Same-sex marriage has been legalized in Britain, and many Britons are cheerily anticipating the first gay marriage this weekend. The government is even getting into the swing of things, and has ordered the characteristic rainbow-colored flags of the gay movement to be flown over important government buildings. Britain’s first same-sex marriage is set to take place in the Royal Pavilion.
Neil Allard and Andrew Wale won a contest to become the first gay coupled married in Britain. Their wedding will usher in a new age of tolerance, but many in Britain are unhappy. A BBC Radio poll of 1,000 people suggests that one in five Britons would not attend a gay wedding, and one in four Britons do not believe that gay marriage should be legal.
Gay marriage has been tolerated in all but name in Britain, though, since 2005. In 2005, Britain began to allow gay couples to enter into “civil partnership,” which gave these couples the same legal rights as married couples. Strangely enough, the government of Britain is not currently allowing couples in civil partnership to convert over to a marriage partnership.
The Church of England has been a prominent detractor to the idea of gay marriage in Britain. They have banned priests from performing weddings, and also banned them from blessing the marriages of gay couples. The church is, however, allowing an informal prayer to be said with the gay couple. Bishops from the church attempted to block the bill to allow gay marriage in the House of Lords.
Britain will become the seventeenth country to allow gay marriages worldwide. The government estimates that 500-600 marriages will occur this weekend, with about 6,000 occurring annually. While Britain’s first same-sex marriage should garner a sea of smiles at the Royal Pavilion, gay marriages that take place elsewhere may not fare as well. This polarizing issue could have strong repercussions.
Interestingly enough, there are gay people against the idea of gay marriage. The BBC ran a story about gays against marriage in June of 2013. It seems that many gays feel that rights are way more important than labels. They want to be treated with equality above all else. They also feel that the institution of marriage has historically marginalized the gay population, and for that reason they feel no need to join the gay marriage bandwagon. Perhaps most surprisingly, many gays feel that a gay relationship is not a proper environment to raise children in.
The idea that a man and a woman ought to raise children together has been a common thwart to gay marriage for many years. There are plenty of scientific studies to point to favoring the idea, and also plenty scoffing at it. It does speak volumes, however, to note that even many gay people support the idea that men and women should raise children together in a natural family environment. Gays would of course argue that a gay family environment could also be natural, but the minority nature of gay union suggests that it is, in fact, an unnatural thing. Single parents also raise children, and this environment is equally unnatural for similar reasons. It just isn’t what nature seems to have intended.
One way or another, gay flags will be flying amidst celebration this weekend in England. Many Britons are looking forward to the first same-sex marriage ever before to take place in Britain, and crowds of people are sure to line up around the Royal Pavilion for the event. The issue will undoubtedly polarize the country, but the heat over it should cool down quickly. Gay marriage has been around in all but name for almost ten years.
By Luke Sargent