Ring the bells, kill the fatted calf...
Britain has finally said ‘I do’ to gay marriage.
It’s a vote for fairness and acceptance; cause for celebration. Though don’t buy a hat just yet.
Not because there are legal hoops to go through before what is a huge milestone in equality actually becomes law - and Mark can marry Marcus and Bill can say “I will” to Phil. But because there are still so many who do not, simply cannot, budge from their view that marriage can ever be anything other than a union between one man and one woman.
David Cameron has found that out. Probably to his cost. The Prime Minister is spouting about how proud he is that love between a same-sex couple will now “count the same” as the love of a heterosexual couple.
But almost half his MPs voted against. His party was neatly split into the I do’s and I don’ts and the prediction is that the division could divorce him from them forever, seriously threatening his leadership. Not that I’ll weep over that.
But I’m galled by the opposing view that the act of marriage, by definition, can only be between two people of opposite sexes. That if you take that basic requirement away, what you are left with is simply not marriage.
It’s not in accordance with God’s holy law? He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve? Oh come on. Get real. Get 21st century. How much of life as depicted in the gospel is still valid today? It was written when people had black slaves, rode around on donkeys and gave birth in stables. When, I imagine, millions of lesbians and homosexuals had to hide their relationships. We’ve come a long way since then. Well, most of us have.
Church membership is dwindling to crisis levels and much of that must be because of its refusal to move with the times - the vote against the ordination of women bishops last year being a prime example.
A church’s role isn’t only to worship and obey; it’s to unify communities and teach its members to practise tolerance and understanding and respect for all.
Why can’t the opposers see that if churches welcome gay people into their congregations, banning them from marrying at their altars is nothing other than hypocritical and discriminatory?
And in an age when more couples live ‘over’t’ brush than in wedlock and the notion of staying together through thick and thin in the name of love and family has worn threadbare, the church and everyone else who for whatever antiquated reason thinks it is wrong for two people of the same sex to make an abiding commitment should be falling over with enthusiasm to welcome them.
Far from weakening the constitution of marriage, gay weddings strengthen it.
As Deputy Prime Minister leader Nick Clegg said: “No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay.”