I have never enjoyed weddings. As a young boy at my Aunty Louise’s wedding my mother dressed me in a waistcoat that even Noel Edmonds wouldn’t be seen dead in. The entire day was an unmitigated disaster; heavy on speeches, light on cake.
The whole ordeal seemed completely pointless to me and I left with little more than the memory of my Grandad getting pissed on Stella and dancing to Britney Spears seared onto my brain for evermore. That said, I did come to learn, in subsequent years, that most people enjoy weddings and see it as an important step in the progression of their life and their happiness.
Recently the institution of marriage, and all the over wrought, over priced and over rated trappings that come with it, has been opened up to a section of society previously never given the chance, yet some are reacting with the same ignorance and petulance as my three-year-old self.
When the gay marriage bill was passed, it was never expected to do so without its detractors. Marriage has always been considered sacrosanct in western society. Setting religion to one side (tricky when faced with an issue such as this), a sizable contingent of the population will never see marriage befitting anything other than a man and a woman, as if it was in some way so deeply entrenched in our culture that it was not to be interfered with. But this belies the history and origins of the concept of marriage.
Regrettably for something traditionally seen as the ultimate romantic gesture, a brief glance through history would suggest that the early Anglo-Saxon and British tribal groups used marriage as a diplomatic tool to smooth relations and form tribal alliances as much as a declaration of undying love. Nations have been born and lost through tactical royal and political marriages for centuries, across Europe and beyond. The intervening years are littered with inconsistencies relating to age, consent and intent with regards to what we commonly assume to be the virtues of marriage. Far from a divine, passionate, holy embrace; marriage is a construct, as easily modified as it was created.
That said, weddings are a source of great happiness for millions of people worldwide, regardless to my personal thoughts on the subject. The ceremony and the entire circus that comes with it – stag dos, hen dos, honeymoons – all bring merriment in their own way. I personally cannot comprehend why anybody would deserve to be denied all of this because of his or her sexuality. Public figures such as Nigel Farage have been widely derided for his silence on the issue, but it’s unreasonable to be expecting him to be leading a Gay pride march down Brighton pier just yet.
Make no mistake, the passing of this law is important, regardless to whether you are pro or anti marriage as an institution, because it means we can finally see a bastion of English society adapt to suit modern life and embrace diversity. The passing of this law adds up to so much more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s marks true progress, not just providing us more opportunities to get hammered on Cava and snog a bridesmaid. The bill has only been subject to the scrutiny it has received because of its importance. If a bill sails through Parliament without a notion of opposition, it’s unlikely to be all that progressive.