In the summer of 2009, Quakers decided to campaign for the right to conduct same sex marriages. This week, the House of Commons voted by more than 2:1 in support of that. It feels a momentous day for how we view human relationships. And not a bad day for Quakers who not only played a key role in the campaign which secured the right to conduct civil partnerships on our premises, but who have now made a great leap forward, hopefully within sight of full equality.
The single most common thing God says in the Bible is, (I’m told), don’t be afraid. There is clearly a great deal of upset, confusion, anger and prejudice swilling around this debate, from people taking all sorts of positions. One of our local MPs has received death threats for his position against the change- such threats are utterly despicable. Conversely, many people who have stood up for LGBT equality are used to consensual adult relationships being equated with the worst types of abuse. (Most opponents would deplore this). Quakers have, rightly, campaigned using the language of inclusion and equality, as well as protecting those for whom this is very difficult.
Civil partnerships were attacked in 2003 as being a wild social experiment and all sorts of doom predicted; in fact the public shrugged and moved on. Many of those campaigning against same sex marriage used the same rhetoric against civil partnerships, which they now support. There is much to be done, more reassurance perhaps, the detail sorted. and for society to think how we support relationships, strengthen the families in which children are raised, and tackle prejudice and exclusion. Is it too much to hope that common ground may be found on much of this between different sides of the debate?
Finally, it is curious that the Commons vote closely mirrored the opinion polls – 2:1 in favour.