Friday, December 2, 2011

Tainted Love

After watching Newsnight Scotland last night, I almost felt queasy at the thought that I support a political party that was once led by Gordon Wilson for a full eleven years. I trust he was excellent in a variety of other ways (I'm too young to properly remember), because his views on gay marriage are nothing short of nauseating. Apparently heterosexual couples will somehow feel that their marriages have been "tainted" if gay people are also allowed to marry. Can there be a more textbook example of the meaning of the word 'intolerance' than that? Never mind that not a single heterosexual marriage will be interfered with or downgraded in any way - for the likes of Wilson, if an 'unclean' person is allowed to do the same thing as him, that's somehow sufficient to 'corrupt' him by association. It's the rough equivalent of demanding that ethnic minorities must be banned from owning umbrellas, on the grounds that white people simply wouldn't be able to bear to touch their own brollies otherwise, and they'd get so wet.

The argument that the SNP shouldn't be bothering with this issue because a change in the law would benefit relatively few people is also deeply troubling. The whole purpose of legislative safeguards (and indeed constitutional safeguards in many countries) to protect minority groups is precisely that such people are supposed to matter just as much as anyone else, in spite of their numerical disadvantage. Or are we supposed to say - who cares about equality of access to public buildings for wheelchair users? After all, most people don't use wheelchairs.

And the formal statement issued by the Church of Scotland (suggesting that it would be dangerous to proceed on gay marriage because it might have an effect on heterosexual marriages that no-one has actually thought of yet) is risible beyond words. It reminds me of the Yes Minister scene where Sir Humphrey, having failed to dream up a credible argument against proceeding with a policy, resorts to a grave warning that he "foresees lots of unforeseen consequences". Not good enough - if the churches want the law to actively discriminate against a minority, at the very least the onus is on them to specify precisely how heterosexual marriages would be damaged by the alternative course of action. I wish them luck. As for the church spokesman who implied that gay marriage is the solution to a problem that doesn't exist, I'd suggest John McKee's recent article on Labour Hame ought to be required reading -

"I was a pretty fantastic liar – a master. Gay people are, were, made to be. Once the realisation took hold, the fear – it’s the fear that’s the problem – built a structure of outward deceit. Every time a mate said “don’t be such a poof” to you because you don’t fancy going out that night or some other social inadequacy worthy of the epithet, your stomach does three somersaults. Every time, for eight years. Not a day – barely an hour – went by without someone pejoratively using “gay” – mainly to mean “bad”...

...the problem is the pervasive and powerful idea of that his civil partnership was different to a heterosexual marriage. The power of this difference holds even more sway outside of cushy green tea-sipping philosophy Narnias. It is this same notion that suffocates the life of gay teenagers...

Marriage is the social benchmark of acceptance. It’s special in society – a condition that the state grants privileges to, that families celebrate and that reeks of social approval – it validates relationships. That same validation should be offered to the love between two men or two women: it will go a long way to breaking down the difference that I have described. This is why marriage for gay couples, not just civil partnerships, is necessary."

Is McKee overstating his case? Is it going too far to suggest that people who simply oppose gay marriage are having the same destructive effect as the peddlers of homophobic 'banter' in the playground? For as long as someone like Gordon Wilson thinks that the mere fact of sharing the institution of marriage with gay people would somehow "taint" his own marriage, it's hard to conclude that the answer can be anything other than 'no'.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When oh when are Labour going to start bashing the SNP hard enough?

There are times on Labour Hame when it's fiendishly difficult to know whether what you're reading is a spoof or not. However, it seems Richard Olszewski genuinely intended the following to be taken as a serious piece of strategic counsel -

"I don’t think we need to change that much. We just need to shout a bit louder to get our message across to the voters and bash the SNP harder."

That, of course, is the rough equivalent of a Tory activist in 1995 saying something like this -

"No cause for alarm, chaps. All we need to do is bang on about Europe more, and remind people that John Major is far more charismatic than Tony Blair, and then everything will be as right as rain."

Or, to borrow my old mate Kevin Baker's favourite (and typically porn-flavoured) catchphrase, "Do it again, only HARDER!!!"