This month California has become only the second state in the US, after Massachusetts, to legalise same-sex marriage. California’s Supreme Court said the “right to form a family relationship” applied to all Californians regardless of sexuality. Two media couples will be the first to tie the knot. Ellen DeGeneres swiftly announced plans to marry her girlfriend and fellow actress Portia de Rossi.
Not content with the first ever interracial screen kiss between Kirk and Uhuru, now Star Trek‘s Mr Sulu, the veteran actor, George Takei, is to marry his partner of 20 years. Takei also appears in the current hit TV show Heroes.
Contrast this with the hypocritical stance of Iran which countenances sex change surgery but not gay partnerships. Just today, the British Home office ruled that a gay Iranian teenager who might have been executed if he had been sent home, could be granted asylum in the UK. Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London as a student in 2005, but subsequently discovered his boyfriend back in Iran had been arrested for being homosexual, charged with sodomy and hanged. Over the last 30 years, it has been estimated that some 4000+ gay people have been executed in Iran.
In the UK and elsewhere transsexual people formerly had to divorce before being allowed a sex change as otherwise their gender reassignment would have led to a same sex marriage. Perhaps now gay partnerships and trans marriages will be allowed to stay together.
Marriage is part legal contract and part social construct. In some churches and religions it is also a sacred covenant or even sacrament. Biblically, however, the earliest marriages were simpler affairs. Adam and Eve were thrown together, their children obliged to marry their siblings. Abraham took his maid as a second wife, Isaac married Rebecca by just entering his tent. King David and Solomon had multiple wives and concubines. God married, divorced and remarried, Israel many times in the language and writings of the biblical prophets.
At the end of the day all human interaction involves relating and hence relationships. Not all relationships are sexual, and not all those that are sexual involve penetration (sex can be defined by many means). Similarly, not all partnerships are exclusive in business, social or romantic contexts.
If marriage is essentially legal and social only then it should be available to all. If there are religious objections they should be dealt within their communities, it is no business of the state. If relationships and partnerships, married or otherwise, are about love rather than procreation then what has gender to do with it?