How nice - an email from a government department, inviting me to make my views known on the issue of 'Marriage between same-sex persons'. Such persons can already, in the UK, enter into Civil Partnerships with the same legal consequences as a regular Marriage. But for some it doesn't feel the same; it lacks the social status of a 'real' marriage.
I have actually been married. It was a Register Office wedding. It was in 1983 at Morden Cottage near Wimbledon in London, an old white-painted clapperboard mill house by a stream, set in parkland. It wasn't a church ceremony, but I felt properly 'married', and could proudly say so afterwards. And the world fully acknowledged my new status. An awful lot flowed from 'being married', other people's attitude and goodwill not least of them. Marriage was an institution with a day-to-day reality to it, and far, far more than 'just a certificate'.
This is essentially what marrying couples want. So should all couples have it, regardless of who they are? Regardless of the gender mix, for instance?
Well, my personal position is yes. If they are sincere, well-suited, and have each other's welfare and happiness uppermost in their minds, then they should be able to enjoy the very real feeling of 'being married'.
I don't care two hoots about 'departing from centuries of tradition' - tradition tends to obstruct badly-needed reforms, and often perpetuates outmoded and unjust rules and restrictions. Think of the various bans women contend with around the world, for example. So tradition, however picturesque, is a Bad Thing.
Nor do I feel that it matters if the marrying couple can't 'make a baby' together. Sterility or old age shouldn't debar people from marrying. And it shouldn't stop people who have no intention of having children, who may even want to maintain celebacy for spiritual reasons perhaps. Nor should it stop same-sex couples. There is an argument that in an overpopulated world, couples who must remain naturally childless should be approved of, and honoured, and certainly permitted the status and consolation of Marriage.
Some of the objections must be rooted in a distaste for the sex imaginable between two men or two women. That's sheer prudery, and not a valid reason to deny Marriage to them.
I am not religious, so no appeal to holy texts or teachings to limit Marriage to a man and a woman carries weight with me. But neither am I a dogmatic atheist. I would therefore in all seriousness ask, 'well, what does God himself say in 2012 about this question of same-sex marriage?'. And of course, nobody can tell me. To fill that silence, I would speculate that God - as a universal entity - must be without a particular physical form and must certainly be genderless; and that God wouldn't mind what kind of persons come together to share their lives in a mutually caring commitment, so long as something good results from it.