Thursday, 14 February 2013
The big Leeds Trinity same-sex marriage discussion
We had a fascinating semi-formal lunchtime dicussion today about same-sex marriage. It was organised by our Head of Student Support, Tim Leadbeater. I was rather nervous beforehand, and it turned out I had reason to be because I was the only person present who was opposed to the government bill! In fact on reflection it was a good job I turned up otherwise the conversation might have been a bit one-sided. The tone of the discussion was invariably courteous. We all sat round in a circle and the person holding a box of chocolates at any one time had the right to speak. A couple of times I was just warming to my theme and then I had to shut up as somebody made a move for the chocolates. Important things were shared. One person spoke very eloquently about the difficulties of being homosexual: for example, of "coming out" to one's parents. Another spoke of the feeling of being culturally marginalised: for example, there are no cards on sale for homosexual people to mark important anniversaries in relationships. I was assailed by strong arguments: how can gay people ever be at peace in the Church when their sexual orientation is considered to be disordered?; why is sexual complementarity in parenting so important when so many children are brought up by single parents and when those who are brought up by same-sex couples have lots of opportunities to meet people of the other gender?; if the state denies marriage to homosexual people is it not covertly legitimising their marginalisation in society?; why cannot Parliament change social institutions to reflect changing cultural mores? I pressed on and tried to give an answer to each of the points raised, but not to the satisfaction of anybody in the room. I felt a great relief at the end of the discussion that what I think we had been apprehensive of saying to each other we had now said. It was a great dialogue, very educative. I admired above all the way participants were able to be so frank about such a sensitive and personal area. Here's a picture of us afterwards; the smiles say it all.