Nick Clegg explains why he’s Out4Marriage

Way back in February 2010, Nick Clegg used the phrase “Love is same, straight or gay” in an interview with Pink News in which he expressed his support for equal marriage. That phrase has become a slogan of the Out4Marriage campaign.

He has reiterated that full support on many occasions since.

Today, Out4Marriage released a video he made for them explaining why he supports the right of all couples who love each other to marry as “a fundamental right in an equal society”.

Enjoy!

 

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15 Comments

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Jun '12 - 10:51am

    The prime argument against gay marriage is that it pushes the idea of “marriage” towards being purely about “a personal commitment of two people who love each other” and against it being “a commitment between two people within the wider community to support each other and to producer and raise children”. If marriage is purely about “two people who love each other” then any wider issues about the community and children go away – the concern being that it encourages a casual approach where once the early romantic love has gone the relationship is broken, and nanny state is there to deal with the kids.

    The wording Nick Clegg has chosen to use simply proves the point of the opponents of gay marriage. Now it seems to me that if one holds to one position on any issue, a serious and thoughtful and liberal politician ought at least to be aware of the arguments for the other side and show respect for those making those arguments by acknowledging them. Clegg’s giving no acknowledgement to his opponents here comes across as a sign of contempt, which is unbecoming to a liberal, or of ignorance or inability to understand, which is not good to see in someone who holds such a senior position.

    It seems to me the mark of a true liberal is the ability to show respect for and understand those who hold different opinions to one’s own, and the ability to see that this is not the same as agreeing with them. I have decided to come “out” as opposing gay marriage, with one of the prime factors pushing me this way being the utter illiberalism shown by every supporter of the idea I have heard.

  • Contempt is the correct response to anyone who opposes equality, however tortuously imaginative their self-justifications.

  • “I have decided to come “out” as opposing gay marriage, with one of the prime factors pushing me this way being the utter illiberalism shown by every supporter of the idea I have heard.”

    Does that mean you’ve decided to oppose same-sex marriage because in your opinion its supporters are not showing sufficient respect for the opposing view?

    Or does it mean you were already opposed to same-sex marriage and you’ve decided to make your opposition public for that reason?

  • We all think we know what ‘love’ is, but do we.? The word is often so glibly used that I am prompted to write a book.!
    Being in love is a feeling of a bonding connection with the other, such that it makes you feel whole, it grows to the point that you are so satisfied by the relationship that you want to declare it publicly to your friends and family.
    Real love is permanent, you don’t know what it is until you have experienced it, and unless you feel that sense of permanence you should not contemplate marriage. Marriage should be what you want to do because you are in love, and in that Nick is absolutely right, it makes no difference who you are.
    Procreation is not a part of that, but it misleads the discussion and is used as a justification for prejudice.

  • I am largely with Matthew Huntbach on this. I am not at all comfortable with Nick portraying the legal designation of gay partnerships as ” marriage” as “freedom to love”. I believe absolutely in the right of gay people to equality of esteem and respect including freedom to love. I was totally for civil partnership which swept away indefensible legal and other barriers to the partnership of the many gay couples who wished to enter into that degree of (hopefully) long term commitment. As far as I am aware there are no further legal or practical advantages to be gained by legalising gay marriage but I can well understand that some (not all) gay people would welcome such a change.

    I personally could not care less whether the term “marriage” is extended to gay couples but many other people of the kind of liberal and progressive quality which leads them to join or support our Party do care – usually but not always for religious reasons.

    I am sorry to say that two such people in my constituency – long term supporters with whom I have been happy to work – have now decided that our vociferous support for designating gay partnerships as marriage is a bridge to far for them. I am even sorrier to say that the attitude of some Lib Dems to whom I have mentioned this is to say “Too bad – they are not Liberals.”

    There are some policies we must pursue with messianic fervor – is this really one of those? By all means argue for it if we think it achieves some sort of progress but let’s at least recognise and respect those in our ranks who think differently and do not seek to alienate them or indeed describe them (like some do) as homophobes.

  • “By all means argue for it if we think it achieves some sort of progress but let’s at least recognise and respect those in our ranks who think differently and do not seek to alienate them or indeed describe them (like some do) as homophobes.”

    Homophobe is a strong word, but the more I’ve read of the arguments the more I think opposition to this measure stems from some kind of antipathy towards homosexual relationships. Otherwise I think people would be able to articulate more comprehensible arguments against it.

    For example, the best Matthew Huntbach can do above is to suggest (apparently) that marriage should involve a commitment to produce children. The obvious question in response to that is why heterosexual couples who cannot have children should be allowed to marry, but homosexuals should not. It’s an obvious and simple question, but I haven’t seen it answered yet. That makes me suspicious about what the answer really is.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Jun '12 - 2:04pm

    Chris

    Does that mean you’ve decided to oppose same-sex marriage because in your opinion its supporters are not showing sufficient respect for the opposing view?

    Or does it mean you were already opposed to same-sex marriage and you’ve decided to make your opposition public for that reason.

    Neither. It means I’ve been listening to the arguments put for and against, and was eventually persuaded against because of the way those for the idea did not argue against the concern I mentioned but instead sidestepped it – as they are still doing here – by just denouncing anyone who raises it as “homophobic”. I’m afraid that yes I do see this nasty labelling of one’s opponents here, and the creation of a mentality of fear so that those with doubts are afraid to speak out as something very unpleasant.

    I have no problem with the idea of civil partnership with the same legal rights as marriage, so what we are talking about here is merely a matter of semantic, not one of “equality” as is being claimed. It is for this reason that for a long time I wondered what all the fuss was about on both sides. It all seemed to me to be absurd. On balance however I found the point on the anti side – of marriage NOT being JUST about “two people who love each other” – to be sound and not to have been properly answered by the pro side. Indeed, Clegg’s words reported here very much make that point.

  • There’s nothing to answer, Matthew. Throughout my life I would have defined marriage as “a personal commitment of two people who love each other”. Previously I might have described it as between a man and a woman rather than between two people, but that distinction would be accidental rather than substantial. But it would never, at any point, have occurred to me to add a child-rearing qualification, perhaps because of the obvious fact that there were plenty of childless married couples and plenty of unmarried parents in the world.

    So, from my point of view, it is not I who am attempting to change the definition of the word, but you.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Jun '12 - 11:35pm

    Ivan, what you have written shows a remarkable lack of historical or anthropogical knowledge. One might even say it is “racist” because it is assuming a definition of “marriage” which prevails mainly amongst white European people, and is still not how “marriage” is seen in much of the world elsewhere. Indeed, I suspect even in this country the idea that marriage is not an agreement in which child production and rearing played a central part is, I suspect, one that wold hardly have existed even a few decades ago.

    I think you will find in marriage ceremonies across the world and in all cultures the idea that child-rearing is a central point to marriage is pretty clear. Even in our own culture we find the following words in the Anglican marriage ceremony:

    The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
    in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
    and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
    It is given as the foundation of family life
    in which children are [born and] nurtured
    and in which each member of the family,in good times and in bad,
    may find strength, companionship and comfort,
    and grow to maturity in love.

    However, in the older Anglican form, that of 1662, it is put much more bluntly, with these words:

    First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name

    Until recently these were the standard words used at most weddings.

    So, for you to accuse ME of “changing the definition” is wrong, and I would say remarkably so, In fact your wrongness just proves the point I was making even more.

    Let me say again, I have no problem with the idea of a ceremony where two people of the same sex make a lifelong commitment to each other. All I am saying was that I felt the concern expressed in some places that insisting this be called “marriage” and made indistinguishable from the traditional definition of marriage worked further to lose the idea that marriage was not just a romantic commmitment but also a social commitment involving child rearing was valid. Perhaps it is a battle already lost, judging by the incomprehensibility shown by yourself and Mr Clegg.

    I do feel the ending of the traditional idea of what composes “marriage” and consequent fall in the number of children being raised by both their biological parents has had a deleterious effect on society. Indeed, having myself been raised in a working class area, when I look at such areas now (I was a councillor for one for 12 years) and ask “What went wrong? Why are people’s lives in these places in such a mess nowadays? Why is there so little social mobility?”, I am forced to accept that the breakdown of traditonal family structure is part of it. It was certainly a big contributing factor in so much of the casework I dealt with.

    I would have kept these thoughts to myself, had it not been for the intolerance and nastiness I observed amongst so many of those arguing for gay marriage, in the abuse they have poured on those who dare question the idea and the readiness to jump at accusing them of being “homophobic” and of not honestly holding to the views they put, but instead putting them only as an excuse for this homophobia.

  • Matthew

    The supporters of same-sex marriage aren’t sidestepping your objection at all. They are responding with the very obvious counter-argument – made twice on this thread alone – that many heterosexual marriages do not and cannot produce children. So what you are arguing is that heterosexual couples who cannot produce children should be allowed to marry, but homosexual couples (who cannot produce children) should not. Your criterion doesn’t have anything to do with producing children – it is based on the sexual preferences of the people involved.

    As I said, I have seen no answer to that counter-argument. It has simply been sidestepped!

  • “However, in the older Anglican form, that of 1662, it is put much more bluntly, with these words:
    First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name”

    But of course you omit “Second” anmd “Third” – which apply equally to homosexual couples (and to heterosexual couples who are unable to have children).

  • Matthew,

    Words are defined by their usage. My own understanding of the word, which I described above, was based on how I experienced it being used throughout my life. I pointed that out not to deny the existence or potential validity of other definitions of the word, but simply to answer your charge that I am seeking to willfully change that definition. And neither did I accuse you of seeking to alter the definition, I simply threw your accusation back at you to underline that point.

    But even if we grant your child-rearing qualification and agree that a stable family is the best environment for raising children I still don’t see how that helps your position. Given that same-sex couples already can and do raise children, you’ll need to explain why the stability offered by marriage should be denied to those children, or how extending that stability to such families would imperil the existence or well-being of existing or future traditional families. Good luck with that.

    Speaking of definitions, my wife and I went to a civil partnership ceremony a couple of weeks ago to watch some fiends of ours getting… civilly partnered. Except of course we didn’t, we went to a wedding to watch our friends get married. That’s how described it, and that’s how everyone else there described it. Because that’s what it was. If there’s any change taking place it seems to me that it’s already happened. All that’s left is for the law to catch up.

    I don’t actually think you’re a homophobe, Matthew, but your reasoning is completely incoherent, and seems to be driven entirely by your antipathy towards many if those who support equality, and possibly by loyalty to some of those who are driven by bigotry and are rightly accused of being so.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Jun '12 - 1:29am

    Chris and Ivan, you are illustrating part of the difficulty here. You have jumped to describing as “my” argument what I actually said was an argument I felt was sound and had not been properly dealt with by the supporters of gay marriage. By “sound” I don’t mean it’s an argument I hold to completely myself, I mean that it’s strong enough to be considered carefully rather than just dismissed with contempt. Yes, I agree that “that many heterosexual marriages do not and cannot produce children.” is a counter-argument, but you have only put that now in response to my trying to raise an argument I felt had not been dealt with – Mr Clegg certainly did not raise it, this was my concern, the lines he used inadvertently supported it. What I found most offensive is what seems to be the most common line, which is just to dismiss anyone who expresses concerns about this issue as “homophobic” rather than actually answer their case.
    Now I can see very well you are playing a game where you push me to argue more for a case I feel needs to be considered and hasn’t properly been considered, then you will attack me on the grounds that I am personally a full supporter of that case. My actual personal position is that I find it hard to get worked up either way, so I don’t strongly identify with either the pros or the antis. But I do think the position whereby there is a separate term for the gay commitment but which otherwise has the same legal rights as marriage is a reasonable compromise. As this is now the current position, it seems to me the remaining arguments on BOTH sides are merely symbolic. The problem then comes down to both sides thinking their own symbolism is important and the other’s is “completely incoherent” or the like.

  • To be blunt, Matthew, I really don’t think we are the ones who are “playing a game” here.

    For my part, I would be perfectly happy to discuss this on the merits of the arguments. You raised an objection (though I note that you say you don’t “completely” hold to it yourself), and I put a counter-argument. I should be interested in hearing the answer to it if you know of one.

    And whatever else you say, you did announce above that you were “coming out” against gay marriage, so you are advocating a criterion for marriage which discriminates on the basis of sexual preference. It’s not unreasonable to ask you to defend that position.

  • “there is a separate term for the gay commitment but which otherwise has the same legal rights as marriage ”

    This is as we all know and has been gone over in these threads 100 times before, not the case.

    I hereby set fire to your laughable straw donkey and walk away.

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