I always wondered what the House of Lords got up to in the wee small hours Dears. It seems sex is on the agenda – literally.
As most people are aware Westminster recently voted to allow same-sex marriages – and good for them. Not before time considering they were dragging their heels a year behind the devolved Scottish Parliament in doing so.
During the Same-Sex Marriage Debate in the House of Lords in the early hours of 20 June 2013, Baroness Butler-Sloss attempted to table an amendment suggesting definitions of consummation and adultery under the Bill. In English law, consummation is defined as penetration of the vagina by the penis, whether or not a condom is used.
Baroness Butler-Sloss, a Law Lord and former High Court Judge, who says she is for gay rights but against same-sex marriage, tabled the amendment claiming that it was important for gay men to demonstrate their commitment to their partners, so that they may remain faithful to each other.
Because of course, that works in heterosexual marriage, doesn’t it?
Stating “Penetration only takes it halfway.” (Yes dears, make your own jokes. I’m thinking it but I’m not saying it.), the Baroness’s amendment was allegedly aimed at making matters equal concerning divorce. She stated that it is unfair that heterosexual men and women can be sued for divorce, on claims of adultery, whereas the Same Sex Marriage Bill, as it stands, homosexual partners would not be able to be sued on those grounds. She continued, “I consider it profoundly unsatisfactory and, more importantly, profoundly unjust that adultery is not the ground for same-sex divorce. It undermines the value of same-sex marriage. I assume that it is because there has not so far been a definition of consummation of a sexual relationship other than between couples of the opposite sex.”
And do you know what Dears, she does have a point. It was where she sought to change the law – for same-sex and heterosexual couples however that it started to get bizarre.
So how did Baroness Butler-Sloss seek to level the playing field? She proposed redefining consummation by importing the definition of rape law. She wanted the definition of penetration to include the vagina, mouth and anus, as it does under the Sexual Offences Act, which would pertain to all marriage.
Yes Loves, I can hear what you are thinking immediately – what then about lesbian marriage? And this was not lost on Lord Alli opposing the motion either. He stated that the “definition of the sexual act that defines fidelity for heterosexuals is outdated and, in my view, very cumbersome,” and added, “Simply importing the definition of penetration—anal, vaginal or oral—into this would leave lesbians at a complete disadvantage regarding fidelity.”
Baroness Stowell of Beeston, also opposing, stated that the Bill made adequate provision for divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour, and emphasised the fact that same-sex couples will be able to make promises and commitments in the form or words they choose.
Baroness Butler-Sloss withdrew her Amendment, stating that she was “sad” (I agree – very) and claimed that straight and gay couples would not be equal according to the law.
This whole thing is bizarre Dears. The main stumbling block which the Same Sex Marriage Bill faced was opposition from the Christian churches. To counter this the government made provisions in the Bill whereby no clergy shall be forced to carry out a same-sex marriage (they never would have to have anyway, but that’s another story). As this is the case, the chances are that most same-sex marriages will be carried out in registry offices, rather than places of worship. Now we have had an unelected member of the upper house of the Westminster government trying to push terms of consummation of marriage – which is a wholly religious concept.
In early Judiastic society it was common for newlyweds to consummate their marriage with the woman lying on a cloth. As most girls were virgins when they went to their marriage bed in those days, the bloodied cloth would be passed on to the clergy to prove that consummation had taken place. In some churches in the early days of Christianity it was common for the newlyweds to copulate on the altar table in full view of the assembled clergy and wedding guests. Doubt that? Well that’s why some ancient churches have wide altar tables, and the modern evolution of that act is when groom is told he may kiss the bride.
The Matrimonal Causes Act (1973) states that a marriage may be annulled if either or both partners are incapable of consummating it, or either partner refuses to. This is silly, archaic nonsense – even for heterosexual couples.
For a start, since sexual liberation few people, male or female, go to their marriage beds virgins nowadays. Secondly, it is quite common in this day and age for people who are incapable of having sex, either for physical or other reasons, to still get married.
If a man or woman is in the forces and decides to marry their long term partner quickly before a tour of duty, with no time for sex, are they then not married? Is someone who marries someone who is paraplegic or otherwise not physically able to have sex not married? Are an elderly couple, as is quite common nowadays, who have decided to tie the knot and one or both cannot perform the sexual act not married? Are asexuals who wed for companionship not married? Moreover, how does one prove that consummation of the marriage has or has not taken place. They cannot as it is impossible to do so.
When civil partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2004, the issue of consummation was avoided completely. However, in May 2012 government ministers considered taking the issue of sex out of marriage law, for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, altogether. This was defeated when Conservative MP Edward Leigh claimed that it would reduce actual marriage to the level of civil partnerships, and stated that consummation was still valid for Roman Catholics for whom annulment was still valid but divorce was not. Please Dears, Catholics divorce every day. And again, it is impossible to prove consummation, so it is again an irrelevance.
In the final instance, what bothers me about this is that those in government who have been against same-sex marriage, have all too often been the same people who have made homophobic comments about gays and lesbians being sexual perverts. Now by banging on about consummation, which is an irrelevance nowadays, it is Baroness Butler-Sloss and people like her, including those who refuse to remove sex from marriage law altogether, who seem to be obsessing about sex and losing sight of the fact that marriage is not about sex, it is about love. It is supposedly a commitment of two people who love each other to bond as one.
Those who go on about the “sanctity of marriage” are the very ones who claim that marriage is about love, and it would serve them better to concentrate upon that love, rather than the sex which is only one of the many aspects of a loving marriage.
It’s either that or (and sorry for being such a bitch Dears) Baroness Butler-Sloss is just bitter for appearing to be the world’s worst drag queen ever.