Same-sex marriage. Does this phrase offend you? No? Well, according to Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic, it should do. That the Government has decided to consult on the idea is, for Cardinal O’Brien, serious enough to justify publishing a photo of Fat Reg From Pinner with civil partner David Furnish. The public clearly needs to be properly scared about this one.
And it isn’t just the Catholic Church, but the Tory establishment too: weighing in behind the good Cardinal has been rent-a-quote Europhobe Peter Bone (and, by definition, this has followed the obligatory consultation with Mrs Bone), who has taken to ConHome to thunder “Redefining marriage threatens the liberties of Christians, teachers and parents”.
The only surprise thus far is that there has not been even a rumble from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, but that will surely come: after all, if the Mail could dredge up Jan Moir’s hatchet job on Stephen Gately, there will be no problem persuading whoever is at the head of the hacks’ cab rank to spew out the required torrent of apocalyptic froth.
The ConHome piece leans heavily on the “one man one woman equals marriage” petition which, it is claimed, had already secured 97,000 signatures before Bone threw in his, er, bone. Maybe so, but then, it’s always possible that a suitably promoted petition in favour of legalising same-sex marriage could also garner a lot of support. It’s not representative of overall public opinion.
And nor is the good Cardinal’s talk of same-sex marriage perhaps being the precursor of allowing unions of two men and two women, or a man and two women, or a variety of other more or less interesting combinations. The apocalyptic language (“It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father”, for instance) doesn’t help, either.
Nor, too, does Bone’s intervention – he begins the same way as the Cardinal (“To many this might seem a trivial matter” versus “On the surface, the question ... may seem to be an innocent one”) – trying, like Keith O’Brien, to frighten people about what both see as the inevitable consequences for education. Yes, there will be compulsory gay lessons for little kiddies. Be very frightened.
And “Parents who object will be treated as bigots and outcasts ... discriminated against and persecuted ... cornerstone of our society for two thousand years”. Cardinal O’Brien, meanwhile, is busily making slavery comparisons. And all this over a measure which has merely reached the consultation stage. What will be the next ratcheting up of this debate?
Apart, of course, from the inevitable and thunderous denunciation from the Mail.