Friday, 21 October 2011

Times: What's in a name?
Sunday, October 16, 2011, 09:39 , by Alison Bezzina

Last night I went to watch FourPlay –a hilarious comedy by DnA theatre currently showing at the University.

I hadn't had such a good laugh in a very long log time, in fact the script was so side-splittingly twisted, that it got me thinking about marriage.

Yes marriage - the legal institution universally known for annihilating foreplay!

Anyone who has been married for a while will tell you that this is true, and the epidemic is so widespread, that in Malta, only same sex relationships are protected from this romance killer...but possibly not for long.

In my last blog I wrote that Joseph Muscat is not against same sex marriages (See excerpt below). Although he's been quoted in the PN-spun media that he is, it's simply not true.

What he claims to be against is calling 'it' by the same name, and though this is cowardly, it is by far different to being against it.

Muscat confirmed all this during yesterday's program Ghandi Xi Nghid on Radju Malta. I was hoping that the radio host, Dr. Andrew Azzopardi, would ask Muscat whether he'd be ready to provide same sex couples with the same legal and economic rights as their heterosexual counterparts, but he didn't.

Had he done so, I cannot see how Muscat could have said 'no' whilst still trying to convince us that his party is liberal and progressive.... oh! How I would have loved to hear him wriggle and stutter his way out of that one!

Of course, Muscat would have come up with the usual killjoy – that a same sex union cannot be called a marriage because he is still against same sex couples adopting children, but I'd bet my last dollar that his argument wouldn't have taken him far before getting him knotted up in a tight noose.

Although Muscat seems slightly more open minded than our Prime Minister about the matter, like our Prime Minister, he too is living in the traditional married set up, with the perfectly groomed wife, 2.5 children and a dog in the backyard, so I don't expect any major revolutions from either.

Whilst the Prime Minister is busy shoving his head in the sand and singing Church anthems at the top of his voice to drain us out, Muscat is comfortable pussy footing around the borders of our human rights at least until he wins the next election, so for now we can rest assured that foreplay within same sex relationships is not under threat.

But allow me, for the sake of these two politicians, and our little country, explain the situation as it truly is.

In today's world, marriage is not about status, it's not about families marrying a girl off, and it's certainly not about having children.

With the introduction of divorce, it's not even about giving your word to someone forever. Marriage, in today's world, is mostly about legal, social and economic benefits. Most of all it's about protection. And it's been like this for a while you know.

Sure, there's the white dress, the flowery aisles, the gobsmacked bridesmaids, and drunken best men, but put the religious and social ceremonies aside, and everything boils down to a long list of legal clauses that come into affect the moment the couple sign on the dotted line.

In the past, African-American slaves were not allowed to marry. Eventually the law in America was changed to allow their unions, but only for them to marry each other (i.e. other African Americans of the opposite sex).

Eventually this law was changed again to allow anyone who was sufficiently old and not too closely blood- related to get married. This included African-Americans marrying whoever they wanted.

Luckily, Malta is already in line with these two changes, but whilst most American states and European countries are changing their marriage laws once again in order to allow same sex marriages, we are once again lagging behind.

Of course we will get there... eventually we always do.

Years and years later, after we've trampled on the rights of thousands, we usually get there.

One day, we will realise that if marriage was like baptism, or first holy communion, or even confirmation, then denying these rights to gay couples wouldn't be an issue, because baptism, holy communion and confirmation are purely and entirely religious and carry absolutely no civic meaning whatsoever.

But marriage is not.

In fact marriage has very little to do with two people getting into it, and more to do with two people getting out. If a married couple stayed happily together, if neither one of them died or left the other, none of the legal clauses protecting them would have to be put to use. Proof of this is are the many couples who only find out about their rights and obligations just as soon as they file for separation or a spouse passes away. On the other hand, most married couples have no idea!
Marriage is a legal contract that grants you and your spouse a list of benefits, rights and protection. Its religious function should be entirely separate and simply available to those who want to dance with it for fun.

What gay couples want are not marriages of white dresses and shining armours, but marriages that are about having the right to the automatic status of next of kin, the right to have joint insurance policies, the right of residency for partners from non EU countries, automatic inheritance without the need for a will, the automatic right to live in the communal home in case of a partner's death, communal pension plans, social security, joint tax returns, domestic violence protection.....

The list goes on and on, and whatever Joseph Muscat wants to call this type of union, is absolutely and utterly irrelevant.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

Excerpt from: Keeping Score, 9.10.11 by Alison Bezzina

The PL has many weak and potentially fatal points, but the most obvious one, at least to me, is that it can never be seen as anti-Clerical ever again. Members of the PL had a good taste of what lovely results this brings them, and they want to stay as far away from it as ever. In fact, this is why Joseph Muscat will not openly state that he is not against same sex marriages, and this is why Cyrus Engerer can live with being told that his new found 'leader' is ready to be convinced.

Like me, Cyrus knows that unlike Gonzi, on a personal level, Joseph Muscat is already convinced, but he won't come forth and say it because he feels the need to protect the party's refreshed relationship with the mighty Church. This is in fact the same reason why he initially pushed for divorce via a private member's bill and not by other (perhaps more effective) means that were available to him at the time.

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