Monday, 19 March 2012

Tory MP Peter Bone: gay marriage reform could lead to two monarchs on the throne

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Peter Bone MP: worrying about how many
Queens are on the throne so you don't have to
Just when you thought you'd heard all the arguments the opponents of gay marriage have to offer, Conservative MP Peter Bone has stepped forward with a new one – changing the marriage law is a bad idea, because it could lead to a monarch and their same-sex partner sitting on the throne of Great Britain.

The story appeared in yesterday's Sun under the headline "Gay marriage law means 'there could be two Queens' on the throne", providing a helpful reminder that, for all the advances in equality made in Britain in the past twenty years, there are still national newspapers that will use a debate over gay rights as an opportunity to indulge in 1970s schoolyard innuendo.

Bone has sent a letter to the Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone outlining his concerns. The legislation, to use the Sun's words, "would mean a lesbian Queen having a Queen consort or a gay King having a King consort", while "a gay monarch who conceived a child either by sperm donor or surrogate would raise wider questions".

"They seem to be rushing this through without thinking of the broader implications," Bone told the newspaper.
You could, of course, say the same about his letter.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail appears to be concerned about the implications of the reforms for another key British institution – the peerage. The newspaper reports that the government's plans may involve giving the married partners of gay knights, dames and peers a "courtesy title". If this has already lost you, the paper helpfully elaborates using the example of Elton John, through which all issues concerning gay marriage must of course be explained: "It could lead to Sir Elton John’s partner David Furnish being known as ‘Sir David’ or possibly ‘the Honourable David Furnish’."

This would apparently be controversial, because at present the husbands of women with honours are not given a "courtesy title".

"Etiquette experts have spent years debating the use of a courtesy title by the husband of a dame or female peer," explains the Mail, "and failed to come up with an answer."

Along with the Higgs Boson and the mystery of consciousness, it is one of the great challenges of our time.

PS: if it makes you angry that this is what a debate about equal marriage entails, you can strike a blow for reason by signing the Coalition for Equal Marriage petition.
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