The theme of this year’s Pride parade is marriage.
2017 will see the introduction of same-sex marriage in both Guernsey and Jersey. This long-awaited piece of legislation demonstrates in the most tangible way possible that the governments of the Channel Islands believe same-sex partnerships to be the equal of opposite-sex partnerships. We celebrate those who argued for this equality over the years and we commemorate those who would have dearly loved to be married but did not live to see this day.
Marriage means different things to different people. The debate surrounding the introduction of same-sex marriage demonstrates that very ably. Within and outside of the LGBTQ community there are those who think that marriage should be between a man and a woman only; that marriage is a patriarchal construct that has had its day; or, that if marriage is to be opened up to same-sex couples, civil partnerships should be available to opposite-sex couples, too.
The debate has been passionate on both sides, but we must now come back together again. Just as the Brexiteers and the Remainers have to work together to figure out what a Britain looks like outside of the European Union, so we must not allow differences of opinion, over marriage or any other subject, to blind us to the good in those with whom with differ or who are different from us. We may not always agree with our partners, with our families, with our colleagues at work, with our teammates on the sporting field, with our friends supporting charitable endeavours, but we must always listen respectfully and find ways to accommodate other viewpoints. Difference is challenging but, if embraced, it also makes us stronger.
Why do we cry at weddings? Is it simply because the brides(!) look beautiful, or is it because a marriage represents a potential force for good in the world through the support those two people give each other, through the children it might produce, or through the strength that comes from being in a partnership that can be then shared with others? There is a reason why the traditional Church of England marriage service says of marriage: “It enriches society and strengthens community.”
However you personally feel about the institution known as marriage, we hope you agree that a loving, committed relationship between two people is always something to be celebrated. If you do then, this year for Pride, please use the hashtag: #IDo