Dave's been a disaster as a gay wedding planner
00:02 GMT, 16 December 2012
Mid-December, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like another unholy mess. The gays I know are all fed up with the same-sex marriage debate, when they should be pinkly thrilled, as it’s all about them. ‘The whole point of being gay is not getting married,’ Nicky Haslam, the feted interior designer, complained.
I can see where La Haslam’s coming from: anecdotally, I’ve heard the availability of civil partnerships has led to an upsurge in smug marrieds chanting ‘tick tock’ to their gay friends and the in-laws dropping gravid hints about the patter of tiny feet to their daughter’s ‘wife’.
Meanwhile, gay singletons are getting earache about the shelf and leaving it too late. If the vote to allow gays to marry in some churches goes through in the New Year, then the nagging to settle down and start families for gays, bisexuals, transgendered and so on will surely get ever more insistent.
'The gays I know are all fed up with the same-sex marriage debate' writes Rachel Johnson.
Even so, some gays long for nothing more than echt marriage, however common or conventional it is decried as by urban sophisticates. Benjamin Cohen, the Out4Marriage founder, could always become civilly partnered, but Cohen wants something traditional, with bells on, and the right language.
He wants a wedding, and a husband, and to be married. He has released a touching video of his grandparents, who can’t conceal their impatience for Ben to get hitched . . . to a nice Jewish boy, we imagine.
Mazel tov, everyone! For as it happens, the country agrees with Ben and his granny. Sixty per cent of us think gay marriage is a good thing – as a poll in today’s Mail on Sunday shows – but still the Government has, as ever, whistled up a plan that upsets almost everyone.
The Rev Richard Coles said the Church of England has a PR problem
Somehow, a policy that sounds pretty good when Cameron articulates it (I do love a man who can use the word ‘commitment’ without wincing) has managed to conjoin the following in despair: the headbangers of the Tory Party, who think that gays marrying in church symbolises our descent into Sodom and Gomorrah; the homosexual couples who have had civil partnership ceremonies and are now being told that they can ‘upgrade’ to full-scale marriage for the price of a quickie cheque, as if their current arrangements are second-best; and, above all, the liberal renegades in the Church of England, whom the proposed ‘quadruple lock’ prevents from conducting same-sex services under its auspices.
Late last week, the Churches of England and Wales expressed ‘complete shock’ that under the new proposals, they were the only religious organisations to be legally barred from conducting the ceremonies.
So not a bad tally, when you think that Cameron’s dearest wish for his first term actually had the potential to defibrillate not one but two fading, unfashionable institutions: the Church of England and marriage.
What’s happening is such a shame. We all disapprove, I take it, of any prejudice on the basis of gender, age, disability, or orientation.
And we all similarly agree marriage is an institution that binds this nation together. On paper then, allowing gays church marriage is a horse-and-carriage combo made in heaven: humane, inclusive, and modern.
Alan Wilson, the Anglican bishop of Buckingham, has written that now even ‘Wodehouse aunts’ accept gay couples and zealots in the Church need to catch up with the mood of the country.
Heartfelt: David Cameron wants the Church to 'grow up and get with the times'
Of course, the Rt Rev Wilson is right, but this isn’t going to happen in a hurry. As the Rev Richard Coles (a gay priest and BBC presenter) told me: ‘The Church of England tends to be in a terrible state as to whether it wants tea or coffee.’ We have a fusty old-fashioned Church with a PR problem that won’t allow women bishops, insists on continuing to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and regards homosexuality as ‘incompatible with the Scripture’.
David Cameron’s wish that the Church should grow up and get with the times is heartfelt. He has gay friends; he has been to their civil ceremonies and supported them.
But the real roadblock to Cameron’s fervent and genuine wish to see gays married is not the Church: it is his own proposals.
One, they ban our established church from marrying gays even if it wanted to; and two, the judges in Strasbourg might even junk the proposals on the grounds that they actually institutionalise prejudice against gays and constitute a breach of the Convention on Human Rights.
So I’d call it off for now, Dave. But do press your suit again when your prospects of consummation are a bit rosier.
Mary is a voice of reason in a wilderness of mince pie plates
Ping! Email from a ‘tableware’ company offering me a massive early-bird discount on a Spode Mince Pie Plate. What
Does anyone need a special festive platter just for mince pies, or is this plain nuts Blessed are they who go off-message about the ‘magic’, like mega-grinch Raymond Briggs, father of The Snowman: ‘I’m not a fan of Christmas, although I support the principle of a day of feasting and presents, but the anxiety starts in October.’
Even Mary Berry, Queen of the Bake Off, has pondered in her heart and said we buy and eat and throw away too much this time of year.
Cutting waste: Bake Off queen Mary Berry said we buy and eat and throw away too much at this time of year
My children complain I am insufficiently Christmassy, but then my parents’ idea of my main present for combined birthday-and-Christmas was a dressing gown. This makes us a mixed-race household, as my husband is a devotee to the cult of Christmas and makes the annual Hajj of the English gentleman to Harrods Food Hall, for crystallised stem ginger, without which he regards the sacramental table as barren and probably pagan.
Much as I love peace, goodwill, satsumas, carols, Nativity etc, the accompanying shopping and eating demands on us all are too great. I resent much of it. Our houses are too small for all the stuff.
And we’re already too big, even our ‘little ones’, as last week’s awful figures on childhood obesity reminded us. I wish more people like Raymond Briggs and Mary Berry would speak out, for all our sakes. Still, if anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas, I’d like a mince pie plate, please. From Spode.
Patrick, a star ready for his fate
Another broadcaster once teased the late Sir Patrick Moore on air by asking him: ‘Is there life on Patrick Moore’
Icon: Broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore has died
A good question. I was, I think, the last journalist to interview Sir Patrick. ‘I used to wake up and say, what will I have time to do today’ he told me. ‘Now, I wake up and think, what can I do today I could have done without the last ten years.’
When someone such as Sir Patrick dies, it may be sad for everyone else, but it is not before time for him.
Oops… muesli’s off the menu for Fido
Sorry if I gave everyone kittens last week when I said that I picked out the dried fruit from my muesli for the dog.
You have all been on the blower, pointing out that raisins can cause renal failure in dogs.
Over to Kennel Club health and information officer Nick Sutton: ‘As a part of our family, we all enjoy including our dogs in our Christmas celebrations.
‘However, chocolate, raisins, grapes, sultanas, avocados, onion, garlic, leeks, artificial sweeteners and even nuts can be lethal to dogs.’ A national canine crisis-at-Christmas averted.