THE VIEW FROM HEREI LIKE journalist Charles Moore’s analogy on our approach to the NHS reforms. He wrote: "When my brother was a little boy, my mother asked him, 'Do you like pizza?’ His reply was, 'No. What is it?’"
There are many people who say they don’t like the changes to our health services but actually haven’t a clue what they’re really about. Well, can you give chapter and verse on what is proposed? Proper detail, mind.
OK, you couldn’t come up with much on that one. Shall we move on to another topic which has got you all hot and bothered?
What about same-sex marriages? Crikey, there’s no need to start throwing things. We get the message. You think they’re an abomination and shouldn’t be allowed and it’s absolutely disgusting and you don’t even want to talk about it.
That, at any rate, is a widespread opinion. It may even be a majority one. But the current furious debate on the matter is not likely to be easily quelled by majority opinion or by church prelates getting their vestments in a twist.
What you believe is absolutely up to you. We live (just about) in a free society and you are perfectly entitled to think that same-sex marriages are wrong and to put forward your reasons.
Conversely, those who advocate a reform in the law should be allowed to hold an opposing viewpoint and to argue for civil partnerships to be upgraded to the status of marriage.
There are certainly a lot of people on the Island who are deeply unhappy at the idea of same-sex marriages. But with an estimated four to seven per cent of the IW population being gay, it is likely there also exists firm support for gay couples to have the same rights as heterosexuals.
And this is where it gets interesting. Do you actually know the legal differences between civil partnerships and marriages? What rights do married couples have which gays don’t and how would things change if they were allowed to marry?
Why is everybody so cross? Do you actually know what you’re talking about or, like Charles Moore’s little brother, are you determined not to like it?
The 2004 Civil Partnership Act gave same-sex couples identical rights and responsibilities to those who have gone through a civil marriage. In fact, only minimal differences in dissolution requirements, amounting to no more than the width of a cigarette paper, distinguish a civil partnership from a marriage. While the partnership lasts, there is no discernible difference in status.
So, when it comes to the legal and defining results of ceremonies conducted on non-ecclesiastical premises, it actually all hinges on the word.
It’s as if you’ve handed round a basket of apples to gays and straights but then tell the gays they’ve actually eaten pears. They haven’t. They’ve had apples just the same as everybody else, so you might as well admit it.
It may be you don’t approve of civil partnerships, either. Fair enough. But I’m afraid you’ve been stuck with them for years now and changing the word 'partnership’ to 'marriage’ isn’t going to make the blindest bit of difference to the status of these couples.
Do those Catholic bishops appreciate same-sex couples in civil partnerships are in virtually every legal sense already married? Or, more significantly, no church will be forced to conduct gay weddings if it doesn’t want to?
The issue is, at present, purely a civil one and churches will remain perfectly free to take whatever stance they like.
Even an understanding of the situation won’t stop the arguments. But, given we already have civil partnerships and so it just boils down to a simple name change, the whole brouhaha seems pretty daft. Especially as it’s all supposedly about love.
Come on down for darts and porter
NOW, let’s get off these thorny subjects. I’m already in a tizz in case one of those hideous gay pride marches comes crashing along to see me, all bells and whistles and dreadful studded collars.Let’s have a game to unwind. Mr Newbery, who occupies the penthouse apartment above my basement, was moaning last week about the lack of Island pubs where he and his friend, Charlie Millington, could play darts.
Well, why didn’t he say? It’s like a Victorian tavern down here on a Saturday night — darts, barrels of porter, shove-halfpenny and various old tramps who wander in to play the spoons.
That’s what comes of living in penthouses. You get thoroughly la-di-da, all shagpile carpets and guacamole, and you forget what real living is about.
You pop down here, Mr Newbery, and bring Charlie with you, and you’ll both be as right as rain. Just mind the dead rat on the steps as you go.