A Very Civil Wedding – guest post by V.T. Davy

27 Nov

VT_Davy_jpg_210x1000_q85Today’s guest post comes from V.T. Davy, writer of LGBT and historical fiction. Vic’s first novel Black Art featured Arty Shaw, female-to-male transgender detective, and A Very Civil Wedding is a lesbian romance that examines the issues surrounding same-sex marriage. Here Vic talks about the complex views held on gay marriage in the UK and its dramatisation in A Very Civil Wedding.

I came to write A Very Civil Wedding because, whilst the debates over same-sex marriage were happening last year and earlier this year, I found myself struggling to understand what it was that individuals and organisations, in particular the Church of England, had against opening up marriage to homosexual couples. How could anyone be against something so patently fair? What was their problem?

In the age of flash news and impact sound bites, it is often difficult to really get to the heart of complex debates. Inevitably, this leads to shorthand name-calling by the two opposing sides of an argument.

‘Homophobic’ was one such name that was bandied about a lot but I couldn’t believe that some of the educated and erudite men and women expressing opinions, which were obviously deeply held, could simply be homophobic. There had to be more behind their opinion. So, I set myself the task of finding out what their argument was all about. A Very Civil Wedding is the result of my research.

It tells the story of what happens when Princess Alexandra, second in line to the throne after her father, proposes to her long-time girlfriend, Grace Stephens. Both girls have a private Anglican faith and Princess Alexandra will one day be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. However, they cannot get married in the eyes of the church.

GB-Cover_SmallThe novel not only examines the arguments for and against same-sex marriage but also the relationship between the monarchy and the church, how some of Britain’s oldest and most revered organisations have acted to give equality to homosexuals and become stronger for it, and what happens to institutions when they refuse to embrace the demands of an enlightened society.

Readers may wonder how an esoteric argument, such as ‘what happens when the gay heir to the throne wants to marry their partner?’ affects them. In fact, as I discovered, it goes to the heart of the difficulties of legislating for same-sex marriage in the UK; difficulties that gay and lesbian Christians, in particular, still have to deal with.  Embodied in one person, HM the Queen, are the church and the state. As head of both, she now presides over one organisation that is for gay marriage and one that is not. Princess Alexandra’s situation, as heir to all that, is therefore the perfect prism through which to view the arguments and the experiences of those opposed and those for same-sex marriage.

I should say that my support for same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships has not been altered by the process of writing A Very Civil Wedding, but I do now understand the difficulty of accepting the changes that seem to be happening in leaps and bounds at the moment(!) for those who hold an opposing view to my own.

I have also come to an understanding of how it is possible to say that marriage should be between a man and woman exclusively, and not be homophobic. I realise that some people who are anti-gay marriage are out and out homophobes but many, possibly the majority, are not. They are not homophobic because they don’t hate gay people, they have gay friends, they don’t want to exclude gay people from their church, and they will defend gay people against homophobes. They simply believe that marriage should be between a man and woman exclusively because marriage has a very specific meaning within the liturgy that their church uses.

Arguments about whether the Bible condemns homosexuality explicitly, whether one should follow a text from a different millennia in the modern age, whether homosexuality is a natural part of God’s plan or not, whether you will be taken before the European courts when you refuse a marriage for a gay couple, are side shows. What it all boils down to is this: Christians, and those of other faiths who have similar associations with the word marriage, are being asked to change or expand their understanding of the meaning of that word. And that is difficult for them.

Those of us who support gay marriage see marriage as a less specific word, one that means all sorts of things to different people, from family to love, commitment and partnership. We understand the significance placed upon that word globally to legally validate a couple’s right to be treated as one unit and we see the damage that happens when committed homosexual couples are not afforded the same rights as committed heterosexual couples. We see the word differently and, perhaps, in more flexible terms.

We may now have gay marriage in the UK but, make no mistake, the passing of legislation has not altered the views of those who oppose same-sex marriage. Education is the key to opening up minds to other possibilities and other ways of looking at things. We still have some way to travel on that journey. A Very Civil Wedding is my contribution to a debate that is not yet over in the UK and is still very young in many countries campaigning for equal marriage.

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5 Responses to “A Very Civil Wedding – guest post by V.T. Davy”

  1. szegerton November 27, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Great blog, and a good overview in a nutshell. In fact, it seems that it is semantics which is causing the grit between the cogs. Odd, considering the vast scope of our wonderful language! But of course, even if we came up with an alternative, all-inclusive name for marriage of all types, we’d no doubt be left with the substitute while the original would continue as before. Maybe natural evolution of the language will cure the problem in its own good time.

    • Liberation Publishing November 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Thanks, Szegerton. Language has that ability to evolve but the will to allow it to do so has to be there too. At the moment, the will is lacking in certain quarters. That needs to change first, I think, and then we’ll see progress.

  2. Liberation Publishing November 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Trans Scribe and commented:
    A big thank you to the girls at UKLesFic for hosting a post by me on their blog.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Very Civil Wedding – guest post by V.T. Davy | The Trans Scribe - November 27, 2013

    […] A big thank you to the girls at UKLesFic for hosting a post by me on their blog. You can catch the post here: A Very Civil Wedding – guest post by V.T. Davy […]

  2. Education is key to changing minds - February 5, 2014

    […] big thank you to the girls at UKLesFic for hosting a post by me on their […]

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