31 August 2011

Manchester Pride

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This weekend was a big event in the city's calendar. Manchester's Gay Pride celebrations attract people from all over the country who come together to share a week of fun and acceptance.

While this is a weekend of friendship and fun, it is still a political event. I won't pretend to know the pain and trials of LGBT experiences, but I thought I might share my own perspective.

I've been marching in the Manchester Pride Parade since I joined the Quakers three years ago. In fact, it was their attitude towards same-sex relationships which attracted me to Quakers in the first place.

For me it's simple, God is love. Anything that brings more love into this world is a good thing - no matter their gender.

I'm not gay, simply because I've not yet a woman I'm attracted to in that way (and that's unlikely to change now I'm in a happy monogamous relationship), but I do have gay friends.  When you speak about their relationships and lives, it's clear they are experiencing the same love and emotions we all feel.

If the feeling and experiences are the same, how can you say that gay marriages are different?  Quakers have a wonderful phrase 'For we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.' As far as Quakers are concerned God has already been binding gay couples in loving relationships and now it's our responsibility to recognise them.

For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests’ or magistrates’; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses. (George Fox 1669)

We're not trying to force other religions to do the same, but currently we're legally prevented from following our religious leading. Quakers are now actively petitioning the government to change the law so we can register and perform gay marriages in exactly the same way as heterosexual marriages.