Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


On gay marriage

13 December 2012

I hesitated before posting this. I don’t have anything new or interesting to say. But this may be a time when it’s somewhat useful for lots of people to say the same obvious thing.

So, this is what I think of gay marriage.

There are, in the UK, a significant number of gay people. In other words, men who are sexually attracted to other men and women who are attracted to other women.1

Morally, I cannot see any distinction between heterosexual desire and homosexual desire. Wanting to have sex with men and having sex with men is, of itself, no better or worse than wanting and having sex with women.2 It’s morally neutral. And I cannot see how the gender of the people involved makes any difference.

Despite this, gay people have faced significant discrimination and hardship. They have suffered from the sort of ugly, unreasoning prejudice that humanity is all too prone to. Thankfully this is starting to change.

Now, some gay people would like to get married. We should let them. Because there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t and, when people say they love each other and would like to express that love in a particular way, the decent human thing to do is to cheer them on unless there is some compelling reason not to.

I’d think this regardless of past events. But, fortunately, we have experience of civil partnerships and gay marriage in other countries. These confirm that there is nothing to worry about and no compelling reason to interfere.

Some religious organisations disagree. They think that God is against homosexuality. Personally, when I’ve glanced at religious teachings, I’ve concluded this is bad theology,based on misunderstanding and prejudice.

Nonetheless, religious freedom is an important principle. So is freedom of speech. So is freedom of association. People have the right to pursue their own beliefs, even (perhaps especially) when others think they’re wrongheaded. So religious organisations who don’t want to endorse gay marriage or hold same sex marriages in their buildings shouldn’t have to.

Some religious organisations, however, are in favour of same sex marriage. They would like to celebrate and perform gay marriages.

The government should let them. Anything else is an intolerable interference with religious freedom.

  1. There are also bisexual people, who are attracted to both genders. And this is all a simplified classification of a much more complicated aspect of human psychology. But it’s sufficient for the purposes of this discussion. 

  2. Obviously, the actual expression of sexual desire and sex creates all sorts of moral issues. But these are much the same regardless of the gender permutations of those involved. 

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