"Is not marriage an open question when it is alleged, from the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out; and such as are out wish to get in."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1850
So that's it then, society is doomed. The government has formally announced (after heavy trails at the weekend, and an emergency question in the commons yesterday) that not only is Equal Civil Marriage to be legislated for but religious organisations will be able to opt-in and offer Equal Religious Marriages too.
Beyond this, the Church of England and the Church in Wales will be outside of the option to "opt-in" with Equal CoE/CiW Marriage made illegal - effectively meaning that this issue will have to come back to Parliament if they ever want to pursue this issue themselves.
Civil Partnerships will remain single-gender arrangements, but there will be provision made to allow these to be converted to marriage. There is also provision for transgendered people not to have to their marriages forcefully annulled when they apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
So that's it; we're headed off to Hell in a Handcart. Society is now in the grip of Secularists and Sodomists. Political Correctness HAS gone mad and God has been jettisoned in favour of granting rights to every minority that shouts loud enough. Our Christian heritage has been traduced, and traditional marriage has been devalued.
The arguments against Marriage Equality range from the spurious ("the European Court will force Churches to hold gay marriages") to the ridiculous ("it's a first step to legalised Bestiality and Necrophilia"*). I'm sure many of them were deployed when Civil Partnerships were introduced, yet somehow society has survived.
At their root though, they boil down to a fear that a once dominant position in society has been eroded and their influence has been diminished. If marriage were to be redefined - and church marriages ultimately allowed - they would be marginalised further. The majority know how minorities are treated - those in the campaign against equal marriage are desperate to avoid becoming the minority.
This fear may be real but the forecast calamitous results of Equal Marriage are not. In reality, what today has done has opened up the possibility for hundreds of thousands of men and women that they, too, will be able to have their relationship recognised by the state in exactly the same way as their straight family, friends, colleagues.
It will send a message to young gay, bisexual and lesbians that society acknowledges them as equal citizens.
It even allows some of us who are a bit longer in the tooth to imagine (in our less cynical moments at least) that should the circumstances arise, we too could walk up the aisle to declare solemnly and take this man as my lawful wedded...**
A more equal society - with recognition and protection for all minorities - is not to be feared. Such protection should, rightly, extend to those people and organisations who feel they, too, are becoming a minority. Those of us who are in the ascendancy must bear that in mind - the aim is an equal civil society, not a homogenised one.
Those who do not wish to celebrate Equal Marriage need not, and should not fear compulsion. They, though, should accept that equality before the law - and before a legal definition of marriage - is good for everyone. Ultimately, they have created an institution that people want to be part of - why fight to keep them out?
* Polygamy is normally in this list too - omitted here as there are people for whom such an arrangement works well and, in due course, we should look at recognising their relationships in law too.
**There's another blogpost in there somewhere, but once upon at time I harboured such notions as meeting someone and settling down for the long term. When CPs were introduced I probably still had such thoughts but they long since dissipated. Perhaps I should park my cynicism and become a bunny-boiler...