At the start of 2013 the Coalition Government presented to Parliament the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which legislates to open up marriage to same-sex couples. In the words of Maria Miller, Secretary of State responsible for the Bill and author of the introduction, it has since progressed against a backdrop of ‘strong feelings on all sides’. The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same-Sex Marriage captures the essence of each of those sides. Here for the first time, the key arguments for and against marriage for gay couples in England and Wales are assembled to address the question at the heart of the issue: whether same-sex marriage is for better or for worse. Bringing together the voices of the central players in this country’s debate on same-sex marriage, The Meaning of Matrimony provides a definitive account of the issues to reflect on. With views ranging from those of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey to human rights activist Peter Tatchell, to anthropologist Roger N. Lancaster and lawyer Nicola Barker, amongst others, the legal, religious, moral, political and above all social implications of widening access to the institution of marriage are explored. The contributors consider whether the Government’s legislation for same-sex marriage is liberal or illiberal; whether marriage should embody ‘tradition’ or social change; who speaks for the support and opposition of same-sex marriage; and importantly, the function marriage performs in
society. Along the way, the essays raise not only the question of whether same-sex marriage is progress but whether adequate discussion on the matter has been had. Where, ultimately, does the balance lie between legislation
and social attitudes? Encompassing family ideals, society’s treatment of homosexuality, and crucially the kind of society we want to be, the gay marriage debate entails much more than a legislative redefinition. With marriage as the platform, The Meaning of Matrimony confronts many of the key dilemmas we face as a developed society in the twenty-first century.