…and tell me if anyone could do so and still think love between two people of the same sex isn’t the same as “normal” love, or that it shouldn’t be recognised just as much through marriage as love of any other sort.
The letter, republished by the excellent Letters of Note blog, was written from one World War Two GI to another, his lover, on their anniversary:
This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.
Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.
We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.
Goodnight, sleep well my love.
The gay marriage debate is back.
The Coalition plans to lift the ban, changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. The Independent reports that David Burrowes MP is (somewhat implausibly) claiming there will be a triple-figure rebellion of Tory backbenchers to defeat the plans.
The Evangelical Alliance claim the proposals signal “the end of conservatism” (despite Evangelical Christianity being a new radicalism, rather than a conservative movement). Ben Summerskill of Stonewall has accused backbench Tories of “old-fashioned homophobia” (on the evidence of only one MP’s comments).
On one side, supposedly the very concept of the family is threatened if the Government changes its regulations. On the other side, unless the Government extends its regulations then a whole tranche of the population are given second class status under the law.
The mud flies, the rhetorical stakes are raised again and again. Questions fly, and few useful answers are delivered.
But what is the libertarian response? The answer must surely be that the State should not regulate marriage at all.
Two people agree to make a private contract between each other. They make it for love, or for family logistics, or for religious belief. They make their vows before God, or before their friends and family or simply before each other. That is down to them.
Marriage is an unusual kind of contract, but it is one nonetheless – each party makes pledges, receiving promises and takes on responsibilities in return.
Where is the Government’s place at the wedding breakfast table? Why should the grey-suited regulator get a save-the-date and a dainty invite?
The best way to banish the acrimony and the legislative to and fro over same sex marriage is to abolish the regulation of all marriage entirely. It is the vowing to each other, the exchanging of rings and the sealing kiss, not the signing of the State’s register, that is the focal point of a couple’s day.