Saturday, July 16, 2011

Equality...and same sex marriage and cigars

This is a (semi bad) translation of a column I wrote recently that caused some uproar.

Recently New York acknowledged the right for people of the same sex to marry. And even when I wouldn't describe myself as the marrying kind I fully agree with that decision. But should such a vote even be necessary? I don't think so. I think we should abandon lawful marriage altogether.

We live in a world where we say one thing but make laws, or interpret laws in a way, that do not support those words. I know that somewhere in the law there is something like "everyone is equal" but we all know that this is not the case. I know that somewhere in the law it says that religion and state are separated but in truth many things in the law find their origin in religion and although this isn't a bad thing in itself, it can cause conflicts.

And one of those conflicts is lawful marriage. Lawful marriage has become the holy grail for those of the same sex wanting to get married because, due to the fact religion has had influence on how the law was worded, it historically only is open for marriage between a man and a woman.
But what really makes a lawful marriage important is what is attached to it. Most important: the instant recognition as partner and the numerous regulations that come into effect once one is recognized as such.

Just a side step: Take a step back to the French Revolution around 1790 and you would hear the words Liberty, Equality and Fraternity but still women weren't allowed to vote there until 1944. So much for a successful revolution and Equality.

In my opinion we should stop with (the term) lawful marriage. If everyone is equal, marriage by law should be open to any combination of persons and any number. Giving each and everyone the benefits that come with it. That would be full equality. There should remain some sort of registration of course and when one wished to celebrate that fact they could still throw a party. Come to think of it this would finally put a positive spin on the phrase Going into registration.

To be absolutely clear: All the above doesn't include church weddings and what you have. The law states that everyone is equal and applies to everyone. What religions and churches say is up to them. To become a member you have to agree to their guidelines and regulations. As long as those do not come into conflict with the law there is no reason to change those.
When a church doesn't want to marry two people of the same sex that will remain their choice but it would have just as much influence as a men's club not having women as members or a cigar club not allowing cigarettes.

Carry on.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


A little over twenty years ago my friend Peter, who for reasons nobody can remember was called Cor, died in a freaky car accident, just two days after the birth of his daughter Nicole. I've written about him once before describing how, when our group of footballing friends meets, we order an extra beer in his memory when the last round comes up. There is however another story about Cor and one worth sharing.

A few months after Cor had died his wife visited a football match we were playing. She brought Nicole with her and was instantly swarmed by our then girlfriends. A few of which have since progressed into wifes or ex-wifes but most have disappeared all together.
Anyway, after the match we started discussing how sad it was for Nicole never to have known her father, who was a really funny guy with normal flaws. Her mother, Margot, wouldn't be able to tell her too much as they'd known each other for just a year and her grand parents were unable to speak bad about their only son.
So we decided it was up to us to create the full picture and the idea came up to make a book for Nicole with our memories to be given to her on her 15th birthday.

I was assigned as one of the writers and it took us the best part of a year to gather all the stories and writing them in a way they could be read by a young girl. (We got some help from the aforementioned then girlfriends there) We also added numerous photo's and ended up with a 60 page book. A balanced tribute with the good, the funny and also the ugly.

Over the years we received occasional updates about Nicole, Margot had re-married and moved from the region. In all honesty contact was lost except for one ex-wife who was still in contact with them. But Nicole's 15th birthday was coming up and the book had to be handed over. So, very cautiously, contact was established to find out how such a gift would be received and it turned out Margot and her husband were very supportive.
The book went on the way to its final destination.

A few weeks later we gathered for a barbecue and drinks and a young girl holding a book came by, followed discreetly by obviously her mother. "Hi, I'm Nicole. I heard you were coming together here and I wanted to thank you all for the memories." The entire afternoon then was spend reading the book, laughing about the memories and colouring in the blanks for the 15-year-old girl.

Perhaps you ask yourself why I write about this six years later but I never would have if this week we all wouldn't have received a card announcing the birth of a healthy baby girl. With the card was a small handwritten note saying: "Thank you for all the memories, N."

Oh and the newborns name: Catherina Orelia Roxanne

Luckily they call her Kate but I can not guarantee that when we have the opportunity we won´t call her Cor.