It Gets Better – Dear Cardinal Keith O’Brien

A Copy of the following Letter has been sent to Archdioscean office and Cardinal’s Residence as a voice of complaint against the letter written and published in the Sunday Telegraph by Cardinal O’Brien.

If you wish to voice your complaints as well, please take the time to do so and I urge that there are no active threats. Let us not sink to the depths of the homophobes but hold ourselves to a better standard. The addresses are and

Dear Cardinal Keith O’Brien 

I don’t see why you guys are complaining about the
economy when there are gays to complain about!

I think we have different issues that we worry about most. For me it’s the economy, the state of our education system, the rising cost of student loans and the fact the people I helped get into power either stabbed me and the rest of their voter base in the back or have no spines. 

While you seem to be more interested in what gay people get up to in the privacy of their own homes. But this has raised a more apt question. We need to ask is why should the Catholic Church have any say in the functioning of our fair nation. What qualifies the cardinal to comment on social policy despite his only visible qualification being the belief in a god and the fact he hasn’t had sex since 1965. Are we seriously suggesting that we should listen to his ideas on why gay marriage should not be called as such? Are these honestly the arguments that you wish to support? 

The Coalition for Marriage parrots the same idiotic diatribes that homophobes have for decades. It’s not even hard knocking down their views. Free speech dictates that we allow you to voice the views you have (Bear in mind the history of the Church with regards to free speech is less than stellar. If Cardinals actually dictated law, we can be damned sure there would be a lot less free speech around.). 

Separate! But equal!

Gay people do not want a variety of legal protections, they want the same protections. In much the same way that black and asian people didn’t want “A variety of equal protection” but EQUAL protection under the same rules. We want an equal society. and it’s impossible to have an equal society if we are drawing up more divisions. The arrangements we put into place were gay people settling for the only thing they could get. It’s not equality. It’s nothing even close to it. 

The problem is now you have to have two sets of laws that need to be constantly updated to match each other. Well? Why have these laws when we can simply just lump the two together and have the same bloody law for everyone? Every time you talk about tax breaks for married couples you need to talk about a tax break for couples in “civil partnerships”. It’s just a ridiculous solution because you assume that marriage means the same thing in every culture.

Historically speaking, marriage has meant a variety of things. The bible alone allows you to

  • Marry your dead brother’s wife
  • Marry your prisoner of war (female)
  • Mate slaves like they were livestock
  • Marry multiple women
  • Marry a woman and her slaves
  • Keep Concubines (also female)
Marriage! It’s not so fun if you are a woman!

Notice how women don’t have any say in any of this. If you as a catholic can honestly accept that women have equal r
ights to men then it’s not a big jump to accept that gay people also deserve equal rights.

So can we just call a spade a spade and call O’Brien out for the homophobe that he is? It’s hatred and bias and bigotry that’s endemic in our society that is being purveyed and encouraged here by the Cardinal. Faith in god doesn’t make you  good. Your actions, your behaviour and your achievements make you good. Do you really need examples of Catholics doing naughty things when the church is well aware of the value of action over faith? 

The physical well being of gay people is fine, The Cardinal merely is referring to old “homosexual HIV outbreaks” as a major problem. The problem being that for a long while gay men had no reason to utilise condoms which halt the spread of HIV. In addition men who have sex with men (a distinction that is important as not all gay men enjoy penetrative anal sex. In fact there are probably just as many straight men who enjoy anal sex and a lot more straight women who enjoy it than gay men. The HIV deaths in the homosexual population may be out of proportion to their population, but their numbers are falling. Remember the AIDS patient who dies today is representative of the statistics about condom usage in the 90s. In addition the men who have sex with men community is a small one and each individual represents a greater proportion of society than the average straight man. So you are more likely to sleep with someone with HIV, resulting in a faster spread of the disease just by dint of having a smaller population and having a reduced choice of sexual partners. 

Mentally? The mental issues of homosexuals is a problem. They are more prone to suicide and depression and mental illness. Mainly because of people like Cardinal O’Brien who create a culture of acceptable bigotry against homosexuals which creates a culture of harassment.

Don’t know what you two are smiling about!
No Jesus means no spiritual well being!
Can’t you see how sick you are!!!

Spiritually? The spiritual well being of people seems to work out just fine even if they don’t believe in your chosen version of a god. I don’t see the Cardinal coming out and stating that he is worried about the spiritual well being of Muslims or Hindus mainly because those two groups are a lot more vocal than homosexuals. I assume this is because the ensuing backlash would be a catastrophic blow to the church but homosexuals are acceptable targets for this kind of cultural imperialism because they aren’t universally liked in society. The Cardinal is appealing to the lowest common denominator of British Society to give weight to his words. 

And you are still scaremongering. 

The redefinition of marriage doesn’t impact anyone except homosexuals. Society will not fall because we include them in marriage. There are more important things taught in school than what a marriage is like science, mathematics, languages, history, geography, economics, PE… This is scaremongering at it’s finest as it paints a picture where the legalisation of marriage will somehow break our schools and destroy society as we know it and we will be reduced to the fragmentation of the UK into feuding neighbourhoods. The implication that marriage is vital to the functioning of society is ridiculous. Society will function without it. Many Scandinavian countries don’t have high rates of marriage and function just fine without it. The repercussions of such a change will be negligible.

If we don’t ban gay marriage, Tina Turner
will kill you with a crossbow.

Yes, words can be redefined at a whim. We changed what we meant when we meant the equality of man when we let people of colour (like myself) into that definition. Lest the good Cardinal forget, the creators of apartheid and segregation was the United Kingdom. We changed the laws when women went to work. And likewise we can change what the law means when it comes down to the definition of marriage. Throughout history? Polygamy, Polyandry, Forced Marriages have all been used to define marriage. The idea that we marry for love is a relatively recent one.

Gay’s Getting Married!
Must be due to Miscegny 

If same sex marriage is a law then the teacher who wants to tell pupils that marriage that marriage means the single union of a man and woman will have to join the teacher who wants to tell pupils that human beings all came from Adam and Eve who lived in a garden 6000 years ago. Their choices are either teach reality or don’t teach at all. It’s not rocket science. What about the teacher who wanted to teach children that black people are not as developed as white people? Should we have kept the law so that he could keep teaching his bigotry?

The teacher’s right to hold stupid views should not be respected. The teacher can hold whatever viewpoint he feels l
ike in his house but is not entitled to those viewpoints in the administration of his job which is the education of children. There are more important things to teach than the vagaries of marriage. You are allowed to show dissent, and we are allowed to dismantle your view points.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights is obviously insufficient for the task. The Universal Declaration is a humanist document and is subject to change. For goodness sake, it’s not gospel. The definition is just becoming a bit more universal than it used to be. It’s not a grotesque subversion of a right, it is the expansion of that right to include more people. If anything the right to get married got a bit more human and a bit more universal.

The Cardinal thinks marriage is trying to imply that marriage is a divinely inspired institution created by his particular god, and not that it was a series of rules created to stop fights breaking out and a method of controlling breeding rights in the same way that apes control breeding rights by simply just beating the living daylights out of other males when they try to mate with females. This began as a refined method of ensuring all males in a group (Yes. I realise I sound horrifically sexist but at this point we were probably not recognisably human as a species) got a chance to breed creating a more harmonious society. Marriage was created by people and by extension a government. Many tribal groups have an idea similar to marriage, even people living at hunter-gatherer level. They have a form of government and while it isn’t similar to ours it is still a government. The laws pertaining to marriage are defined by the government and by expectation and not by the  church. Otherwise I as an atheist cannot get married since any eventual marriage I have will not be under the eyes of any god. So far all O’Brien has managed to do is convince me that we shouldn’t give government breaks to people who get married. Why should a religious institution be protected by government when it blatantly discriminates against people? 

For a man who isn’t going to get married the Cardinal seems to be awfully interested in a institution he knows nothing about. We aren’t blasé about marriage so much as realising that as a human being marriage can be extended to other people without cheapening the ideas on which humanists have built marriage. I fail to understand how letting gay people get married will reduce the alleged stabilising influence it has on our society. Gay people make up less than 5% of our society and are we honestly suggesting that letting this 5% marry each other will somehow cause our society to fall apart? Do you realise how utterly moronic this sounds to any sane human being? 

Bad things happen when the Catholic Church
thinks about children.

And the assumption that a child’s parents need to be married in order to have a “mother and a father” is grossly insulting to the umpteen amounts of children who are born out of wedlock. I understand the church is behind the times but it’s 2012. Bastards aren’t indicative of a massive failure in morality so much as an indication that the parents didn’t feel it was necessary to sign a form and drop a couple of thousand quid on a ceremony before they got married. You may think this is a massive moral failing but I think that just makes you a ridiculous dinosaur holding onto the prejudices of the past as if they mean anything in a society which has grown from strength to strength as a whole and that believes that we should not discriminate against the GLBT community over something as simple and as meaningful to some as a marriage. 

I speak with experience on this matter.

I am not sure about what they are teaching in sex education in the Vatican these days but I know you guys are incredibly bad at it. The Gay and Lesbian communities cannot have children “normally”. I thought all of us knew that. Gay men have to use surrogates and lesbians have to use a male sperm donor. The argument that “all children deserve to begin life with a mother and father” is not an argument against gay marriage but against gay adoption and artificial fertilisation. Those are entirely different topics and the Cardinal is just trying to confuse the issue while clouding the fact that biologically speaking two gay men and two lesbians cannot have children any more than I can get a chair pregnant. 

You may think that all children deserve to begin their life with a mother and father but I know that all children deserve to be loved. Not all children are blessed with a happy life, many lose their biological parents to death and disease. Many cannot be cared for by their biological parents and are put up for adoption. Whatever the case may be, the world and indeed the UK is filled with children who are not loved. Now I don’t know what makes a good father but I damn well know that what children need is love. And if two gay men or two lesbian women are capable of loving a child then the child will grow up happier and can achieve things in it’s life in a far happier environment than in a series of foster homes which aren’t permanent. Now these GLBT couples are not taking away children from “straights” but they are taking children in who don’t have loving families and giving them one.

The idea of gender roles is no longer widely accepted. By the Catholic Church’s definition of mother and father I have none because both my parents were doctors. I was raised by babysitters until I could fend for myself. My mother is a surgeon and her job is a traditionally male one. She broke gender boundaries as dictated by society thus making her a terrible mother since she didn’t sit at home teaching girls to be homemakers and follow female role models. She instead IS A role model for young girls everywhere. Children can grow up without conventional mother and father figures, and so can be brought up by two men or two women. If the bloody president of
the USA can be brought up by a single mother then I am damn sure a kid adopted by a gay couple can be brought up in a similar way. 

And then the Cardinal moves on to poly-amorous relationships. Well for starters, poly-amorous people genuinely love each other. It’s not all fun and orgies but genuine work stemming from the belief that love is not a finite thing and that a person can love more than one person. And that a honest relationship like this can work, with the operative word being “honest”. 

Even if a poly couple sought to get married, it would be with their “main partner” or the person whom the share the greatest bond with. It would not be similar to this hypothetical case of multiple men and women since it usually is a chain of partners rather than a web. And again, I don’t see what the problem is in creating a social contract that accepts it. And this is an assumption that poly couples believe that fidelity is the mark of a marriage when by nature poly people do not believe in the version of fidelity we do. Their fidelity is more based on a honest open relationship and the fact that they can love more than one human being at a time. Ours is that we cannot comprehend a relationship where sex is not the major determinant of fidelity.

While Catholic Sex Education is a muttered
warning about Father Johnson

The final strawman of this travesty of bigotry comes from the argument that somehow school libraries will have to carry stories containing homosexual themes. It’s a mad world where we consider homosexual themes of something like King & King (a mild book about a Prince’s search for a Princess culminating in him falling in love with another Prince). Older high school students in the Boston region were given a pamphlet that wasn’t so much about homosexual advocacy as much as it was about helping boys (it’s aimed at men) realise a bunch of resources about their homosexuality while treating it as patently normal and providing sex education in a colloquial fashion. I had a similar class to this when I was 15 and 16 in Grammar School. Education should deal with these themes. What’s the point of education if we fail to educate people about the reality of the situation. 

MTV Cribs is destroying what it means
to own a house!

Same sex marriage is not compulsory. If you don’t want to get gay married, don’t get gay married. It’s that simple. I am sure that gay men aren’t going up to Abu Hamza wanting his blessing for their marriage and I am sure gay men won’t be visiting Cardinal O’Brien for his benediction. Gay people don’t want to get married in a ceremony around a homophobe in much the same way that I don’t want Nick Griffin officiating at mine.

The slavery analogy is faulty and illogical but then again what’s new? You are an institution that believes in magic, logic isn’t your strong point. The argument is more akin to saying that there are two laws. The first being that only people may own property while there is a second law stating that coloureds are not people. The good Cardinal in this case would be against the removal of the second law for fears that it would destroy the first law as black and asian people bought houses and this would denigrate the spirit of house ownership.

 You can compare slavery to marriage all you like but this isn’t a Rodney Dangerfield or a Bernard Manning joke. This is serious business. Slavery is NOTHING like this and you are not only insulting the GLBT community with this analogy but insulting the memories of those who were kept as slaves. And it insults marriage.

I want to get married some day. I really do, I am single now, but one day I hope I will find a nice lady who likes my angry rants, giant lists and sexy tan who agrees to marry me. And I don’t think marriage is weakened or crippled or damaged in any way by sharing it with the GLBT community. I don’t think my marriage to this fantasy woman will somehow become cheaper if more people can have the same sort of meaning from the event that I do. I consider myself a fairly staunch defender of marriage but accept that what I believe a marriage is about is different from what someone else may see in it.

With that in mind? I think the greatest damage to marriage done in this argument is not by the GLBT community but by people like Cardinal O’Brien. Good grief! The man thinks the sole reason for a marriage is to have and support babies.

Marriage has existed for countless reasons.

  • To have babies while treating women as nothing more than a traded uterus. 
  • For political gain and intrigue
  • For peace in times of war 
  • For money
  • For power
  • For love
  • Because of an accident
  • For fear of loneliness
  • Because of a pregnancy
  • Because of what society says
  • To hide a secret
Of all those, love is the only one we in the first world really marry for. That is the ideal that we want as people even though we know that people marry for other reasons. I think of the normal idea of an arranged marriage as a horrid insult, a coercive situation
where two people are married because of what their parents think and often for money, power and what society says. Many marriages in rural parts of India and Pakistan treat women as nothing more than a burden where the boy has to be paid to take a uterus of their hands. And suddenly we think that gay marriage is going to destroy the institution of marriage?

Marriage is fine as it is. If your marriage is the eggshell thin marriage of Cardinal O’Brien then you should fear for marriage as we know it. If the antics of the latest celebrity marriage being flogged for money to newspapers won’t destroy marriage then do you really think a bunch of gays getting married will? If the latest celeb couple du jour break up, do you think it will affect marriage?

That’s the difference between your paltry idea of marriage and mine. Mine would be based on love, respect, humour, sensibility and a shared idea of what we wanted in life. And that kind of marriage is universal and not just for us straights. That kind of marriage will make the United Kingdom a beacon of tolerance and better for the small but significant community of us who call themselves GLBT.

In Disgust,



  1. Rpweiss says

    The only problem with this is you have no link to the original letter you are asking others to write and complain about.

  2. Rpweiss says

    Actually, I just found it. You may wish to underline the link at the top of this page so others will know it's a hyperlink. For those wishing to view The Telegraph, click on the words, "The Telegraph" at the beginning of this article. Avicenna, thanks so much for posting this.

  3. says

    The links are supposed to be in a different colour. Thanks for the message, I shall poke the format options till it is.

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