Every month, in a relaxed location in central London the London Legal Salon will meet to discuss the big questions facing the law today. Attendance is always free. This blog will publish articles by attendees and the organisers to supplement the debates at our monthly meetings.

Every meeting will be introduced by a short talk from a lawyer or commentator in the area under examination. The discussion will then be opened to those attending to make contributions or ask questions. The meetings will last around ninety minutes and operate under Chatham House rules.

The discussions and the articles on this website will look to scrutinise the black letter of the law and its implications in the Courts and wider society. They will also look to situate the law in its historical and political context. We hope that by developing an understanding of where the law has come from, and why the law has taken the form it has today, we may begin to form an idea of where we want it to go.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Should gay people be allowed to marry?

At 1930 on the 26th of June 2012 at the Old Bank Of England on Fleet Street,  the London Legal Salon will meet to discuss gay marriage. 
Over recent months, everyone seems to be coming out in favour of gay marriage. From George Clooney to David Cameron, Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga, support for gay marriage has clearly become the progressive cause of the moment. But opinion remains divided. A government consultation on marriage reform launched earlier this year, which would have allowed for gay marriages in restricted circumstances, split the coalition with David Cameron eventually allowing a free vote on the issue.

Some argue that the current ban on gay marriage is fundamentally a question of equality, akin to women having the vote or rights for ethnic minorities. After all, how can it be right in a liberal society for a group of people to be prevented from taking part in an ancient social institution because of their sexuality? However, others have expressed concerns that allowing gay marriage would devalue marriage as a social institution which has traditionally been associated with procreation. The state’s tinkering with these institutions should be open to scrutiny and critique, especially as there seems to be little public appetite to allow gays to marry.

Would allowing gay marriage devalue traditional marriage? If so, is this a problem? Are those who argue against gay marriage simply homophobes and backwards conservatives? What impact should changing attitudes have on our social institutions and how should the law react?

Email lonlegalsalon@gmail.com to reserve your place.

SPEAKER: Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online.