Charles Manson Is Getting Married, So Why Are So Many Gay People Still Refused The Same Right?

File:Charles-mansonbookingphoto.jpgWe live in a funny old world.

In the US, there are 17 states where gay marriage remains illegal. Opponents to same-sex marriage maintain that it undermines the sanctity of marriage, that it goes against God, that it's incompatible with a just society, that's it's morally wrong, and, in many cases, that it is a vulgar attack on conservative communities. There's nothing new to these arguments. We once saw something similar in Britain. It's what gay rights campaigners and equal marriage advocates are fighting hard to change.

In the western world, gay marriage is an unstoppable force. Almost certainly, one-hundred years from now, people will look back and think how strange it was that in a time when Islamic State was cutting off heads, when Ebola was spreading across West Africa, when the global economy was treading toilet water that so many people should be so angry about homosexuality.

 I mean, for God's sake, the world is a mess. People got angry about the abolition of the slave trade; they got mad about female suffrage. It feels like only five minutes ago that people were furious about the public smoking ban, but you know what? Things change. Time is both a healer and a facilitator of change. For us however, time is finite and and, for those in love now, what good will social and legal acceptance be a century from now?

Same-sex marriage is illegal in 17 US states - too bad, eh? But - and who ever said romance was dead? - Charles Manson is about to get hitched.

Yeah, THAT Charles Manson. The 80 year-old currently serving a life sentence for his part in the murder of seven people that famously included Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate in 1969.

According to the Associated Press, a marriage licence was granted over 10 days ago meaning he's got a 90 day window to marry his 26 year-old fiancee: prison groupie, Afton Elaine Burton.

Manson is being held in California's Corcoran Prison, whilst Ms Burton lives close by. It might come as a surprise to some that inmates are allow to marry during their incarceration. It's a relatively straight forward affair and is believed to encourage inmates to accept societal norms in preparation for possible future release. 

File:Fence of Prison-BPO.jpgAccording to Corcoran prison regulations, inmates can apply to their caseworker for permission to marry. The ceremony is solumnised by the prison chaplain and takes place within the prison. The couple are allowed to choose ten non-inmate guests, and two inmates to attend.

It's hardly a champagne and cake affair, but it's a workable response to the idea that people have the right to marry. Even for those who have committed the most heinous of crimes.

It doesn't matter that they'll never spend time alone, and that they'll never have children; it doesn't matter that Ms Burton is probably more attracted to his reputation, his infamy, than his delightful personality (I could be wrong). It's not about saying that those serving time shouldn't be allowed to marry, but it seems crazy how simple it is for someone like Manson - a man so adept at manipulation that he was able to incite a killing spree - to legally marry. Here is a man who has shown no remorse for his crimes, who has a swastika tattooed on his forehead and who is still considered to be too dangerous to release back into society.

Manson is still recognised today over three decades after his arrest. People are fascinated by his depravity, his ability to manipulate and his flair for cold blooded calculation. He'll get married because he's a man wanting a wife which is, all things considered, a somewhat bizarre yardstick to measure how deserving someone is to marry.

In the state of California, same-sex marriage is legal, so at least he's not being afforded a luxury that gay couples aren't, but it does offer an interesting comparison. Where are the the pro-marriage, anti-gay activists when convicted killers get married? Where's the sanctity in Kim Kardashian's first marriage? Why aren't they picketing divorce courts?

In 2012, Manson was refused parole and his next hearing is 2027. He will never be released, but he will be someone's legal partner.

Yet in 17 US states and in many countries around the world, homosexuals can't marry the person they love because of the sanctity of marriage, because of God, because of the law, because of anything that can be justified by prejudice.

Like I said, it's a funny old world.

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