Marriage, and garden implements

I wrote this a few years ago to illustrate a point in a debate about marriage equality, before it was legalised in the UK, and the person I was debating with said that they couldn’t see the issue as homosexuals already had Civil Partnerships which were the same as marriage, so why wasn’t that enough? What was the difference and what did they have their glittery panties all in a twist about?

I thought I would share it here for posterity.



A man goes into a shop and says “Hello, I’d like to buy a spade please”

“Certainly, sir”, the shopkeeper replies. “But I need to know what you sexual orientation is”

“My… eh, WHAT?”

“What your sexual orientation is, sir. Terribly sorry, but I can only sell you a spade if you are heterosexual”

“What on earth does that have to do with anything?”

“Those are the rules, sir”

“So, what if I was gay and wanted to buy a spade?”

“Couldn’t sell you one, sir. I’d have to sell you one of these instead” (holds up a spade)

“Um, that’s a spade isn’t it?”

“No, no, sir. It’s an ‘earth-inverting horticultural implement’. It’s just like a spade only it’s called something different”

“So why not call it a spade then?”

“Ahhh…. long history of only heterosexual men being allowed to use a spade, sir. Can’t have the traditionalists getting upset over letting gays use spades, sir. Best thing is to give them the same thing with a different name and hope everyone is happy.”

“But, look, it really is a spade, isn’t it”

(looks around, winks conspiratorially) “Of course it is, sir. But we have to pretend, don’t we? Can’t just let anyone use the word ‘spade’ now can we, sir? It would degrade the ownership experience of all existing heterosexual spade-owners if they suddenly learned gays could own spades too.”

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