Today's statement by the government on same-sex marriage, and the storm surrounding Friday's news that churches will be able to host these marriages, brought a little twinkle to my eye.
When I was pregnant with Gwen, I walked out of a church-run playgroup because the organisers were encouraging parents to sign a petition against gay marriage. Not just against marriages being held in churches, but against their being held AT ALL.
Lucy Mangan of the Guardian had a similar experience, and wrote about it here.
I was upset for the lesbians and gay men who sometimes visited this playgroup, who might be faced with a petition that claimed their relationships don't have equal status. I was sickened that I had been lulled into thinking the women handing round the horrid petition were kind, and nice (in a cold-showers and jolly-hockey-sticks sort of way). It felt a bit like bending over to pat a particularly endearing puppy, and all of a sudden noticing maggots squirming out of its nose, and rancid black gunk streaming out of its eyes.
But most of all, I was angry with myself. For swallowing my initial misgivings about taking Austin to play regularly in a church, and to join in with the odd song about loving god and Jesus, when I am a non-believer who fundamentally disagrees with some views held by religious groups.
I had turned up every Monday so that Austin could gad about with his friends in one of the most well-organised and (apparently) welcoming playgroups I'd visited. That's part of the problem: in our area, the church-run groups are head and shoulders above the rest. And, in family life, you do the best for your children, right? I'd been going there for months, paying three quid a pop for the privilege of having somebody ask me to sign a bit of paper that - to me - said that some of my dearest friends love each other in a way that isn't right, or good, or acceptable.
Austin and Gwen will grow up learning that religion says a lot of good things about how to treat other people. My religious friends are among the most decent, caring people that I know. But in future I'll draw the line at giving church groups a regular slot in our week's line-up of activities. I don't want to be shocked by any more maggoty petition-wielding women.
I'll be celebrating today's plans for same-sex marriage by looking through old photos of friends' partnership ceremonies. And I'm looking forward to when the next gay couple from our circle announces they're getting married. Even if it's in a church (a nice one, that is).