“I will sign Khouloud and Nidale’s marriage,” Marwan Charbel – our minister of interior affairs – declared today, “even though I do not support civil marriage myself.”
I don’t get why it seems like not supporting civil marriage is actually a healthy mentality for politicians who are ruling our country.
Perhaps it is to please their growing political aspirations, after all the majority of Lebanese apparently do not support the issue with drastic differences across sects. A recent poll I read shows the following results: Druze and Christians support civil marriage with more than 60% while Shiites and Sunnis oppose it with more than 70%. The total comes down to almost 57% not supporting civil marriage.
Khouloud and Nidale’s marriage passed through a lot to get to where it is. There was a time where it appeared it won’t pass as minister of justice Shakib Qortbawi said he doesn’t believe the legal aspects of it work out. A committee that was assigned to look into the issue decided that the marriage was in fact legal and despite statements from minister of interior affairs that he wouldn’t sign, he apparently did.
So it is now official – Lebanon has now had its first civil marriage ever. But at what price?
Could Nidale and Khouloud’s marriage truly get more Lebanese who are enthusiastic about this to do what they did (link)? They stroke off their sects off all their legal documents, when through a lot of legalities in order to bypass the strict counter-regulations to what they were doing and eventually had to wait months and months until their issue was resolved.
Their marriage and the debate that ensued sparked reactions from religious and common folk that no one could have expected. From fatwas declaring apostasy on all Muslim politicians who approve of it to Christian priests convening for the main purpose of discussing it.
I’m willing to bet that if their issue hadn’t received media attention, it wouldn’t have ended up this favorably as well.
The questions to be asked are: will Nidale and Khouloud’s marriage be the first of many to be done in the same way? Or will the hardships they went through deter people from doing so when the alternative is much, much simpler? Will their marriage open up the flood gates or will it remain a singular event standing in a country that seems to be as close to legalizing civil marriage as it is to come up with a new electoral law especially when so many couples are nowhere near willing to strike off their sects just to get married while there is a much simpler alternative only 100km and $2000 away?
Congrats to Nidale and Khouloud. Hopefully their struggle to have their union recognized doesn’t die off as another cause du jour in a country where causes are faster to spring up than rabbits reproducing.