Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Gay Marriage – and the Season of good will!

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols and The Rt Rev Mark Davies of Shrewsbury are both quoted in The Independent today as using part of their Christmas messages to oppose the government’s proposals on equal marriage.

I profoundly believe and fight for freedom of speech and I defend their right to say what they have said. So I pen this not in anger – but in sorrow.

Of course you can disagree with equal marriage. You can believe that it can only be between a man and a woman. You can ultimately resist getting married to someone of the same sex if you don’t want to when this becomes law. What you surely cannot do is simply rail against the fact that not everyone subscribes to your point of view and then try to stop others living life in a different way than your religion dictates.

And it is quite shameful to argue against equal marriage on the grounds that religions will be forced to conduct such marriages. The Government’s intention to make it possible for those religions that wish to conduct such services to have the freedom to so do -  and the Government is bending over backwards (some would say too far) to ensure any fears of religions being forced to conduct such marriages are unwarranted.

It is even more shameful when that argument is lost to simply shift to the next argument as being the most important – that there is no mandate (The Rt Rev Mark Davies’ Christmas message). Good grief! Not only did all three leaders at the time of the election and since make clear that they all supported equal marriage; not only is it in the Conservative Equality commitment document; not only is it Liberal Democrat Party policy; not only do all polls show the majority in favour of equal marriage; not only did the largest response to a consultation by government in all history also show a majority in favour – but since when did any government do only that which was in a manifesto? A manifesto is a prospectus of what a government will do – not a prospectus of all it will do. The Coalition agreement is a compromise of the two manifestos. That does not preclude – and never has – the bringing forward of further proposals which are then democratically decided by a vote in the Houses of Parliament.

The other argument brought forth and paraded is that of ‘redefining’ marriage. Well – that depends on your definition. Mine is exactly what the Archbishop of Westminster decries in his statement – that where there is love and commitment between two people that is all you need for marriage. He also argues that these matters have not been given much thought. Oh please! This issue has probably had more thought and discussion than any other issue of the day!

It is very disappointing that religious leaders who object so forcefully to equal marriage seem to have so little faith in their own beliefs. If their religious beliefs are that marriage can only be between a man and a woman – they should have the confidence in their flocks to believe that too. And if it is their own flocks’ potential for disagreeing with them that is their real fear – then that is a matter for religious leaders and their congregations to sort out.

This is all about love actually!

Wed 26 December 2012
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Comments

  1. karl says:

    David Cameron cannot keep his promise that same sex copules will not be permitted to marry in any church that opposes same sex weddings on faith grounds. Look at the evidence-Cameron cannot prevent convicted prisoners from having the vote and cannot deport Abu Quatar who has clearly incited acts of terrorism. Without a mandate from the British people successive Governments have surrendered the “last say” to unelected European judges. ECHR lawyers are waiting patiently to unpick the Governments worthless “quadruple lock”. That is why Christains have no faith in any ressurances from this Government.
    Furthermore lets just reflect on this. Here in 21st Century, tolerant, multi cultural Britain a religiouly baseed adoption agency has been forced to close its doors because they hold a faith opinion that is at odds with the Government of the day. Catholic adoption agencies were outlawed because they had the temerity to hold the opinion that the best place to raise a child is in a marriage between a man and a woman. This is not a bed and brekfast equality of service issue but a faith issue based in honestly held religious beliefs. I fully respect the right for Gay people to live their lives as they choose but many Christians do not see that same tolerenace when it comes to their honestly held faith beliefs. Christianity is being merginalised and this matter is fast turning into a watershed for many Christains to demand their rights to follow their beliefs without hinderance from the Government.

  2. Hendrik Haye says:

    Nicely said Peter. I would have thought that there are more important subjects at this time. Rather than taking on these side-issues and let’s be fair this marriage fiasco was never put in any party’s manifesto, we should very seriously indeed sort out the finances of this country and stop pussy-footing around. The coalition needs to have a good look whether their policies, as declared in their manifestos, are actually attained or attainable. As Peter indicates, from a religious point of view you cannot pick and choose. You cannot alter the Bible and what it says.
    It says – marriage is between a man and a woman for the procreation of children. To be followed by the provision of a stable homelife and parents to be sound role models. In my opinion it is these side issues that have no merit at all and are detrimental to society as a whole. So my advice to Lynne is – keep to the manifesto and devote your time to help sorting out the mess left by the Labour party.

  3. Abingdon Neil says:

    Rosemary makes a point that I’ve heard a lot of opponents of the legislation makes, that “a change to the meaning of marriage will hurt the many people who believe in it as a unique institution”.

    As a hetrosexual, happily married father of four, I fail to see how two other people getting married causes me any ‘hurt’ at all, whatever their genders.

    The strength of my marriage is not affected one iota by gay people being able marry each other.

  4. Chris McCormick says:

    @ Peter: I think you misunderstand what secular is. It is possible to be deeply religious and still secular. In fact, to ensure your freedom of religion is protected you too should support secularism.

    Secularism is not, necessarily anti-religion or anti-theism. Of course, if you listen to the likes of the Pope you will get the impression that secularism means the end of the world. Secularism, in government, is simply the idea that no particular religion holds sway and the reasons for a particular law have justification rooting in the political rather than the religious.

    If you look at somewhere like Iran you has a theistic country. This is fine if you happen to believe the particular version of theism that happens to be in power, but it is very bad if you don’t. That is a very extreme example, but I think it makes a good point. Theistic societies, or societies that base law on a particular religious belief are hostile to those that hold a different belief.

    In a secular society things are different. By using political justifications for laws everyone’s religious beliefs will have equal standing. Now, you likely aren’t going to agree with this, so I will clarify further. Secular laws, or laws based on secular reasoning will not threaten your right to hold a particular belief. They will not criminalise you for holding a particular belief. At the same time, they might not protect the content of your belief, or allow you to discriminate against someone using your religious belief as justification. What you do in your own home is your business. What you do in your church is your business. When you try to push your discriminatory belief onto others, particularly those that don’t hold those beliefs, then we have a problem.

    Again this whole redefinition of marriage crops up. Why is it such a problem? Why is this particular redefinition such a problem? Why was it ok to change marriage to allow interracial union? Why was it ok to change marriage to allow divorce? What is so bad about same sex marriage?

    Society and language is in constant flux. The religious can’t claim a word that has been around since before many religions as their own and refuse any change to it. It is theirs to claim.

    I would not get too caught up in the consultation figures. I think you should look more closely at the polls. The vast majority of the country is in favour of gay marriage, your 600 000 signatures is a mere 1% of the population and where your position is 30% behind, it is of little use to you.

    @ David White: You’re too kind.

    @ karl: Same sex marriage in church is a slightly different beast to prisoner voting or extradition. The churches have a right, recognised by the EU, to run their religions according to their particular doctrine. The religious are allowed to discriminate on children’s entry into schools, based on parents religious beliefs and also on employees.

    I am really not convinced that the EU will have any interest in forcing churches, against their will, to conduct same sex church weddings.

    On the subject of the Catholic adoption agencies, let get something straight here. They were not outlawed, nor were they forced to close. They voluntarily chose to close because they were told they would not be allowed to discriminate. They are perfectly entitled to hold the belief that a man and woman are best for raising a child (even though there is absolutely no evidence at all, whatsoever that this is the case) but they can’t use that belief, particularly as it is completely unfounded, to discriminate against a section of the population.

    Christianity is not being marginalised. It place in society is being normalise. Saying Christianity is being marginalise or persecuted is an offense to those being in this world that are being marginalise and persecuted.

    @ Hendrik: Do people really honestly actually believe a government, and the tens of thousands of civil servant sitting behind them can only, or should only, deal with one thing at a time? Really?

    Why is this side issue detrimental to society? This is another claim that is casually thrown about with no effort to explain exactly how it is detrimental.

    I will finish this post off with a quote from Alan Clark that I am quite fond of:

    “In my 60 years, I’ve watched organised religion scream in protest against almost every measure that has made our world more humane, compassionate and civilised.”

  5. Abingdon Neil says:

    @Peter “@Tom. My point is that if they support it, they are not Catholic. They may believe in God in their own way but not in the Catholic way. Catholicism has very clear teaching on this and you either choose to sign up to it or you don’t – entirely your choice of course. But what you may not do is pick and choose from Catholicism based on your own personal fancies. If a Catholic MP votes for this then he should leave the Church and do it with integrity.”

    Nonsense. They may simply draw a distinction between the laws of the state and the teaching of their church, in a similar way to which Catholic teaching about divorce is different to the law on divorce.

    “I have no problem with people having secular views – I think they’re wrong but they think I’m wrong so we’re quits. What I do have a problem with is claiming to hold a set of views and then discarding the ones that don’t suit. There is no integrity in that – it’s just dishonest.”

    Many individuals and organisations change their views over time. For example the Catholic Church changed their view on Hitler and the Nazis some years after supporting the Enabling Act in 1933. Do you think they were ‘dishonest’ discarding that view they later didn’t like?

    “One persons right generally means taking away from someone else’s freedom or rights.”

    No it doesn’t.

    “The ‘redefinition’ of marriage changes the institution and all those currently in it who will no longer be married in the way they thought they were.”

    No it doesn’t. I have been married for seventeen and a half years and my marriage will mean exactly the same to me the day after equal marriage becomes law as it did the day before. I will have exactly the same legal rights as I had before and exactly the same commitment to my wife and children.

    “Those who propose this have a problem; that is, they can’t get inside my head or any one else’s and force them to ‘believe’ in it.”

    I don’t see that as much of a problem. I doubt the Government will care much either.

    “I’m afraid that if a couple of my gay friends rock up one day and say that they have got married a) I won’t be able to acknowledge that and b) I’m afraid I’ll just laugh.”

    That says a lot more about your understanding of friendship than of the Government’s understanding of marriage.

    “The only way that this can be made to work is for proponents to redefine what marriage means.”

    Yup, that’s kinda the point of the legislation.

    “I can decide that my dog is, in fact, an armadillo – and I can pass legislation to say that it is. I’m afraid, though, that when I point to Scruff and say “Look! An armadillo!” I must not be surprised when people laugh at me.”

    Based on what you’ve written here this scenario is all too believable.

    “What I want to know is what sanctions are to be brought against those of us who will just laugh and refuse to believe it? Are we to be fined or imprisoned?”

    Tempting as your proposal is I don’t think the proposed legislation comes with any specific sanctions agianst those trying to defy reality once the Act has been passed.

    “Or are we to be pointed at and called bigots because we continue to believe what we’ve always believed!”

    Given that you semm to belive that it should be considered OK for you to laugh at any of your gay friends who tell you they have got married it seems a little churlish to then object to other people calling you a bigot for behaving like a bigot.

    “the whole force of the illiberal liberal hate machine will be brought down on my head as a reactionary ‘shameful’ bigot.”

    If the ‘whole force of the illiberal liberal hate machine’ results in someone calling you a bigot for being a bigot you do seem to be overly worried.

    “Can no one else see how mad that is!?”

    Hmm. Go on. Have a guess as to which side of the debate I think the madness lies!?

    “Finally, on the point of numbers that was raised a post or two ago.
    LF claims that the majority of those (some 200,000) who responded to the government consultation where in favour. This explicitly excludes the 600,000 who responded via the Coalition for Marriage petition – this was, for some mysterious reason, excluded as not being part of the consultation! Every one of those 600,000 signatures was signed with names and e-mails. A large number (and forgive me, I do not have time to look it up) of the government consultation positive responses were anonymous and therefore subject to dispute. LF is correct that the majority of the public are in favour or indifferent. However, the majority of the public also want to bring back hanging and leave Europe – this majority is never mentioned by LF and her ilk who pick and chose which polls to quote to suit their arguments. Intellectually rather shallow, don’t you think?”

    ‘Intellectually rather shallow’ is a phrase that has struck a chord with me, but not in the same way.

  6. Abingdon Neil says:

    @Hendrik “Rather than taking on these side-issues and let’s be fair this marriage fiasco was never put in any party’s manifesto, we should very seriously indeed sort out the finances of this country and stop pussy-footing around.”

    In what way does bringing forward legislation for equal marriage stop the Governemnt from working on the economy? Parliament sits for many more hours in a week than is needed to debate the economy. They routinely debate several issues in any one period.

    And if it is such a ‘side-issue’ and your priority is genuinly to get the economy sorted out why not just pipe down and let the legislation go through.

    “As Peter indicates, from a religious point of view you cannot pick and choose.”

    So why do the Pope and various Archbishops choose to spend so much time talking about the evils of homosexuality but not the vast array of other sins that are also covered in the bible. Every time they make a speech they ‘pick and choose’ which bits of the bible to emphasise, and for some reason they keep emphasising homosexuality. Why not focus on child sex abuse, surely a far greater evil? (or are they too ashamed of their own track record) Or on the evils of oppressive regimnes? (Again, they may still be a bit embarrassed about that one) Or other things that are just as forbidden in the bible as gay sex such as eating shellfish, gossiping or having a tattoo?

    “You cannot alter the Bible and what it says. It says – marriage is between a man and a woman for the procreation of children. To be followed by the provision of a stable homelife and parents to be sound role models.”

    Does it? Where exactly? And does it not also include several different versions of marriages, such as men with several wives?

  7. Tony Sargeant says:

    My question is simple where is the churches mandate to decide who can and cannot get married. The church just provides one of a number of venues for marriage services. A number of different faiths already allow same sex marriage services. Even in their many different arguments against equal marriage the church leaders seem confused as to what marriage is. Different faiths have a different idea. Perhaps the right to hold any marriage service should be removed from the churches until they all can agree on a common definition. Until that time register offices could perform the ceremony with the church giving a blessing – that way we will have equal marriage recognition and churches could then discriminate on who they blessed. That is if the couple wanted to jump through further hoops.

  8. Tom says:

    In 2009 the number of civil marriages was double that of all religious marriages. The total numers of civil marriages was 155,950. The number of CofE marriages was 56,236 and the number of Roman Catholic marriages stood at a measly 8,426, the remaining marriages were at other religious instituions

    I find it outrageous that the religious organisations, particulary the Catholic church, is imposing their view of marriage on the rest of us when the number of people wishing to do religious marriages is falling dramatically each year. We are NOT all religious and most of us have rejected religious marriages.

    How dare religious organisations tell the government what do to with civil marriages when civil marriages far outweighs the public choice of marriage.

  9. Nicholas Hinde says:

    The minister should not quote the sanction of the consultation. It was not a consultation on “whether” but “how”, as the minister well knows. If I think lethal injection preferable to the guillotine it does not imply my approval of capital punishment.

  10. Rosemary says:

    I think that some of you are a little misled here – those of us who object to the re-definition of marriage are not necessarily associated with any religious body.

    However, it is a fact that religions – C of E, Catholic, Muslim, etc. want to protect the ancient social institution of marriage. Whether or not it is “ordained by God” is questionable, depending on your individual belief. What is clear is that the protection of the institution as it is benefits all of us, and especially children, so my respect goes to those religious bodies who are defending marriage. They do so for me, and for you, as well as for their own community.

    Quite honestly, to me it doesn’t matter that most people get married in a register office, or on the beach, or in a hotel – the importance is that one man and one woman place on record that they commit themselves to each other, for the benefit of any children they may have.

    An “equal” marriage, to me, is the union of one man and one woman. Where this union results in children (and a homosexual union can’t!) those children have the benefit of being brought up with both biological parents. We should be encouraging marriage, in its current form, not changing it to dilute its purpose.

  11. Chris McCormick says:

    @ Rosemary: You will have to forgive me, given that most of the people that object to gay marriage, and that most of the objections given tend to be of a religious nature, I do tend to assume that most of the people objecting are of a religious type. This is particularly the case when they mention god(s) or morality somewhere in there conversation.

    Whilst I don’t really have a great deal of time for religion I do respect a person’s right to hold a particular belief. I also happen to support a church or religious body’s right to act as their doctrine guides them. So, in other words, I am perfectly happy for a religious body to refuse a religious marriage ceremony to someone based on their particular doctrine. I do not, however, support the state basing discriminatory laws on those same doctrines.

    If the state wants to discriminate against a particular group of people then they need to justify that discrimination, and they need to do so for rational political reasons.

    Whilst it is great that you are engaging in conversation here, you still aren’t actually providing any reasons why marriage should continue to be how you think it should. I appreciate that you believe that marriage should be the union of one man and one woman, but why must it?

    Given that one of your objections to gay marriage is that homosexuals can’t naturally have children may I presume you will also be campaigning for sterile couples, those that don’t want children and the elderly to also not be allowed to marry?

    Moreover, what is the benefit from being brought up by biological parents? Would a child not also benefit form being brought up by a loving same sex couple? Do you have any reason to believe that opposite sex couples offer an advantage over same sex couples for child rearing?

    Many of the arguments you, and others, use here were used in the various Proposition 8 cases in California. For those that don’t know, Proposition 8 was an attempt to change the Californian Constitution to remove same sex marriage from California. It was overturned in the courts. Proponents of proposition 8 tried all the usual lines, bad for society, bad for children etc. Unfortunately, they were completely, totally and utterly unable to back up any of their assertions with anything approaching rational, unbiased evidence.

    It is very easy to come out with reasons for not having gay marriage, quite probably these are reasons you have heard elsewhere and are merely repeating, but the fact of the matter is none of them stand up to any kind of rational scrutiny. They are very appealing to those that oppose gay marriage, possibly for reasons of bigotry, as they give the appearance of a non-bigoted justification for the continued discrimination against a group of people, and possibly for that reason those that deploy them don’t actually look too closely at them, but they are utter unsubstantiated rubbish.

    I genuinely believe that a large number of the people that are against gay marriage are good people, for the most part. I am certain that there is a proportion that are merely bigots and nothing can be said that will change their minds. But for those that are good people I really wish they would actually look at the arguments they are using. Instead of repeating arguments parrot fashion they should stop and say, “hmmm, I wonder if this is actually correct?” For example, it may seem obvious to you that the best place to raise a child is with its biological parents, but is there any reason to suppose this is true other than “common sense” or your “experience”. The answer to that is no.

    Thousands of children would be much better off not being raised by their biological parents, which is fairly obvious. The courts are full of cases where children are being removed. In addition to this, study after study has shown that children raised by same sex parents are not at any disadvantage over those raised by opposite sex couples.

    The most important factor in the raising of happy well-adjusted children is a loving household. Now, various attempts have been made by the anti-gay marriage side to convince people this is not the case, so let me nip this in the bud right now.

    The studies used by the anti-gay marriage side up to now have been studies comparing children raised by married biological parents to those raised by single parents. These studies are then presented as showing children are better off being raised by married opposite sex couples both of whom are biologically related to the children, and this is true, but, relative to single parents only. What these studies cannot do, however much anti-gay marriage people want them to, is show that same sex couples are inferior to opposite sex couples when it comes to raising children.

    If you are really interested in children and their wellbeing, then you should be supporting same sex marriage because a happy marriage is, probably, the best environment for raising children, and as such you should not be disallowing its advantages to the children of same sex couples.

  12. David White says:

    Oh, goodness, Chris McCormick are a wonderful writer! Although I’m not envious of you (in the biblical sense), it would be great to share your facility with the written word.

    You said everything that I would hve said, had I been capable, in your response to Rosemary.

    I feel so sorry for Rosemary (and her ilk). Every one of them has closed eyes, a closed mind, a closed spirit, and no Christian feelings.

    Such narrowness of heart and faith is not what Christ urged.

    ‘Fight the good fight…’, dear Chris!

    I’ll do the best I’m able to support you.

    David

    PS: Perhaps you, dear Lynne, might offer your followers some support – please!

  13. David White says:

    Sorry for another typo: ‘you, Chris McCormick, are…’

    And another: ‘have said…’

  14. Tom says:

    80,000 or more people have their marriage ceremonies abroad nowadays. Most young people (and older) who get married today can’t relate to what Rosemary has to say. Marriage is about falling in love , getting to know eachother and getting to know eachother’s families and wanting to commit to eachother by getting married. We all want a good and happy life together and most of us don’t want to get too involved in what other people’s marriages are like.

    If Rosemary and the CofE want to promote marriage then I suggest Rosemary lobby the CofE to reduce their recent 40% hike in their wedding charges.

    I don’t how the CofE have the nerve to say they want to promote marriage whilst sky rocketting their charges for marriages.

    No wonder people don’t want to do an expensive, irrelavant and deadly boring religious marriage ceremony.

  15. Nicholas Hinde says:

    The proposals create more, not less, inequality. There is no intention to make Civil Partnerships available to hetero couples or family members. The legal concepts of consummation and adultery remain for hetero couples but do not exist for ss couples.

  16. [...] Gay marriage and the season of good will by Lynne Featherstone MP on Lynne’s Parliament and Haringey Diary. “…the [...]

  17. Abingdon Neil says:

    Rosemary claims:

    “the importance is that one man and one woman place on record that they commit themselves to each other, for the benefit of any children they may have.”

    When I got married there was no mention of it being for the benefit of any future children, it was simply me and my wife committing to each other.

    There was nothing in my marriage vows that could not apply equally to a gay couple.

    Perhaps, Rosemary, you could let us know which set of marriage vows you are referring too?

  18. Diane Sparkes says:

    In an attempt to get real about this issue, and the many objections certain religious people object to same sex marriage is more about their understanding of a factor few will acknowledge.

    For so many fail to acknowledge their true objection; that it is more about sexual practice than it is about marriage. The idea that a man will have sex with another man is repugnant to many men; of less importance seems to be the case for lesbians.

    Simply put, men are not used to being treated as sexual objects, so the idea that they might become the target for such objectification is abhorrent, and demeaning to them, shameful and a challenge to their manhood.

    An odd reaction when that is exactly what men have being doing to women forever.

    Homosexuality for many men seems to create a threat to their power, their privilege, in any sexual practice one participant will usually be dominant and for some this giving up of power to another man is unthinkable, hence the reaction to the act and the word.

    Just the thought of sex with someone of the same sex creates a sick feeling, but on the other side of the coin: this same sick feeling will be experienced by the person who considers sex with someone of the opposite sex.

    The objection to gay marriage would appear to be more about sexual practice than anything else, religious people a quick to respond to the wrongness of the homosexual act and the only way it is possible, that it is against God’s will.
    Yet seldom if ever do they stop to think that this practice for many men becomes a very desirable sexual act with a woman.

    I don’t think I need to spell it out, but perhaps I do, A*** intercourse is strictly a no no! Yet it happens consistently in opposite sex relationships.
    In fact statistics suggest this practice applies on a regular basis to at least ten percent of the population.
    Not surprisingly this assault on a woman is expected as normal, even if the woman objects.

    Sodomy if it happens with a man, but OK with a woman!
    Sorry I do not get it.

    Do these religious people have double standards or what!

  19. Tony Sargeant says:

    I would just like to all the debating contributors a Happy New Year. May 2013 become a year when two people who love each other can get married. Married without any obligation to produce children. Marriage where the only rule is that they love each other. Marriage where the only expectations they are expect to meet are their own. Happy New year everyone.

  20. Rosemary says:

    I hope, during the course of 2013, that we will all acknowledge and recognise that marriage is not just about the union of two people, and any change to its meaning and purpose will affect everyone.

    It exists for the benefit of the two people concerned, for the benefit of any children who may be produced as a result of the union, and for the benefit of our wider families and communities. I would love to see more marriages in the future, less commercialisation of the whole thing, fewer marriage breakdowns, and more support from the government for married couples and families.

    I would also like to see equality for people for whom marriage is not an option, but I would like everyone to understand that other kinds of unions don’t have to be termed marriage to make them meaningful. I would like everyone to understand that marriage really is about the union of a man and a woman, without having them get upset that they cannot “get married”, as such. I would like us all to see that other forms of union are just as valid, and I would like to make sure that homosexuals get all the same legal protection and rights that they would if they were a heterosexual couple.

    It seems that the term civil partnership is not acceptable to some of you, so I’m happy for you to call it something else, and even to have words said at your ceremony, rather than just signing a piece of paper. I’m happy to be different from you, but equal. I do feel we need differentiation as well as equality, so it makes sense to me to call the two types of relationship by different names.

    It is really important to acknowledge all this, and to accept that there are things that we cannot change about either form of union. Heterosexuals risk producing children directly through their sexuality, so that’s why marriage, ultimately, exists – for the benefit of those children, who, usually, end up being brought up by their mum and dad. This does make the union different – I am sorry if you really disagree with me, but it is fundamental, and it makes marriage distinct from a same sex union.

    I hope that we will be able to come to some agreement on this, to suit all parties.

    I see many comments above asking what “Rosemary” thinks of this, or that angle of the issue, because Rosemary has stepped out from the crowd and has been a bit vocal. Ultimately, I don’t think that what Rosemary thinks will carry much weight – but what I would urge you all to do is to find out what your friends/neighbours/colleagues/every man or woman in the street thinks the solution is.

    I think there has been a huge amount of hype and propaganda from those promoting same sex marriage, and very little love coming from the same sex side towards the millions of people who might not agree with them. I think that one of the big messages about marriage that can be spread to everyone is that marriage is about families – we’re all part of the same one, ultimately, so when one part gets hurt we all do.

    I have seen many fierce accusations and derisions on both sides in media blogs and comments. There are clearly some very forceful views out there, on religion and on homosexuality. We cannot force either side to accept something they cannot, for reasons of culture, tradition, or whatever, so this is going to continue to be an emotive discussion.

    Thank you, Lynne, for creating a relatively civilised forum on your blog, where the various angles of this can be expressed. Please be aware, though, that you only see a very small sample here, or in any of the polls or surveys done so far. There is a huge, silent majority out there whose views you do not know – and I think they deserve their say on this.

    It is not acceptable to bulldoze the proposal through Parliament, as marriage is a core institution for society. Redefining it does affect everyone, and we must be so very careful not to dilute its meaning. I would urge you to listen with humble hearts to the other side of the story – including the religious leaders, please, as their messages don’t deserve to be mocked and discounted.

    I think that we will ultimately have to agree to disagree on many points, but I do wish you, one and all, a very Happy, and more enlightened New Year.

  21. [...] Cliccando qui trovate il post originale sul Blog della Ministra.  [...]

  22. Chris McCormick says:

    Rosemary, you have, yet again, chosen not to engage with a single point that has been raised to counter your position. This is unsurprising because, at the end of the day, you have nothing to say. The anti-same sex marriage brigade has no rational, justifiable political reasons for denying marriage to same sex couples. As a result debates, if they could be called that, seem to involve people like yourself sticking your fingers in your ears and repeating the same tired non-argument over and over again as if, somehow, they improve or gain credibility with repetition. They don’t.

    You mention how same sex marriage will damage marriage or even society, and even though you have been asked several times to provide details as to just how this would be the case, you seem to be unable or unwilling to. So again, repeating something over and over again without actually providing any credible grounding for your claim is pretty useless.

    As for the same but different argument; a couple of people here, myself included, have tried to explain how this is not good enough. Once more, briefly, by having two terms, marriage and civil partnership for example, with both things being legally identical, implies that the state believes there to be a difference. This inevitably leads to one being viewed as “better” than the other. And, again inevitably, this will lead to the idea that those that can’t have marriage are somehow inferior and that this opinion is endorsed by the state.

    Whilst people believe that people who happen to be gay are inferior, perhaps because their particular beliefs inform them that gays are nasty sinners and god does not approve of their lifestyle or even their existence, then it simply won’t be possible for other forms of union to be recognised as valid.

    This is the ironic thing about the same sex marriage debate; it is actually the anti-same sex side that is, by their attitude towards gay people, making same sex marriage something that will have to happen. The state has no interest in non-rationally justified discrimination, that is the purview of the religious. The state has a responsibility to all its citizens.

    Again, you appear to be arguing for restricting marriage to those that can reproduce. Do you suggest that women who have passed the menopause and people who are otherwise sterile should not be allowed to marry? Fertility tests before marriage license perhaps?

    This whole idea that you put forward, as others of your particular out look also do, that marriage is about raising kids so they have a mum and dad, who decided that? Why can that not change? It change when we decided that people of different races could marry… Does it not concern you in the slightest that you and those of your persuasion are deploying the same arguments as those that though a black man should not be allowed to marry a white woman? Does it not bother you that in a few decades people will look back at you and your feeble arguments against same sex marriage and find you indistinguishable form the Klu Klux Klan? That woukd certainly make me thing long and hard about my position.
    We won’t come to an agreement on this, for the simple reason that you can’t or won’t actually provide any rational reason why we should come over to your side.

    Out of my circle of friends there are only a couple who oppose same sex marriage, a very small percentage, and their objection is religiously motivated. Poll after poll has shown that this country, and many other developed countries believe it is time for the discrimination against same sex couples to stop.

    Marriage may well be about families, but why do you, in particular, get to decide what a family is? There are tens of thousands of same sex families in the world. Raising kids and not doing a bad job of it. Do you realise how hurtful and nasty it is when you, not necessarily you personally but certainly those of a similar view to you, tell them they are inferior to opposite sex couples?

    Personally I could understand why there may be little love coming from form the same sex side to those that don’t agree with them. It is difficult to have love for someone that tells you that you are a sinner, or inferior, or not fit to raise children or that you are going to hell. That said, I am not quite sure what you mean by this point… You do realise that no one will be forced to marry someone of the same sex don’t you?

    What we can’t do, as a society, is force a particular doctrine on someone that they don’t believe. So, for example, do you think it would be appropriate for a woman to be stoned to death for adultery? Some people are informed by their religious belief that this is correct, is that good enough for them to push this onto an entire society made up of many differing beliefs? What about if the government banned contraception and used Roman Catholic doctrine as justification. Do you think that would be acceptable?

    As I have said many times here, if the government want to discriminate they need to come up with good, rational political reasons that reasonable people can understand and might accept. If a law is based on a particular moral outlook, perhaps informed by the particular religious belief, then a person that does not share that religious belief can reasonably reject that justification.

    That is your problem here. You don’t have any reasonable reasons for not allowing same sex marriage. As a result the people you are trying to continue to discriminate against and perfectly reasonably say “no, we don’t accept that.” And that is the way it should be.

    Do you know how polls are carried out? Do you think they perhaps rock up outside a gay bar and start asking people what they think about gay marriage? They people are professionals that work very hard to use a sample that is representative of the population as a whole. It is perfectly reasonably to believe the results of the numerous polls are representative of the population at large. I’m sorry to have to break this to you but there is no silent majority against same sex marriage. There is a small minority, which is thankfully getting even smaller, and whilst they are quite vocal, they are losing.

    Again, can you please explain how same sex marriage effects everyone?

  23. Rosemary says:

    A couple of points I’d like to comment on:
    “Again, can you please explain how same sex marriage effects everyone?” It affects us all, because it belittles its primary purpose. Please see my previous posts on this, or choose not to hear me – that’s up to you.

    You are quite right that you cannot force a particular doctrine on someone that they don’t believe – which is precisely what you are trying to do to me.

    I have no political reasons for denying marriage to anyone – and neither do I see any political reason to redefine marriage.

    I do not hold the view that civil partnership is inferior to marriage, and if other people make you feel that way, then of course that’s something that needs to be put right.

    We all deserve to be treated with respect, and not to be attacked for our deeply held belief, and our culture or way of life. That’s a freedom that I will defend – which is what brought me to try and debate with you in a respectful way. I hope I have done that, and apologise to you if there is anything that I have said that has offended you.

    “This whole idea that you put forward, as others of your particular out look also do, that marriage is about raising kids so they have a mum and dad, who decided that? Why can that not change?” I wouldn’t like to say how old the institution of marriage is – but it is logical that the purpose for it was for the benefit of children, based initially on the biological need for every child to have a mum and dad. I’ve not seen any credible reason from anyone yet to convince me that there is any reason to change it. I don’t think it makes a difference that some people marry but don’t have children. That’s not a reason to extend the institution.

    I don’t accept the polls, no. Those that are carried out using CATI, like the Ipsos/MORI poll, are worthless, since most of us won’t answer calls like those, so the response is very low anyway. The Guardian poll has to be discounted because there were no safeguards to ensure that only UK residents were responding. Others, likewise, including the government’s consultation. I responded to that, and there was no requirement to prove my citizenship, and nothing preventing me or others from submitting multiple responses.

    The Coalition for Marriage has so far 624,392 signatures from UK citizens, so at the moment I am more inclined to believe that as an indication of the strength of concern about the implications of this proposed change.

    We each mix in different groups of people – from what you tell me your friends/family/acquaintances are mostly in favour of redefining marriage. I see the opposite response from the people I mix with. Hardly anyone is in favour of the change. A few are what you would term as homophobic, but most just want to defend marriage as it is, and to ensure that there are equal legal rights for everyone. This is why I would say – don’t rely on my voice, or your own – ask the people.

    Well, guys, I have said my bit, and I cannot spend any more of my time with you, unfortunately, as 2013’s work is beckoning. Thank you for your time, and I do wish you peace and happiness.

  24. Tom says:

    I think the govt have got the balance right with same sex marriage. No-one is being forced to change what they think marriage is all about. Rosemary, who may or may not be religious, will still be allowed to think that marriages are between men and women and that their sole purpose is for producing children. That’s fine under the govt’s change. However, the govt has rightly recognised that these rather woolly, weak and untrue arguments are not valid reasons to stop gay people getting married. After alll it has never been a legal requirement to have children if you get married and many children have always been born outside of marriage. Surrogation is legal and so is IVF and not to mention the ‘turkey baster’. Gay people are allowed to adopt. Gay people have children from previous relationships. Rosemary’s world doesn’t seem like the 21st century. If the govt thins that marriage is good for straight people and particulary good for couples with children then in the UK that must include gay couples.

    My prediction is that in 5 , 10 or 20 years time even people like Rosemary will be calling us married.

  25. Deano says:

    & a Happy New Year to you too Rosemary, and to all your colleagues there in the C4M HQ (or is it Anglican Mainstream/Christian Institute/Christian Concern/ Christian Voice/ Evangelical Alliance/Marriage Foundation/Lambeth Palace/Vatican ….. goodness, when you start to list them, there must be nearly 624,392 ‘organisations’ all dedicated to undermining same sex relationships.

  26. Chris McCormick says:

    @ Rosemary: How does same sex marriage belittle what you have decided is the primary purpose of marriage? Can you please point to where it says that the primary purpose of marriage is anything other than the joining of two people to love each other? You can’t unilaterally decide what the primary purpose of something is simply so you can then declare that someone or something offends that purpose so you can deny them a particular right.

    No, no one is trying to force a doctrine on you. You are completely missing the point. You are trying to force your doctrine on the country, including those that don’t follow your particular doctrine. Those that support same sex aren’t doing so for doctrinal reasons.

    There are political reasons for allowing same sex marriage. The state has a responsibility to remove discrimination. Where there is discrimination the state should work to remove it, unless it can be justified for political reasons. Removal of discrimination is a valid political reason. Not allowing same sex couples to get married is discrimination. Ergo, the state should allow same sex marriage and it has the political justification for doing so. You have already admitted that there is no political reason for not allowing same sex marriage, so I am sure you can now see why the state should allow same sex marriage.

    Whilst you say you do not hold civil marriage to be inferior, (something am not sure I believe) there are plenty of people that do. Even if people did not, the fact remains that the state, by keeping marriage for opposite sex couples, is saying that same sex couples are somehow less worthy.

    Being gay is not a deeply held belief or culture. It could be argued that it is a way of life, but even then it is a way of live merely because that is how the person is. Please don’t try the whole “being gay is a choice” routine. Furthermore, you have a right to hold a particular religious belief. You have no right to be respected for that. Your right to hold a particular religious belief stops when that belief begins to impact someone else’s right.

    There have been plenty of cases recently that show this. Your right to hold a belief is protected, but the individual “features” of that belief may not be protected. So, you can, for example, believe that homosexuality is frowned upon by god, the law allows you to believe that. But if you are employed as a registrar the law will not allow you to refuse to officiate for civil partnerships.

    You have not offended me. I am not gay and my only interest in same sex marriage is that I hate baseless discrimination. It saddens me when I come across people like you, I have such optimism for humanity but it takes a beating when I read attitudes such as yours.

    I can’t tell you how old the institution of marriage is, but I can tell you it is a lot older than Christianity or Islam or even Judaism. There is nothing logical about it being for the benefit of children. Children can be had without marriage, I have four but I am not married. My sexual organs, and those of my partner appear to work just fine without being married.
    Any logic your argument may have had, and I don’t think it really had any, get destroyed when you say “I don’t think it makes a difference that some people marry but don’t have children.” If you think that is a the case then why can’t those people that marry but don’t have children be a same sex couple? You are adding a further level of discrimination. You are now saying that marriage is for opposite sex couples only. You justify this restriction by deciding, without any actual justification, that marriage is primarily about having children. You use this as a reason for dis-allowing same sex couple from being married, but then you say that married people don’t have to have children.

    So, in summary, same sex couples can’t get married because they can’t naturally have children but opposite sex couples, even where they can’t or won’t have children can still get married. Can you not see the inconsistency in this argument? Like most, if not all, of the arguments deployed by the anti-same sex marriage crowd this appears to be merely a weak attempt to couch pure bigotry in nice words to hide the fact that it is simply pure bigotry.

    I do like the way you have dismissed an entire industry. Have you actually looked at any of the polls? I don’t mean read the headlines in the papers, but actually go to the polling company’s website and download the poll data? Perhaps you won’t answer the phone or take part, but other people do. And as long as the sample is representative, that is representative of the country not your particular view, then there is a pretty good chance it will be accurate.

    Your coalition for marriage petition represents about 1% of the population. The polls put the anti-same sex marriage side lagging behind by about 40%. Even if the poll was badly wrong I still think you are on a hiding to nothing.

    I wonder, Rosemary, do any of the people you mix with have any other similarities… Go to the same church perhaps…

  27. Thanks everyone for a pretty civilised discussion – especially Rosemary and Chris.

  28. Bart Smith says:

    Lynne

    Please vote for same sex marriage next Tuesday

    Bart Smith

  29. Diane Sparkes says:

    Lynne, please keep up the good work you started, vote yes, yes, yes.

    Being married and Transgender I am counting on you for my rights for legal recognition of my new gender. And thank you.

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