Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Cornwall's Community Standards Association

(MB 116)

By Miss Ann Whitaker, M.A.(Oxon.), Hon. Secretary of Cornwall's Community Standards Association

About Cornwall's Community Standards Association

Cornwall's Community Standards Association was founded in 1974 because of the serious concerns expressed by Christian individuals and groups in the county about the nation's slide in moral and spiritual standards. We saw the need to stand up for right and oppose evil, warning of the prospect of spoilt lives, family breakdown and poverty. We are a gathering of like-minded people from across Cornwall and we meet together every two months. Over the years we have consistently and constantly provided MP's, members of the House of Lords, local council representatives and others in responsible positions in our nation with informed research material and expressed our convictions.

Changing the definition of "marriage"

1. Marriage is at the foundation of our society and no improvement to the definition of it has been found. Any change to the definition of marriage will have a far-reaching impact on society. The tried current definition of marriage in English Law is: "The voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others."

2. To argue a departure from this model and to establish it in law is to protect the less good and to encourage it.

3. Law-makers are surely responsible for upholding the good of society as a whole as a first consideration, but the present initiative is that of a tiny minority of a small minority, whether in Europe or the United Kingdom.

4. "Love" alone is not enough to describe marriage.

No mandate for a change in the law

5. At the time of the civil partnership legislation we were given an undertaking that this measure would not lead to marriage for same-sex couples.

6. Following deliberations in the Council of Europe in March 2010, ministers from 47 countries proposed that where national legislation recognised same-sex partnerships, these should be given the same legal status as those between heterosexuals. Marriage was not suggested at this point, but four days before the 2010 general election, the Tory party published a pamphlet which included the promise that the party would "consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage". But, as Christopher Booker points out (The Telegraph, 09/02/13), this was not in the manifesto, nor, after the election, in the Coalition Agreement.

7. It would seem to us that government ministers have been working "behind closed doors" in both the Council of Europe and at Westminster, to push forward the concept of marriage for same-sex couples and to legislate for it in the UK.

8. The proposal is entirely unacceptable considering the unprecedented scale of the change which it will produce, not in relation to a few but to our entire society and that of the future. Already and inevitably the unreality of the attempt to "redefine" is occurring in the use of the terms "same-sex marriage" and "traditional marriage" when discussing the Bill.

9. We submit that our fundamental democratic rights have been violated and the proposal to introduce "marriage" for same-sex couples should therefore not go forward until and unless the electorate has been properly consulted on all the issues, and the far-reaching implications of a change in the law have been exposed and publicly debated. The government should then follow the consensus of the country as a whole.

Confusion between the words "equal" and "same"

10. There is confusion as between the words "equal" and "same". It is a well-established social ambition that people be regarded and treated as equal before God and the law of the land. However, we are not all the same and justice with compassion seeks that we should be seen as individuals with many differences. Legislation should ensure that these differences are safeguarded.

The family, children and their upbringing

11. The removal of such words as "husband" and "wife", or the use of these words in relation to either gender, will inevitably undermine what has been regarded as foundational to family life and values.

12. Altering the established definition of marriage will erase the terms "father" and "mother". These terms have fundamental connotations in secure and loving family relationships. There will be an explosive chain reaction!

The wrong message to children

13. As an organisation we have spent much of our time opposing the teenage pregnancy strategy, which was supposed to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and has failed miserably. We have represented parents over the content of undesirable sex education material and teaching in some of our schools. We have campaigned for parents to know when a child of theirs is considering an abortion. We have now had sight of the explicit books available to primary school children which promote and attempt to normalise same-sex relationships.

14. Parents are being seriously side-lined and often kept in ignorance of what is being taught in this important realm of sex and relationship education.

15. Whilst the government are purporting to be dealing with child abuse, they are at the same time bringing about the early sexualisation of children through explicit teaching material at an inappropriate age.

Some inevitable consequences of a change in the law

16. Marriage as we have always known it, between one man and one woman, will no longer hold a distinctive and distinguished position in law. Those marrying with the future prospect of raising their own children - and with all the responsibilities which then go with parenthood - will have the same status in law as a same-sex couple with no intention of rearing children. In redefining marriage we are creating two unequal unions. Those who are bringing up children will necessarily be financially disadvantaged by comparison with those in a same-sex marriage.

17. The concept of the family and family life, including the extended family of grandparents and other relations, will be weakened by a change in the law, instead of cherished and nurtured as the mainstay of our national life.

18. We have studied the repercussions of the legislation as introduced in Sweden and elsewhere. Research has shown that the number of marriages has declined in these countries. The status of marriage has been undermined and is no longer seen as "special".

19. We have no confidence in the "quadruple lock" and the undertakings given by the government that there will be no prosecutions of individuals or churches who refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.

20. The whole issue of the marriage of same-sex couples is deeply divisive in our society and not least in the churches. What happens to the minister who does not agree with same-sex marriage, when most of his congregation have a different opinion? And vice-versa?

21. There are also deep divisions over this issue within some families and amongst friends. Even here, in our experience, individuals are holding back from expressing their views. In the public place we know that people are fearful of declaring their beliefs. This is because members of the LGBT lobby can be venomous in their opposition.

22. A church which uses school premises for its Sunday meetings may now be forbidden to do so by the local authority, because of its stance on homosexual practice and, more particularly, same-sex marriage. (This is a concern which has been brought to our attention very recently with regard to a church in Cornwall.)

23. Those unable to agree that homosexual practice is right have been forced from their professions. How much more so may this be if the proposed legislation is enacted? What will happen to the teacher who is not willing to promote the "normality" of same-sex marriage?

24. The attempt to advertise publicly sexual practice of any kind is not the habit of this country. Imagine the school setting as Mrs Amy and Mrs Angela Blog collect their adopted (or surrogate) children from school. Are the young expected not to display at least surprise and, being young, laughter? Are they to be punished for so doing? Will a "snigger" go down on their records, which will stay with them throughout their school life and perhaps be available to a future employer?

25. Already other countries are now legalising polygamy. Is that really the road to be taken by our government, and that without consultation with its people? Sexual practices of an unmentionable kind lie that way, for there are advocates of same-sex marriage who believe that there should be no limit to sexual expression of any kind.

26. Any promotion of homosexuality - whether in the school, youth club or by acceptance of "gay marriage" - will inevitably increase the practice and thereby the number of cases of sexually transmitted infections and AIDS. The financial burden will fall on the NHS.

Delegated powers

27. We are concerned at the intention to delegate powers to the Secretary of State and the Lord Chancellor to alter legislation.

Summary

28. The natural family consisting of a father and mother and children, together with their extended family, is the mainstay of our national life. This is the model to be retained and not undermined and weakened.

29. When homosexual practice was made legal there were those who advised most strongly against further social promotion. At the passing of civil partnership legislation we were given to understand that civil marriage was not intended as the next progression. It is distressing that this understanding has been ignored and that there are those determined to assert their will, in spite of the general public's concern for so many other social problems to be addressed at this time.

30. There is an element of juvenile selfishness about this Bill. Its measures should never be contemplated in a country which has benefitted by the teaching of the Bible for centuries.

31. The accepted definition of marriage in English Law is: "The voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others".

March 2013

Prepared 13th March 2013