Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Kingdom Faith Churches UK (MB 119)

Kingdom Faith Churches UK is an evangelical church denomination that was begun in the late 1970's, at that time under the name Bethany Fellowship. It has grown over the years to now include over 50 churches spanning the length and breadth of England along with a Christian training centre and a week long annual event that attracts over 5000 people. There are many nationalities represented by Kingdom Faith Churches UK, the training college especially has a large mix of students from across Europe and beyond. Kingdom Faith Churches UK is currently involved in social action projects including: working with prostitutes, debt advise, child contact centre, street angels and others.

We are aware that this is a very emotive bill for many, and that some of the issues we raise are unintended consequences. However we believe there are a number of fundamental flaws within the wording and context of the bill that we would like to make comment on. This is in the bills relation to marriage and family life. There are also civil liberty issues that the bill would bring about. Also there are concerns raised as to the validity of the public consultation results and speed at which this bill has been rushed together.

(1) We made a submission to the equal marriage consultation in 2012, via the online form on the government website. It was very disappointing that it was not possible to log the name of the organisation. When the consultation results were published, a list of the organisations that responded was published. Obviously the name of this organisation was not there as it was not possible to give at the time. We presume that the list of organisations derived from them submitting their responses by other means than the government prepared method. This appears to call in to question the list of organisational contributors as there may be many other organisations that contributed by the online form.

(2) The institution of marriage pre-dates the state. If the state decides to redefine the fundamental meaning of marriage now, what is to stop future changes to allow polygamous marriages etc. There may be no current plans for further changes. But what is to stop further change once a fundamental change to the meaning of marriage has been made. This bills fundamental change proposes different meanings to marriage for a same sex couple from that of a mixed sex couple. If a different meaning is necessary are not the two different and therefore not equal ?

(3) Since same sex marriage has been legalised in Canada there has been an attempt in the courts to also legalise polygamy. It has been stated that same sex marriage has definitely given polygamy a legal boost in Canada <1>. However at this point it is still a criminal offence. However in the United Kingdom Polygamous marriages performed elsewhere are already recognized <2>. So conceivably it would be easier once same sex marriages are legal to bring a court case that would ultimately end up in legalising polygamy ans polyandry in the UK. This is also made easier by the separate definitions of marriage for same sex and mixed sex couples proposed in the bill.

(4) Also we would like to suggest there should be a further consultation of faith based organisations to get a list of those that would like to be included alongside the church of England and the church in Wales to be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages. As this does not give equal rights to all faith based organisations.

(5) All registrars should be allowed a ground to opt out of same sex marriages on the basis of conviction. This should apply to both state registrars and those of churches whose denominations have decided to allow same sex marriages.

(6) There is a clear lack of equality throughout the wording of the draft bill. We would like to take this opportunity to comment on the general lack of equality to the Christian faith of which this nation is still constitutionally Christian. Christians should not be penalised for their beliefs but in a nation that is seeking equality they should continue to be accommodated within this and future legislation. Therefore Registrars, Ministers of Religion, Teachers and those from other professions, who have a belief that is contradictory to this and other legislation, should be catered for within the scope of equality and not penalised. People should be free to live out their religious beliefs in the workplace in the same way that people are free to live out their beliefs of sexuality.

(7) Marriage is about family, there are many studies that have been carried out that show that both a man and a woman are needed as they have differing attributes that work together to raise and nurture children. When one sex is missing from the adults in a family unit the children suffer from the loss. There is no evidence to support that marriage will be strengthened by the proposed change as has been stated, the evidence from other countries that have done this is actually quite the opposite <3>. We believe that we should be looking for ways to strengthening the family unit which is the basic building block of society.

(8) There seems to be undue rushing of legislation through parliament at this time, with The Succession to the Crown Bill having missed due process. There is a reason for the various stages that ALL bills should go through to ensure that nothing is missed and to hopefully prevent unforeseen consequences. This legislation has been rushed and will result in unforeseen consequences in the coming years if it is not put through proper scrutiny before continuing its progress. Also we are very concerned that although MPs were given a free vote initially, the rest of this bill is to be whipped.

(9) Finally we are very concerned that the views of the great majority of evangelical churches in this nation have been ignored and not even questioned to the present time. That no evangelical church denomination has been called to give evidence to the committee is very concerning.

March 2013

<1> http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/20/same-sex-marriages-give-polygamy-a-legal-boost/?page=all

<2> http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/ecg/set/set14/

<3> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9908951/Gay-marriage-will-destabilise-family-life-sociologist-warns.html

Prepared 13th March 2013