Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Adrian Nance (MB 130)

LETTER TO THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE CONSIDERING THE MARRIAGE (S AME S EX C OUPLES ) BILL 2012-13

1. I write most respectfully to assist in your deliberations on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-2013. This submission has not been previously published or circulated elsewhere.

2. You ask for a brief introduction. I write as a married person and as committed Christian who is a member of a parish of the Church of England and as a result I have a special interests. However, I write as a private individual. I am a retired member of the military forces of the Crown and holder of an award for operational service from Her Majesty. I am not a homophobe.

Summary

3. The purpose of this submission is to ensure that religious and civic marriages retain their established and respected distinctions in the current Bill, in particular to propose:

(1) That the definitions in the Bill make clear the already established differences between civic and religious marriage; and that the words ‘civic marriage’ and ‘religious marriage’ are used in the Bill when referring solely to marriages of one sort (trusting that all marriages should be ‘civil’);

(2) That religious marriage is subject to spiritual guidance and should be subject inter alia to Parliament’s agreed governance of the Church of England (in 1919 and the agreed amendment in 1969 that has received Royal Assent). Parliament should not override these mechanisms but use them to encourage religious debate on religious marriage;

(3) That it is made clear that in agreeing civic marriage for same sex couples the restrictions on marriage between parents and their children or siblings should be maintained;

(4) That the Bill highlights other Acts of Parliament that need amendment if it is enacted.

For easy reference, the remainder of this submission is in Sections numbered as the sub paragraphs above.

DETAIL

Section One – Precedent

4. In the detail, Parliament has established a precedent for marriages by allowing them to be conducted in places of religious worship or in the registry offices. So there is an identity for religious marriage and an identity for civic marriage; identities that are respected by all. I am not anti-gay or anti gay civic marriage: This submission is about this current Bill’s impact on religious marriage, and specifically Christian marriage, so the Bill needs to be very clear.

Conclusion One - It should be very clear where the Bill encompasses all marriage, and where it refers just to civic marriage or to religious marriage

Section Two – Religious Marriage has significance and review should use Religious Governance in the UK

5. On religious marriage our Christian Bible makes multiple references to marriage. Two are perhaps most pertinent:

a. Jesus in a reading in his synagogue quoted from Isaiah Chapter 61 and He said that today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing (as quoted in the Gospel of St Luke). Later in that key Chapter for His ministry it says this:

For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10. This passage indicates that Christian marriages are solely between a male bridegroom and a female bride, and the passage was seen as important by our Saviour, who encouraged us to love our neighbour.

b. Later and from a solely Christian perspective religious marriage was considered of sufficient importance for St Paul to legislate that in 1st century culture a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife , 1 Timothy 3:2. So the Holy Scriptures make strong points about marriage. Consequently, to me (and perhaps many others) marriage is a spiritual issue.

6. Also my own tradition, the Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony makes the following points:

· That marriage signifies the mystic union between Christ and His Church – endowing the marriage ceremony with huge spiritual significance in accordance with the Holy Scriptures;

· That marriage was not intended to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites – pointing to the restraint of men from seeing marriage as just a licence for sex, unlike some press statements, and

· That First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name. Pointing to marriage being between a man and a woman.

7. Parliament approved the governance of the Church of England in the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act of 1919, which has since been amended by the General Synod which was set up under the Synodical Government Measure (CAM No 2 1969) which received Royal Assent on 25 July 1969. Under these arrangements it seems that oversight of the spiritual aspects of the Church of England has been passed to the General Synod over whose Measures Parliament exercises oversight and the Sovereign has final authority.

8. Whilst we as a church community may wrestle with current issues, these debates are not held in Parliament but in the General Synod, where the Scriptures, reason and the traditions of the Church imply the governance of Christian marriage in the Church of England should also be conducted.

9. I also ask the Committee to consider the reported comment of a senior Roman Catholic Cleric that Christian marriage involves 3 people, the two taking vows and God, and God gets a vote.

Conclusion Two – Parliament should use methods it established for reviewing religious marriage

Section Three - Both civic and religious marriage have limitations imposed upon them

10. In order to avoid being stylised as a bigot for disagreeing with the media, I perhaps need to state that I fully accept the rights of Parliament to legislate and to establish laws that remove discrimination against people of any race colour creed or sexual orientation, and I am delighted when Members of my Parliament act in the spirit of Christ’s injunction to love your neighbour as yourself.

11. However, Parliament has established limits on marriage of both sorts – religious and civic. For example, mothers may not marry their sons, daughters may not marry their uncles etc and polygamy is not allowed; all such marriages are considered unlawful by Parliament. It seems to me that the whole UK community agrees with this.

12. I submit religious marriage between consenting homosexuals should be subject to similar exclusions, such as not being allowed between parent and child, or between siblings and perhaps other combinations, to avoid creating pressures on religious marriage that have significant genetic consequences.

Conclusion Three – current marriage has limitations on its participants and same sex marriage should have similar restrictions

Section Four - Impact on other laws

13. I also submit that the Bill should identify such amendments that will be needed to other Acts of Parliament so that the full impact of what is being proposed may be seen by us your electorate.

Conclusion Four – that the Bill should highlight its impact on other laws

In closing

14. I write as a voter in this country, and not as a constitutional scholar or ecclesiastical expert. I am a believer in the principle of government ‘by the people for the people’. As individual members of the Committee, you have already have made judgments as to whether the Bill under discussion exceeds any mandate granted you as our Parliamentarians, in that this proposal did not appear in a manifesto, nor in the Coalition agreement nor in the Queen’s Speech of this Parliament. Thus the next stages of the Bill attract great interest not just in how our society is made inclusive but also in showing how Members of this Parliament intend relate to their electorates in the future.

March 2013

Prepared 13th March 2013