Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Lana Murphy (MB 134)

Dear Lords, Members of Parliament, and members of the public.

1. I am writing to you to express my passionate feelings on the topic of the debate of ‘Marriage (same sex couples) Bill’. My opinions are based mainly around equality meaning equality, and also stem into my individual interpretations of my Christian beliefs.

2. Firstly, and in my opinion, most importantly, being able to marry is a human right; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." I read this to mean men and women can enter a marriage, not strictly meaning only ‘a’ man and ‘a’ woman; therefore it is surely a human right for LGBT to enter same sex marriages if they so desire?

3. We live in a country that is proud to call its self one of Equality – passing acts such as Equality Act 2006Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations and Equality Act 2010. However I put to you that this is disingenuous front; our society accepts that it is wrong, unlawful in fact, to discriminate against gender, age, race, religious beliefs, disability and sexual orientations; however, should a person express a negative opinion against a person from a different race or religion they are branded ‘racist’ and prosecuted, a negative opinion against gender and they are branded ‘sexist’ and prosecuted. Then why is it still acceptable for negative opinions about sexual orientation, and their lifestyle (including but not limited to, their right to gay marriage), be deemed as ‘traditional views’ and acceptable? Why don’t the acts passed by Parliament protect people with differing sexual orientations like it does for people with other ‘protected characteristics’?

4. On the issue of Religion being an argument against same sex Marriage; I would like it to be acknowledged that there are many gay people of faith; myself included. Being a Christian I was saddened that I could not make my vows to my ‘wife’ (civil partner) in the presence of my God. However, I still intend to raise our daughter in the Christian faith, and we had her Christened on her first birthday, by an accepting village church in front of nearly 90 of our closest family and friends.

A common argument against gay marriage is that it is against Christian Faith, and religious traditions, to this I say that the bible is a collection of very old testaments, and that there are many other sins which are written in the Bible yet clearly lived and accepted in today’s society, four of many are included below:

Mark 10:9 reads, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Leviticus 19:19 reads "...nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together."

 Leviticus 11:10 states that we cannot eat shellfish, pig, camel, rabbit and ostrich.

Leviticus 25:44-46 reads "However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance."

My interpretation of the Bible’s teachings is for marriage to build a family and a stable upbringing for that family. I believe that God loves all of his children; he gave us free will, and the ability to evolve. I believe that God created me – who are we to say that his creations are wrong?

5. While watching the debate on same sex marriage in the House of Commons, I heard the argument that marriage is for the purpose of creating a family. Is this saying that people who are infertile should not marry? I on the other hand have a daughter, who is listed on her birth certificate as having two mothers – does that mean I now ‘qualify’ for marriage as my relationship has resulted in a family? Another MP’s argument against gay marriage is that no one knew the effects on children who were raised by gay couples; that society knows that children need both male and female role models in their life to grow up a balanced individual. I think that this is a very short-sighted opinion – do people of this view not recognise that even though my daughter has two mothers, she has uncles, grandparents and other male family friends in her life to provide that role model?

6. Regarding the topic of prosecutions for those who are unwilling to perform same sex marriage; I accept that not all priests and other members of the religious clergy will want to perform marriages for same sex couples, and agree that they should have the right not to be prosecuted – I have this opinion as I know that there are ministers who are more than happy to perform these ceremonies of love and dedication, and same sex couples can approach these churches instead. However, I do feel that anyone performing marriages outside of religious establishments should not have the right to refuse a same sex couple the right to marriage, in the same way they would not be allowed to discriminate against any of the other ‘protected characteristics’.

7. It is becoming a raising concern that teachers will be sacked for refusing to teach about LGBT families or for sharing their negative views against this topic. To this I say – surely this is only just? We live in a country where our schools teach of other religions, and where acceptance for people’s individualisms is encouraged. Therefore I do not understand why anyone who is deemed as a respected member of society, such as MP’s, doctors, teachers etc, should have the right to speak negatively of LGBT – surely it should be taught like any other cultural difference we already celebrate in the United Kingdom. Families have already evolved from the traditional ‘man and wife with 2.4 children’; in today’s society we see multiracial families, blended families, step families, single parent families; these are all accepted as being a ‘normal’ part of our country’s life, and this is why I abhor the idea of a teacher, or anyone else, telling my daughter that her family is wrong in any way; please ensure that she is protected from such ignorance.

8. My answer to people’s claims that children from same sex couples will not be well balanced, successful individuals, would be to simply research ‘Zach Wahls’. Zach has published a book entitled ‘My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family’ and has made very poignant testimony to the Iowa Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage, both detail how having two mums doesn’t hinder a child in any way – because he is a living example of a successful product of a same-sex family.

9. Another frequent statement that is heard when discussing same-sex marriage is that ‘Same-sex marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage’. To me this is laughable. Surely the things that destroy the sanctity of marriage are divorce, adultery, marriages that last as little as two days (such as the celebrity ‘marriage’ between Britney Spears and Jason Alexander) and multiple divorces and remarriages. According to ONS 42% of marriages end in divorce (ref.1), while by the end of 2011 only 2.2% of male and 4.6% of female civil partnerships had ended in dissolution (ref.2). Take what you wish from these figures.

10. I would like to share some compelling, wise words from the Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has written to the Mail on Sunday saying: "It's wrong to say that because of how you love and who you love, you are not entitled to the same rights as others. It's wrong because inequality is wrong...Marriage is not undermined by extending it to gay people - it is reinforced by including everyone equally." (ref.3)

11. I am sure you will receive many letters opposing the legalisation of same-sex marriage, however I hope that the leaders of our modern, non-discriminating country will be able to see this as a positive revolution in our society; being mindful that it was only changes to laws that ended segregations such as apartheid. Change might be daunting at first, but absolutely necessary. At a time when hate and war are rife, let’s promote equal rights to love.

March 2013

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Prepared 13th March 2013