Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Mr & Mrs R Whitehead (MB 35)

Marriage Bill submission

A summary of what is contained in our submission is as follows :-

Paragraph 1.1 Who we are

Paragraphs 2. 1 – 2.3 B ackground – b enefits of traditional marriage

Paragraphs 3. 1 – 3. 10 Protections for individuals and organisations

Paragraph 4.1 Terminology

1.1 We are a Christian couple who have been married for 19 years. We have 3 children of primary school age.

2.1 Traditional marriage provides the most stable framework for society and has been respected by State & society for generations. If redefined it will change it for all of us, with values which have stood for generations watered down to accommodate mino rity views. We can be tolerant of the rights of others and still protect traditional marriage .

2.2 Civil Partnerships provide same-sex couples with similar legal rights to marriage, so there is no need to legislate for same-sex marriage as a matter of ‘equality’ . T he E CHR ruled governments are not required to le gislate for same-sex ‘marriage’; it is not a human right. Protection of traditional marriage & family is a legitimate reason for a difference in treatment . Equal does not mean the same.

2.3 M arriage is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman , geared towards procreation and t he best environment for raising children : a biological mother and father in complementary roles. Same-sex union s deny a child either a mother or father and should not have the same backing from the State , name or legal status.

3.1 R eligious freedom must be respected and c hurches and priests protected by law so that they are not forced to conduct these ceremonies against their conscience and the beliefs of their organisation. Churches must be allowed to practice what they believe and have control over what is acceptable on their premises.

3.2 The threat to religious freedom for individuals must be understood , taken seriously and protected so that conscience is respected.

3.3 Protection must be provided for schools so that policies continue to be decided within the ethos of the school and in consultation with parents and Governors, so that what children are being taught in school is in line with the ethos of the school.

3. 4 Parents must continue to have the right to bring their children up according to their faith and moral standards, and permission provided for them to exclude their children from any lessons which teach same-sex marriage.

3.5 It is vital that protection is provided so that teachers have the right not to be forced to teach about same-sex marriage if it is against their conscience.

3.6 Protection must be provided for those who work in other professions – eg hoteliers, counsellors, registrars , wedding photographer s, caterers , etc – whose conscience prevents them from extending their services to same-sex couples.

3.7 Protection must be provided for couples who believe in traditional marriage who wish to adopt or foster.

3.8 Protection must be provided for those who wish to have their children/grandchildren (eg if the parents have died) adopted and wish them to remain in a traditional family headed by a husband and wife.

3. 9 Protection must be provided to prevent harassment of individuals who believe in traditional marriage, as part of protecting freedom of speech.

3.10 Similar protection must be provided for clergy so that they are able to preach according to the beliefs and morals of the church.

4.1 The terms ‘husband and wife’ and ‘mother and father’ must remain, for the many couples for whom these terms are relevant and do not wish to see them changed.

February 2013

Prepared 27th February 2013