Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Keith Dilliway (MB 62)

Thank you for asking for submissions for the above Bill and I am writing as an individual who has been married for over 30 years. I am also drafting this as a primary school teacher who has a special personal interest in encouraging and promoting the traditional view of marriage .

M arriage in my opinion should not be redefined to include same sex couples. Civil partnerships already have existing rights and responsibilities so therefore this Bill is unnecessary and does little more than re-badge partnerships as marriage

I believe that the following matters should be taken into account by the Public Bill Committee in its detailed examination of the Bill:

1.1. The unique capacity of a marriage of man and woman is to generate children. This unique capacity has long been the reason for the state to support marriage. There are distinct advantages to the welfare of society and its individuals for children to be raised by their natural parents.

1.2. Children need both maternal and paternal influences in their homes.

1.3. "The belief that this form of relationship is the one which best encourages stability in a well regulated society is not a disreputable or outmoded notion based upon ideas of exclusivity, marginalisation, disapproval or discrimination against homosexuals or any other persons who by reason of their sexual orientation or for other reasons prefer to form a same-sex union." (Quoting Sir Mark Potter, July 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Potter_(judge)

1.4. Civil partnerships have the potential of being just as economically secure and strong in relationship as marriage. "In 2004, in the course of the passage of the Civil Partnership Act, Parliament closely re-examined the complex problems involved if recognition were to be given to same-sex marriages. The solution which it reached was that there should be statutory recognition of a status and relationship closely modelled upon that of marriage which made available to civil partners essentially every material right and responsibility presently arising from marriage, with the exception of the form of ceremony and the actual name and status of marriage."

1.5. When Baroness Scotland introduced the second reading of the Civil Partnership Bill in the House of Lords, she said that "it is important for us to be clear that we continue to support marriage and recognise that it is the surest foundation for opposite sex couples raising children…."

2. Marriage is the bedrock of our society and should remain the union of one man with one woman for life.

3. Same-sex marriage will probably distort legal matters rather than simplify them.  Historically, UK law assumes the currently accepted definition of marriage.  As such, a marriage may end due to the unfaithfulness of either party. How can this Bill fully or practically define irretrievable break-down of a relationship, sexual union or adultery so that they apply to both same sex and heterosexual marriages?

4. The so ‘quadruple lock' to ‘protect religious organisations' may not stand up in the European Court of Human Rights. If a member state decides to allow same-sex marriage, but treats homosexual married couples differently from heterosexual married couples, it could be challenged under European human rights law.  Legal experts have questioned the strength of the Government's assurance that with proper drafting ‘the chance of a successful legal challenge through domestic or European courts is negligible'.

5. In trying to be inclusive, how will this Bill protect the rights of those who could too easily be alienated and oppressed? Whilst I favour equal rights, there is the real, potential danger that a few aggrieved individuals get rights at the expense of others who wish to express their beliefs in a simple and unthreatening manner.

5.1. What safeguards will there be for the many faith groups, both Christian and otherwise, who do not support this Bill?  What will happen to those public servants or ministers of (any) religion who will not perform marriages for same sex couples?

5.2. What about implications that a redefinition may have for employers and employees, teachers and other public servants?  What will happen to the meaning of the words husband, wife, mother, father? 

In conclusion, I believe there is no satisfactory way that this Bill can work to the overall benefit of our society. Therefore, it should be dropped.

February 2013

Prepared 27th February 2013