Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Dr George Strang (retired consultant) (MB 71)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposal to redefine marriage and introduce same-sex marriage.

I believe that the government is proposing undemocratic, unnecessary, dangerous, divisive legislation, undermining a foundation in society, without the nation's support and should abandon completely its intention to redefine marriage and introduce same-sex marriage. It can be opposed from a Biblical point of view and in several other ways.

1. Democracy has been ignored. The government has no mandate; no mention was made in the pre-election manifestos and the government's consultation which 'received over 228,000 responses' according to its Direct Communications Unit, was flawed and has been outnumbered by the Coalition for Marriage petition which has more that 640,000 signatures and has been ignored. The government is catering for a minority of a minority for whom civil partnership exists, but the whole population will be affected if same-sex marriage becomes legal. The YouGov/Sunday Times survey sent to me by my MP, the

Right Hon. Don Foster, purports to show support for same-sex marriage, but the sample

size was 2030 adults, which included some from Scotland, but the population of England and Wales in the most recent census was 56.1 million. Scotland is being considered separately in the proposed legislation. The sample size cannot be considered to be representative.

The government would probably not have been elected if the electorate had known of its intention. Serious division in the Conservative party and its supporters has resulted and many former supporters will not vote for it again. This process has set a dangerous precedent in parliamentary procedure, because the electorate will not trust pre-election manifestos again.

2. Equality is mentioned as a reason for same-sex marriage, but certain facts, notably the ability to procreate naturally, makes same-sex relationships very different from the union of a man and a woman. Serious moral, medical and legal problems will result. There is a

difference between equality and sameness. Same-sex marriage may look equal legally, but it can never be in any other way. Many people would like to see the government attend to the inequalities that affect far more of us than inequality in marital status.

Access to and standards of health care, educational opportunities and opportunities for employment, to mention three, are much greater priorities for most of us. It is reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

3. The long term consequences of redefining marriage have not been considered adequately. The union of a man and a woman in marriage is a foundation of stability and altering it will cause increasing breakdown in society. David Cameron claims to support marriage and the family, but serious confusion will result for children, parents, teachers and ministers of religion in particular. We cannot foresee the consequences of same-sex marriage on the basis of what has happened in civil partnerships in recent years. Long term effects on society may not be apparent for many years. When abortion was legalized years ago, the current extent of its use was neither intended nor envisaged. The union of a man and a woman is the best environment in which to raise children. It would be a dangerous and unpredictable experiment in social engineering to introduce same-sex marriage.

In view of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, we cannot believe any assurances given by the government that freedom of expression and of conscience will be preserved. An excellent summary of this was raised by Edward Leigh [Conservative] in a private member's bill amendment a few weeks ago. If the proposed bill becomes law, we can expect a huge amount of legal wrangling.

4. Her Majesty the Queen is the head of The Commonwealth and is likely to be embarrassed if same-sex marriage were legalized, because it is unacceptable to many Commonwealth nations, as it is unacceptable to Middle and Far Eastern countries. International and diplomatic relationships would be strained. Threats to our society are growing and the perceived decadence and lack of democracy of the proposed legislation. is likely to encourage radical views in the Middle East. While we are right to expect tolerance, it is wrong to expect other countries to be more lenient to homosexuality, when same-sex marriage is unacceptable to them, culturally, morally and from the point of view of their faith.

5. Christians believe that the Biblical view of marriage is correct and most adhere to it. The union of a man and a woman was ordained by God thousands of years ago in Genesis 2:24 and was emphasized by Jesus in Matthew's gospel 19:4-6. Biblical marriage is a covenant; it is not a contract. Same-sex marriage is unacceptable to many people of other faiths.

6. No information on the cost of the proposed legislation has been published. Redefining

marriage will entail changing many articles of law and this and the time and effort taken to date to introduce the proposed change must be very expensive at a time when the country cannot afford it.

7. Over the past few months public opinion has been divided sharply by this issue as shown by the amount of mail received by MPs and it has proved to be far more divisive than the government had envisaged. The government is supposed to serve the country, not oppress it. Marriage between a man and a woman has been the norm worldwide for most people for thousands of years. No previous legislation on marriage has considered altering the union of a man and a woman and it is folly to attempt it.

February 2013

Prepared 4th March 2013