Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by David Burton (MB 74)

I am currently and have been for many years, a Christian youth leader working with young teenagers, both boys and girls.

I am concerned on three issues which have not been dealt with, as far as I can see, in the proposed legislation.

These are:

1. Safeguards for Christian Youth Leaders in the face of this legislation.

2. Safeguards for Churches and Clubs in their use of public and/or private buildings for their services and activities.

3. The unfinished nature of this legislation.

1) The roll of Christian Youth Club Leaders if this legislation is passed. I understand that the government does not expect teachers in schools to promote same sex marriage or use material which does so if it is against their conscience to do so. How well that will stand up against European Court of Human Rights rulings is very questionable should a case of discrimination be brought against a school or teacher as it is unclear at present and will remain so until the legislation is tested in Court. How long into the future the government safeguards are kept is also unclear. What about Christian Youth Club Leaders who may well be asked about sexual orientation issues by children and teenagers in their care? Some questions may be pernicious and designed to catch the leader out, but most are genuine questions to do with sexual orientation. Will we be free to continue to teach the Biblical Christian position that same sex sexual acts are sinful and therefore same sex marriage is also sinful? Will we be in danger of court action?

2) What will the position be of churches and youth clubs that use public buildings such as Village Halls or School Buildings for their services or activities. Will they be in jeopardy for teaching what they believe to be the Biblical teaching on sexual orientation? Could the Village Hall or School be forced to exclude the Church or Youth Club from using their premises? Will parents or members of the public be able to bring court action against Trustees of Village or Town Halls or Schools and thus force them to deny the use of their premises to Churches or Clubs?

3) With this kind of legislation there tends to be a desire to push the boundaries of the legislation just as has happened with Civil Partnerships where the Christian public, and the Nation as a whole was assured that Same Sex Marriage would not become legal in the future. Many MPs in the debates both in the House of Commons and subsequent Question Time appearances have stated that this is the beginning of a journey just as Civil Partnership legislation was and that few people now object to Civil Partnerships, so with Same Sex Marriage, the expectation being that in a few years time the majority will wonder what all the fuss was about. Christian concern is that this legislation has a sinister agenda of social engineering that aims to change society as we know it. My concern is that this is not good for Society, leading as it inevitably will, to further changes in the future which will force Christians either to go against their consciences or lose their jobs as they will be forced out of their work place, bullied and denigrated in public office and their influence and voice silenced.

4) Some libertarians want this legislation to lead eventually to the abolition of marriage altogether, not, as has been stated by some politicians, to strengthen marriage. Some even want legislation eventually to allow anyone to have sex with anyone, including paedophiles with children, incest between brothers and sisters and parents and children as well as with animals. Whilst I am sure that the government would be as appalled as I am, the fact is that there is an agenda around this legislation which aims at going much further that many MPs realise. Once marriage has been redefined to include same sex couples for equality reasons, there is no boundary to stop further redefinitions should powerful enough lobbies wish to do so.

5) Baroness Varsy is on public record that Faith groups, including Churches and Christian organisations do good, providing countless hours of free voluntary work running all kinds of public benefit clubs and schemes, from Food Banks to Street Preachers. They do so because of a conviction that they are to love their neighbours as themselves and so want their contacts to hear the same message of salvation as they have heard and responded to. This legislation will not just be of interest to a tiny minority who might take advantage of it, but it will also put in jeopardy a huge number of independent churches and charities which do not believe this is either good or right for society. The pressure will not necessarily come from government either national or local, but from the Charity Commission, Insurance Companies, and possibly even Banks and other organisations who will want to promote this Equality Legislation to its limit.

6) Things that are equal are not necessarily the same. Men and women were created equal in the sight of God, but they are not the same. They complement each other. Both are needed for the creation of children and both bring different qualities to the care and upbringing of their children. This legislation does not address the needs of children for their biological parents. A man has never given birth to a baby nor has one ever, to my knowledge, suckled his baby. That is the responsibility and joy of the mother. Medical wisdom is that mother’s milk is better by far for the baby than manufactured milk. To try and change the roles of mothers and fathers or deliberately deny either a mother or a father their responsibilities to their children is a very dangerous route with unforeseen consequences which greatly concern me and countless others who hold similar views.

February 2013

Prepared 4th March 2013