Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Sarah Haines (MB 79)

Submission for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples)Bill committee

Summary

I believe that marriage should be kept to one man and one woman and that there should be a drive in society to preserve and celebrate this holy union between man and woman defending it all times and keeping it safe from further dismantling and destruction from well meaning individuals who wish to make change for its own sake without looking at the consequences for this generation and for generations to come. Overall the whole impact of this redefinition of marriage on children and families should be considered in much more detail and with more children centred arguments rather than focusing on the adults rights and needs.

Personal Background

1. I am a mother, wife and qualified Primary School Teacher and I write in a personal capacity. My husband and I have three daughters who are 12, 10 and 8 years. I am 41 years old and my husband is 40 years old. We have been married for almost 17 years.

2. We have lived in Hampshire for six years and our children go to the local state schools of which we support and are very grateful for. Over the last four years I have been doing local supply teaching whilst studying part time for a three years Masters in Education course. Before that period I supported my husband by travelling to Sweden and living there for 3 years and then moving back to England and settling into family life with three children under the age of 4 years. I then spent the next 8 years raising a family. During that time I volunteered and helped at playgroups and the children’s local schools and also became a parent governor at my daughter’s infant school. I decided to take the personal choice of raising a family with some financial and emotional sacrifice. However, I am so glad that I did and continue to do so today!

3. I have just recently passed a Masters in Arts in Education and graduate from the Open University in April 2013. My Masters degree particularly focused on children’s development, child psychology and children’s rights both in the U.K and other countries.

4. Both my husband and I are committed Christians. I became a Christian as a 13 year old through my mother becoming a Christian, first through her local church and from reading her Bible, and then my observing her change of moral and emotional character which then led to my own conversion. My parents met in the 1960’s and have been married for 45 years.

5. I met my husband at university. He also is a committed Christian and comes from a loving Christian home whereby his parents have been married for over 40 years, and we were privileged to see his mother’s parents celebrate their 60th anniversary.

Points for Submission

6.In the last couple of months, when this redefinition of marriage came up for debate and there was a suggestion that the marriage bill was going to be changed to allow same sex couples to marry, my heart and mind have been deeply troubled. Firstly, my husband and I were gravely disappointed that this was not in the Conservative’s party manifesto when they were trying hard to be elected. Before the 2009 election I had been a Labour voter, however, I felt that over the years Labour were in power, their moral muscle had grown slack and most of the structure that had been in place was gradually being dismantled (e.g. good honest and married couples were being turned away when they were wanting to adopt as opposed to single parents and same sex couples). We voted Conservative hoping that the traditional values especially focusing on the family would become strong once again and that it would be recognised as a respected and admired institution of British society which helps to keep our country strong and safe for future generations.

7. Unfortunately, I believe that if this redefinition of marriage takes place, we as a country will reap grave consequences, particularly for our children and future generations. Little evidence has been sought from this committee from psychologists and childrens’ charities that deal with children. I believe that the child is being left out of this whole redefinition of marriage which will lead to moral confusion of what is right and wrong.

8. The Jewish and Christian Bible tells us that the best foundation for a healthy and secure family is for a child to grow up in a family where there is a father and mother. Many studies from psychologists have confirmed that this is the case. As a married woman for over several years, I have experienced married life to have many challenges with my husband working very long hours and often working away. This demands me to trust my fidelity and I his and that I will also look after the children and keep them from harm and the house secure. Our marriage has provided the glue to keep us together but I have also accepted my role to complement his. My role as a mother is far different to his because I need to be more submissive to serve my children and their needs. He wants to provide and bring in money to the family as well as providing a fatherly presence. However, he also has to be submissive by putting his wife and children first when needed.

9. I believe Marriage and its definition, one man and one woman, should be kept sacrosanct at any costs. In the marriage vows, marriage is described as a holy mystery where God is invited to be in the union and should be kept as a relationship as exclusive to all others. I believe over the last 50 years marriage has become under-valued and people have forgotten those vows. One vow that stands out for me personally is to love ‘for rich and for poor’ , ‘in sickness and in health’, as well as ‘forsaking all others’. These are very high ideals to aim for, however, with God’s help I believe marriage can last a life time. If redefinition is allowed to take place, I believe this will devalue marriage even more as statistics show that same sex marriages in other countries e.g. Holland, Spain end far more in divorce than those under the traditional definition of marriage (Vital Statistics and Basic Demographic Indicators, 2011 and ‘The tenth Anniversary of Dutch same sex Marriage: How is marriage Doing in the Netherlands?, 2011).

10. Another question that comes to mind about redefining marriage is why does it need redefining? Polling show that only 39% of homosexuals see marriage as a priority (Civil Partnership survey 2012) and many homosexuals are happy to stay unmarried and don’t want children. If marriage is not broken why is the present coalition government trying to fix it? For many children and young people traditional marriage (one man and one woman) is something to aspire to and they long to find their future husband or wife. If same sex marriage is put on the same pedestal as heterosexual marriage this will blur the boundaries to what relationship is a healthy relationship which will ultimately lead children away from a union that has been recognised for generations to be for the procreation of children . Same sex couples do not naturally lead to children, therefore should they have a choice to decide to bring up a child thinking that their roles will provide a good environment for a growing child? It is important the needs of children are considered first rather than the needs of adults who want a relationship.

11. If the redefining of marriage takes place what will prevent this from redefining once again in a number of years with another government? This make a very grim future for our children, as if law follows a person’s wish to marry their cousin or aunt if they are in love why shouldn’t they be allowed to do so? Again the Bible tells us that this is forbidden for the very reason that the offspring will be unhealthy and will ruin the next generation building an unhealthy society. I really believe that these guidelines were given to us generations ago to protect us and prosper us, and these guidelines also apply to marriage being between one man and one woman.

12. If the marriage bill is changed the legal implications will be even more complex with mother and father omitted out of legal terminology (this has happened in Spain where progenitor 1 and progenitor 2 is used in order to not identify sex). We will all have to be very careful to state mother and father assuming that this will not be the natural state. As a mother myself, I do not wish to see any legislation that describes as something like parent 1, progenitor 1 or owner of a child – I am a mother, and society and government should be making every effort to reaffirm this, rather than meet the needs of a very small minority of people who wish to bring up children without any reference to a mother (or father).

13. As a teacher I am also hugely worried that teachers may be sued, ostracised, called bigots, and heavily criticised by pressure groups, other teachers, parents or local authorities if they refuse to admit books that promote and celebrate homosexuality, surrogacy, transgender (e.g. books like ‘Hello Sailor, Daddy’s Roommate’ and Josh and Jaz have three mums’ printed by Stonewall). At the moment a school is no under obligation to use or purchase these books. If redefining takes place homosexuality will come under equal opportunities, and there could then be immense pressure for teachers/librarians etc who believe in the traditional view of marriage to promote material that is not in accordance with their beliefs and importance they place to the current form of marriage.

14. There is also the risk that a homosexual life style and transvestitism is likely to be encouraged by exposing children to books suggested by Stonewall and for the majority of primary school children these issues are far removed from normal lives. In making these books available and celebrated we are making this a general and accepted fact of life whereas it is a minority of people who struggle with gender identity- If this goes ahead we may be encouraging a wider range of sexual behaviour at a time when children are struggling naturally with their identity in adolescence.

15. Any legislation that aims to protect religious groups by simply not allowing them to conduct such marriages because of their beliefs will fails to protect members of these groups (or other individuals) in other occupations that hold the same beliefs. The proposed "quadruple" lock is of no benefit if Christians (who are not vicars conducting marriages) can be accused of breaking the law if they fail to uphold the beliefs that the government wishes them to express under the new legislation.

16. Having read the draft Bill, it is apparent to me (as a legal lay person) that there has been too much focus on what specific church leaders think and not enough on what the church goers and the general public really think and what this may mean for children and future generations.

Thank you for reading these considerations.

February 2013

Prepared 4th March 2013