…on Gay Marriage (or Marriage to give it its proper name)

Wedding 001After many months of long and detailed public consultation on the topic, this morning saw the long-awaited publication of the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (HC Bill 126) (a handy overview is also available), designed to finally grant same-sex couples the same marriage rights which opposite-sex couple have enjoyed for longer than anyone has been alive. The department for Culture, Media and Sport has published an assessment of the impact of this proposed legislation.

(Let’s not call this Gay Marriage, let’s call it what it is – Marriage.)

Predictably, there is a small but vocal group who are campaigning to continue to legalise discrimination against people based upon their sexuality, and this minority are stepping up their campaign now that the Bill has been published.

Here is a copy of a letter which the Campaign For Marriage (a loose alliance of Christian groups opposed to equality for homosexuals) are distributing to their supporters, encouraging them to write to their MPs demanding they oppose this move for equality. Unsurprisingly, their claims are riddled with inaccuracies, hyperbole and straw-men. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at each one and test it, especially if people are going to be using these claims to support their argument for opposing equality.

Explain to your MP why you are so concerned about the Bill, which changes the meaning of marriage for everyone.
This is simply not true – the only people for whom the meaning of marriage is changed are those against whom the law currently discriminates on the basis of their gender.
The meaning and definition of marriage for opposite-sex couples remains completely unchanged by this legislation. Certainly the sanctity of Britney Spears’ infamous 55 hour marriage would not be affected by same-sex couples having the right to get married to each other.
Ask your MP how they plan to ensure that people who believe in traditional marriage will be protected from hostility, for example at work, it the law ls changed.
No indication of what this expected hostility might be nor from where it would arise is ever given. Most likely because it is not likely to ever happen.
And even if there were a few individuals who started harassing people because same-sex marriage is now legal, existing laws already protect employees from harassment or hostility by other employees, employers and customers anyway.
Tell your MP that you will remember how they vote when you cast your vote at the next General Election.
It is good for all voters to remember how their MPs vote throughout their time in parliament across all issues.
Whilst they tell their MPs that they will bear this in mind, perhaps it is worth noting that 53% of those who responded in the government’s consultation stated they were in favour of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, and only 46% were against.
Say that Aidan O’Neill’s legal opinion shows that introducing same-sex marriage would take away the olvll liberties of many people. For example: Parents would be treated as intolerant just because they do not want their children to be taught that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage. There is great concern about what might be taught in schools.
The curriculum will simply require the teaching of the facts, which with the passing of this legislation into law would simply be that same-sex and opposite-sex couple are entitled to the same type of marriage.
Nothing more, nothing less, simply presenting the law and facts in an unbiased objective fashion. Aidan O’Neill has to date never explained why teaching children the facts of the law is taking anyone’s cvil liberties away in any way whatsoever.It is worth bearing in mind that many faith schools oppose things like divorce as part of their faith, yet they manage to teach their pupils about the legalities in a sensitive manner; the same will be true with same-sex marriage.

Say that redefining marriage was not in the party manifestos at the last general election. The political parties have no mandate for this change.
All three of the main parties made it absolutely clear prior to the General Election of 2010 that the supported equal marriage rights.
In addition, the Conservative Party’s Contract for Equalities, published alongside its General Election Manifesto in 2010, set out clearly that they would consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.
Say that redefining marriage ls a very big and difficult change, involving rewriting thousands of laws dating back centuries.
Because something is difficult, we should not attempt it? Really? Let’s be thankful that our forefathers didn’t all have that particular attitude!That said, to claim that this change involves rewriting centuries of laws is, well, completely wrong.
Indeed, the Bill explicitly covers this exact scenario, in a very simple, easy and effective manner. All pre-existing legislation is handled without effort by this Bill.

Children need a mother and father; homosexual marriage denies this.
If this were truly the case, then what about single-parent families, of which there are far more than there are of potential gay-parent families?
Presumably any child who loses a parent through divorce or death or any other reason will cease to function?Nobody has been able to explain how having two loving parents who care for their child very much somehow harms the child, despite that a few religious movements claim.

If there is any doubt about the ability of same-sex couples to raise a family of well-adjusted children, just watch this video by Zach Whals on that very topic.

Many homosexuals do not want same-sex marriage; several have spoken out publicly and it is confirmed by polls.
81% of LGBT respondants in the government’s consultation last year said they would wish to have a civil marriage ceremony.81%.That’s more than 4 times as many homosexuals who want it than do not want it. I think that pretty much refutes C4M’s claim here.

Marriage has served us well for centuries; it is a bedrock institution of society. It will only remain the bedrock of society if it remains the union of a man and a woman.
This implies that the definition of marriage has never changed and thus shouldn’t change now.
Leaving aside the fallaciousness of the “this is the way it’s always been done” argument, the fact is that marriage has been redefined. A great many times!Let’s start with the good old Biblical definition of marriage and see how we compare.
OK, which particular traditional biblical marriage, exactly? The one that Solomon had with his 700 wives and 300 concubines, perhaps?
Do people intend to keep the requirement that a marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin and if the wife is not a virgin then she shall be executed?
Will opponents of the change in definition of marriage still insist that if a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow?
The point being, marriage today is a far cry from ‘biblical’ marriage.In more recent times, back in the 19th century inequalities prevented Catholics, atheists, Baptists and many others from marrying except in the Anglican Church. They can all marry in their own churches or even in non-religious premises. Clearly, marriage has changed.

In the 20th century the law was changed to recognise married men and married women as equal before law – prior to this change in definition of marriage, married women were the property of their husband. Again, this was a major change in the definition of marriage.

To claim marriage is unchanged is false. To claim marriage can not be changed is false. To claim that any change to marriage destroys it is clearly false (unless on is arguing that women should still be the property of their husbands, that the only place people may marry is an Anglican church, that women may only marry if they are virgins, etc).

Indeed, by opening up marriage to enable any two consenting adults in love with each other to marry actually strengthens marriage and ensures that it remains the bedrock of our modern enlightened society.

This is not about rights. All the rights of marriage are already available through homosexual civll partnerships.
This is absolutely about rights! It is about the right of two people who love each other and happen to be of the same sex to marry in the same way that two people of opposite sexes are allowed to marry. That is the very definition of it being about equality of rights.It is incorrect to state that Civil Partnerships offer the same rights and protections and status as Marriage does. Rather than rehash the same old arguments, here is a very solid discussion of The Differences Between Civil Partnerships and Marriage and another one Countering The “Civil Partnerships Are Enough” Argument.Civil Partnerships, a kludge brought in by a previous government, were a step forward, but they are not equality. Just as it would be wrong to tell Rosa Parks that she has equality because blacks could travel on the same bus (they just had to sit at the back and give up their seat if white people were standing), so citing Civil Partnerships as equality is misinformed at best and disingenuous in the extreme.

In addition, in the government consultation, 87% said they would wish to convert their Civil Partnership into a full Marriage.

The reality is that by providing true equality within marriage, the only thing that will change is that any two consenting adults who are in love with each other will be able to get married.

The world will not end.
Society will not crumble.
The sky will not fall down.
Life will go on (albeit with greater sales for those involved in the wedding industry – what a perfect way to help lift the country out of recession!).

Same-sex marriage is already legal in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and 9 of the United States (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington); despite manic warnings of dire consequences, life has carried on as normal.

The truth of the matter is simply this – if you do not want to have a same-sex marriage, then don’t have one.
Nobody is forcing anyone to marry. All that is happening is that same-sex couple are finally being offered the same rights as opposite-sex couples.

Where’s the damage to society in that?