The Same Sex Marriage debate

Dec 18, 2012 by

As all readers are probably aware last week the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller MP, outlined legislation for the legalisation of Same Sex Marriage. Since the announcement, it is fair to say that this has been one of the most fiercely debated political issues of recent years.

In the interest of healthy debate and discussion, The Broxtowe Blue is featuring two pieces, one in favour of and one opposed to Same Sex marriage. As ever, we welcome readers comments and debate on this important matter in the comment box below.

FOR

Take two brothers. Both aspire to meet the love of their life, settle down and marry. It’s an admirable and normal goal. After all, marriage brings long-term commitment and stability, and makes our society stronger. It’s a public declaration of love, fidelity and commitment. Sometimes marriages fail but many last for life. But under the current law, that laudable desire to marry is only available to the heterosexual brother because his homosexual sibling is denied the special relationship of marriage. And that’s not fair.

The Government’s proposals mean that marriage will now be available to everyone. As Maria Miller said when announcing new laws to allow same sex marriage “I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the State should not stand in their way. These changes will strengthen marriage in our society and ensure that it remains a modern and vibrant tradition. And we are also building a fairer society for all.”

Recent opinion polls show the majority of people agree. An Ipsos Mori poll for the campaign group Freedom to Marry found 73% of people believe gay people should be able to marry a gay partner (www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3091/Poll-on-Gay-Marriage.aspx).

The survey also found more support amongst the young and middle aged with most resistance from the over 65’s. 15% of 18 to 34 year olds were opposed to same sex marriage with 82 % in favour. However, 38% of over 65’s opposed gay marriage with 59% in favour.

The Government’s proposed laws provide what’s called a “quadruple lock” – four measures within the legislation that will ensure no church, religion or faith will be forced to perform same sex marriages. Those religions that do want to perform gay marriages will be free to “opt in”. So, opponents of equal rights to marry (who claimed it would force unwelcome changes on religions) have nothing to fear except, perhaps, their own prejudice.

Our MP has been a firm supporter of same sex marriage and so she should; it’s not just fair and right, it also happens to be in line with the views of the majority of people.

AGAINST

If the Church of England is the Tory party at prayer, it is not hard to understand that for some party activists, same sex marriage is a step too far. This is not a right wing reactionary stance but borne out of religious conviction, well put by the Archbishop of Southwark (Daily Telegraph, Dec 12):

‘What marriage has always meant is the union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support, and open to the procreation of children. This is the most secure foundation for the family and, as all the evidence shows, provides the best environment in which the next generation can be created and brought up as flourishing members of society. That is why society has given a particular legal status to marriage distinct from all other relationships: it is because it provides a unique benefit not only to the married couple but also society itself’

A wish to preserve this unique status is at the heart of those who oppose this change in the law. This stance is pro-heterosexual not anti-gay. Since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act started the decriminalisation process there has been, quite rightly, a whole raft of equality legislation to accept, support and protect gay people and same sex relationships; but, as the Archbishop points out, ‘The Civil Partnerships Act provided all the practical and legal benefits that same-sex couples argued for’. So why the need for this legislation?

Both Labour and Conservatives have now announced free votes for MPs which is to be welcomed. The so-called ‘quadruple lock’ (outlawing same-sex marriage ceremonies in the Church of England and protecting other religious groups from having to hold such ceremonies) is also to be welcomed, although a legal challenge hinted at by the likes of Peter Tatchell, under the Human Rights Act, is a concern.

Predictably, UKIP sense an opportunity. Farage will now have three policies to put before the electorate; anti Europe, anti immigration and anti same-sex marriage! Whatever the current attraction of UKIP to some Tory voters, when it comes to the General Election they need to realise: ‘Vote UKIP, Get Labour’.

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Leave a Reply