Statement by Edward Leigh on Same-sex Marriage & Civil Partnerships

I am astonished and disappointed that a Conservative Government, albeit a coalition one, has announced it is consulting on whether to do away with traditional marriage which has always been between a man and a woman.

The British are a tolerant people and it is right that homosexual people should be allowed to get on with their lives. But this does not extend to mangling the language of marriage so that, for the sake of the tiny number of gay people who prefer marriage to civil partnership, everyone else in society must have the definition of their own marriage altered forever.

Once we have departed from the universally understood framework of marriage, there is no logical reason why the new alternative institution should be limited to two people. Why not three? Or thirty-three?

Same-sex couples already have all the rights of marriage in the form of civil partnership. Why must they also have the language of marriage? No doubt because it is an important symbol to them. But it is also an important symbol to many other people. Must the religious and cultural heritage of the whole nation be overturned to suit the demands of a minority even of the gay community itself?

We should also be concerned about liberty. This is all part of a process whereby debate and honest language is manipulated and suppressed by a kind of Newspeak. In recent years people who say things gay rights groups do not like have often found themselves being reported to the police. If the government presses ahead and replaces marriage with a unisex institution, what is the future for those who say they do not believe a man can have a husband or a woman a wife?

This would not be the action of a government whose primary function is to protect our traditional freedoms and values. A recognizably Conservative Government would not do this.

On the separate issue of legalising the registration of civil partnerships in churches, this is being promoted as defending religious freedom. In fact, this is an attack on the bedrock of society: marriage and religion.

When Civil Partnerships were brought in we were assured that they were not marriage. This pledge has now been broken. A marriage is a union between a man and a woman making a sincere attempt to stay together for life with a view to raising children. Civil Partnerships, by definition, cannot be this. The whole point of banning Civil Partnerships in a place of worship was to make clear that they were not marriages. This distinction will now be lost.

Why is this an attack upon religion? Because sooner rather than later a Minister of Religion will be sued for refusing to conduct a gay marriage in Church. Even if our own courts stand firm, we can place little faith in the European Court of Human Rights. It will be argued, with some justification, that it is irrational and confusing for some churches to permit this and others not.

The Government seems to have lost the point of the Pope’s visit in September. He was arguing, and I agree, that religious people do not seek to impose their views on others. But they must be allowed their own space.

The Government has to recognize that this is a steam train on a collision course with the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. Same sex couples already have all the legal advantages of marriage and can have a blessing in those churches which want to do them without any change in the law.

16 thoughts on “Statement by Edward Leigh on Same-sex Marriage & Civil Partnerships

  1. Thank you for saying this openly. There seems to be such a climate of fear now that any debate has almost been shut down. Most people simply do not have the money to defend themselves against the cost of vexatious litigation where thoughtful comment upholding the view of traditional marriage is considered discriminatory or worse. When will open debate be allowed again without fear and why has the conservative party allowed this to happen?

    • Good piece Edward. Camron is such a big disappointment in many ways. I will not vote Conservative as long as he is leader. The 22 Committee should stop acting like lap dogs – if the Tories are to win the next GE outright.

  2. Those against gay marriage always fall back on the one redundant argument that of marriage being the best framework for rearing children. What of those heterosexual married couples who choose not to procreate. Is their marriage not valid? And gay couples who choose to adopt or have their own children aren’t allowed to be part of that cherished institution which is apparently so conducive to rearing children.

    There’s no valid reason to object to same sex marriage unless you think gay people shouldn’t be allowed the same rights of other members of society.

    Marriage is a man made institution and as such we can define as we want whether it is between a man and a woman or two men or two women. By saying it has always been this way so it should always remain is frankly reactionary and anti-progress.

    • No sorry, marriage is a God made institution thats why it says in the marriage service “what God has put together let no man put asunder” comes from Genesis 2:24

      • But two thirds of marriages in the UK are non-religious. Marriage is a secular institution. Sorry.

      • Wrong, Harry, ‘marriage’ is a religious institution, it’s a religious concept.

        If you don’t believe in God then there’s little point in getting marriage: it’s a substantiation and averment of duty in the face of God. The idea that marriage is a secular institution just doesn’t add up in the face of history.

        It’s so petty and tawdry that a minority in this country – and a vociferous minority at that – feel the need to assail institution after institution so that their personal whims are adequately satisfied. The sanctity of institutions – especially marriage – as they are bequeathed by history are thrown asunder for personal gratification without any acknowledgement of wider recourse. It’s this wishy-washy latitudinarianism that’s undermining the social fabric of this country.

      • @Tory

        I feel I ought to reply on the idea that it is one’s “personal whims” that cause one to marry. My husband and I are a rather conservative middle aged professional couple. we married (entered into a civil partnership, if you insist, but no-one uses the term) not because we wished to rub the Christians’ noses into anything or particularly have a go at the traditionalists, but in order (first) to ensure that each us had rights if anything happened to us; and secondly, for mutual help and society one ought to have of the other (I quote the BCP from memory and that doesn’t by the way make it a religious institution); and thirdly as a public statement of our lifelong commitment to each other. “Marriage” is the name we have for monogamous pair bonding, and it is not (like all legal relationships) to be reserved in a discriminatory way for heterosexuals.

        I suspect that Mr Leigh knows he is fighting in the last ditch on this issue, just as he was one of the small minority that fought against the Civil Partnership legislation in 2004. I will bet any poster on this thread that he is in an even smaller minority when this legislation passes later int he lifetime of this Parliament.

    • @Tory

      You may think that religious marriage has some sort of spiritual or even sacramental significance. That is your right. You can get married in a church.

      As I said, however, by a majority of over 2:1 the British people prefer non-religious ceremonies regulated purely by the state. They are interested in marriage as a civil institution – and many of them are, for example, divorcees and ineligible for a religious marriage. Are you seriously suggesting that such people are not “married”?

      In other words, marriage is a secular institution in the UK and the UK state (ie the Queen in Parliament) can define it as the UK state chooses.

      • Marriage is a religious institution – this is an incontrovertible fact. Partnerships give the veneer of marriage, but it isn’t marriage in itself; likewise, atheists who ‘marry’ flatter themselves with the pretence of ‘marriage’, and yet marriage has always been the practice of vouchsafing ones love and duty to their betrothed in the face of a Greater Authority: God; in the absence of belief, such acts become a mere pantomime, a societal habit that’s adhered to from a long-lost cultural more – it’s actually quite ironic.

      • >>> I feel I ought to reply on the idea that it is one’s “personal whims” that cause one to marry <<>>I suspect that Mr Leigh knows he is fighting in the last ditch on this issue, just as he was one of the small minority<<<

        Congratulations. A vociferous minority gets their own way… again.

      • @Tory

        The idea that marriage is a religious institution is quite laughable and rather a good illustration of how out of touch with reality you people are. We have had civil marriage in GB since 1837.

        And the idea that the non-religious (the majority of marriages as you seem top ignore are non-religious) who have a civil marriage are not married or less married is not only offensive but more to the point contrary to the civil rights of those who are exercising the right not to hold a faith.

  3. The Con-Lib Coalition Government wishes to legalise Homosexual “Marriage”.

    WHY? There are already Civil Partnerships, affording all the Legal Rights of Marriage to same-sex partners. If such partners wish to call this a “marriage” they are free to do so. To most religions and cultures Marriage has always been the solemn union of a man and a woman, indeed to some such as the RCs it is a Sacrament. This move IMO is a kick in the face for people who DO follow a faith and hold the Institution of Marriage to be sacred and immutable. We are told that this will only apply to “Civil Marriage”, what used to be called a “Registry Office Wedding”, and Religions will be exempt from performing “Marriage” Services which are at variance with their Teachings and Tenets. This sounds fair at first view, but I can remember what happened to religion based Adoption Agencies such as those run by the Roman Catholics which were forced to agree to Homosexual adoptions or close down, and some have taken this latter course to abide by the teachings of their Church. How long before a future government, Labour or Tory, notches this matter up and makes the Churches and other Religions “marry” same sex partners? The RC Leader in Scotland, Cardinal O’Brien, has already nailed his colours to the mast on this matter and the votes of people of that religion are rather significant not only in Scotland but in the UK as a whole in some key marginal seats and a direction from the pulpit on the Sunday before Polling Day could well influence the result in many constituencies. I fear we are witnessing a new Kulturkampf between those of Faith and the secularist leadership of the three main Political Parties and I am saddened thereby.

    We have also been told that “Equality Agendas” are a Labour idea to create and maintain Electoral Client Groups, fine but hollow words from the Party Leadership!

    My activities and vote at the next General Election will be informed by this move and I am sure many others will also be influenced likewise. Cameron has made a terrible mistake.

  4. Quote: there is no logical reason why the new alternative institution should be limited to two people. Why not three? Or thirty-three?

    And why should marriage be limited to the members of the same species? Why not a man and his loving companion Fido, who by the way, will certainly not part with his companion till “death do us part”.

    The whole excercise, this and many such, is a blind following of the principle of non-discrimination.

  5. What a disappointingly poorly argued load of tosh.

    Why is opening marriage to gays in any way ‘doing away with traditional marriage’? I am married, and I don’t see how two men on my street choosing to get married would have the slightest impact on my own marriage. It certainly won’t be ‘done away with’ or altered in any way at all.

    If this is the best that opponents of same sex marriages can do, then the change is as good as passed.

    • What a disappointingly poorly argued response to a cogent and thoughtful article. Mr Leigh does not suggest that two men getting married will impact your own marriage. He argues that the very *institution* of marriage is undermined by this approach – which it is.

      • “He argues that the very *institution* of marriage is undermined by this approach – which it is.”

        The idea that the tories are doing away with ‘Traditional Marriage’ is frankly laughable. Gay marriage is just the end game for an institution that ‘no-fault’ divorce and feminist family courts have long since completely corrupted. It’s funny how most ”social conservatives” in America and Britain continue to miss this obvious point. Gays aren’t interested in ‘traditional marriage’ only the heavily adulterated version we have today. Aside from that, why on earth would Mr Leigh be ‘astonished’ that his left-liberal party is pursuing left-liberal legislation?

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