I was saddened, though not surprised, to see that the House of Commons has voted to approve same-sex marriage. It was a small consolation that more than half of Conservatives voted against. Nice to think that there are still some responsible people in my former party. But as I Tweeted next morning, the vote showed the shocking arrogance of MPs, in voting to vandalise an ancient institution for the sake of a modish whim. My former colleague Julie Girling MP, Chief Whip of the Conservative MEP delegation, told me that I was “on the wrong side of history” on this issue. But in social policy (as in business, and in climate science) it is a mistake to project current trends in straight lines. Many of these phenomena are cyclical, not linear.
The reason that marriage has a special and unique place in our society and culture, the reason it commands our respect (and should command tax breaks) is because it replenishes our population, it provides for the future of our society, and it potentially creates the ideal environment in which to nurture the next generation. We respect marriage not as a private affair between a man and a woman (after all many couples have private affairs without marriage), but because of the clear and massive benefits which marriage offers to our wider society. Indeed it is an existential issue. Without procreation, we have no future as a people or a nation, and all the evidence shows that marriage and the traditional family are the best forum for procreation.
I have absolutely no problem with same-sex couples making their own, private arrangements to live together, and entering into civil partnerships. That’s none of my business. But let’s be clear. Calling these relationships “marriage” offers no additional rights or benefits to the couple. Rather, it imposes (or seeks to impose) an obligation on the rest of us to respect such relationships on an equal basis with marriage (as properly understood). But it is not equal. It is a private arrangement which offers no extra benefits to society. It is merely a pale imitation of marriage. For myself, I decline to recognise same-sex relationships as marriage, whatever the House of Commons decides.
But you may well ask, “How does it affect you personally? Why should it bother you?”. Truth to tell, it probably doesn’t affect me directly, though we are all demeaned and diminished by the dilution of a great societal institution. But if I were a vicar, or a teacher, or a Registrar of marriages — or, indeed, a bed-and-breakfast proprietor — it could affect me a great deal.
Be assured, the so-called “protections” for churches to behave according to their creed and conscience will soon fall before the onslaught of Stonewall and the European Court of Human Rights. Christian teachers (and perhaps those of other faiths) will lose their jobs for declining to teach or endorse same-sex marriage. At least in the Commons debate, both sides of the question were aired. But soon, any criticism of “gay marriage”, any failure to recognise and respect it, will be deemed to be “discrimination”, and “hate speech”, and “homophobia”. And political correctness will have driven another nail into the coffin of free speech.
BREAKING NEWS — Same-Sex marriage driven by Brussels
The Government’s same-sex marriage legislation is being driven by an EU proposal which is set to become law later this year, according to the UK Independence Party.
“Many people have been asking what prompted the Prime Minister to pick this uncalled-for fight with many people in his own party and the country at large,” said UKIP leader Nigel Farage. “It has also been unclear why the same debate is being had simultaneously in other countries such as France, where opposition is also growing. Now we know the answer.”
An EU report due to be voted through the EU Parliament this November would see all marriages and civil contracts conducted in any EU country become legally binding in all other member states. Under the Berlinguer Report, a couple who are not permitted to marry in their home country could travel to another member state in order to wed, knowing that on their return home they would have to be regarded as married.
Paragraph 40 of the Report would mean that any member state would have to grant ‘all social benefits and other legal effects’ such as legal recognition, tax breaks and benefit entitlements to a married couple, even if such a marriage did not exist in their own legal system.
Mr Farage said:
“Now we know why David Cameron has launched this highly contentious and disruptive legislation, apparently out of the blue.
“If a couple were to marry in Belgium, Spain, Portugal or Sweden where same-sex marriage is possible, the EU will say that they have to be given the same legal rights in whichever member state they then chose to live – even if that state itself opposes the introduction of same-sex marriage. In essence the Berlinguer Report seeks to establish an EU-wide right to same-sex marriage.
“It’s no surprise that the Prime Minister has kept quiet about this, even at the expense of cohesion in his own party. He has a hard enough time trying to force his own backbenchers to swallow both his dedication to keeping Britain in the EU and his wish for the state to interfere in the definition of marriage. To suggest that the two issues are in fact interconnected would have caused complete uproar.”