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The Bill paves the way for yet more fundamental change

04/02/2013 9:30 am

By fundamentally altering the definition of marriage, the Government will leave the law on marriage vulnerable to even more radical change in the near future, however much the Government protests that this is not its intention. Over the last two decades, the laws have changed continually, despite assurances at each stage that the law would change no further. In 2004, for example, the Civil Partnerships Act was passed and religious organisations were excluded, but this was later changed (after assurances that it would not be) to allow civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted on religious premises. At the time the Civil Partnerships Act was debated there were also assurances that the definition of marriage would not be affected but, only a few years later, the Bill now before Parliament seeks to alter the fundamental meaning of marriage.

If the law is changed and the existing core understanding of marriage is lost, further changes both in Parliament and through the courts can be expected. Previous experience shows that statutory changes to fundamental institutions pave the way for further changes going well beyond what the drafters of the original measure considered desirable, or even conceivable. Slippery slope arguments are often overused, but in this case the evidence is clear: by making these changes, it is more likely that the law and core understanding of marriage will be altered further in the coming years.

Sections of the Briefing

THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE MATTERS

RETAINING MARRIAGE SOLELY FOR OPPOSITE SEX COUPLES IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY

THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR THIS CHANGE AND THE VIEWS OF MANY HAVE BEEN IGNORED

THE BILL PAVES THE WAY FOR YET MORE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE

THE PROPOSED ‘SAFEGUARDS’ ARE INADEQUATE

THE WIDER CONSEQUENCES OF THE BILL HAVE NOT BEEN ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED

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In-depth Briefing

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Briefing to Members of Parliament on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.