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There is no mandate for this change and the views of many have been ignored

04/02/2013 9:30 am

Fundamentally changing the definition of marriage is a major constitutional change and Parliament should not be rushed into making a decision that will have far reaching long-term consequences, many of them unintended. Once this understanding of marriage is fundamentally weakened, its unique value will be lost. The risk, if this Bill becomes law, is that the true meaning of marriage will gradually, over time, be lost, to the detriment of future generations. This Bill, we repeat, will change the meaning of marriage for everyone.

The British public, as a whole, did not seek this change; none of the mainstream political parties promised it in their last election manifestos; there has been no referendum; there was no Green or White Paper; and when the Government launched its consultation it did not ask whether the law should be changed, but how the law should be changed. There is no clear mandate for this change.

In pressing forward with this Bill the Government has set aside the views of over 625,000 people who signed a petition opposing the change, and effectively ignored the submissions of many others to the Equal Civil Marriage Consultation who also opposed the change. Whilst we accept that there is support for this change among a section of the British public, we believe that such a major constitutional change should not be decided on the basis of simple head counts. In short, we suggest that that there is no public consensus on this issue and that there is not sufficient public demand for so fundamental a change to the definition of marriage.

It is essential that Parliament proceeds with extreme caution before fundamental alterations are made to an institution that provides the primary tried and trusted context in which children are born and raised. We have made it clear that there are major arguments in principle against this change, but even leaving these to one side, any such changes should await considerably more evidence about child bearing and child rearing in the context of same sex unions.

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.