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'POLICY EXCHANGE' REPORT - SAME SEX MARRIAGE.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO COALITION MPs.

With much of the Muslim Middle East in violent political upheaval, turmoil or in flames, and with the Euro-zone and several western countries in economic free fall, it beggars belief that same sex marriage can feature as a priority at all in any government's legislative programme. Many will find it depressing that at such a time our government can engage in the distraction of an ideological theory for redefining and reshaping marriage. More so as current policy to promote homosexual "marriage" is driven by only a tiny minority, within a minority, of the homosexual community in the UK. In pursuit of this arbitrary policy this coalition government is about to degrade, devalue, and depersonalise marriage.

That is certainly to radically re-define it. Everyone is free to love whom they like but not to redefine marriage because to redefine it is to destroy it. Marriage's fundamental essence to bind husbands and wives together for the protection of their children and their elderly relatives will be gone for ever. Behind much of the government's policy is The Conservative Party's 'think tank' 'Policy Exchange' report of 60 pages prepared by Lord Ashcroft which attempts to justify homosexual "marriage". It offers a view that a "conservative case" in favour of reform has emerged on this issue.

The title of this report itself is risible - 'What's In A Name? Is There A Case for Equal Marriage?' [1]

As an apologetic for the value of marriage in general much of the report makes a very fair and reasonable case, but regretfully in many instances the references to 'marriage' in it assume a same sex relationship. It is decision based evidence gathering not evidence based decision making.

Likewise the report's many references to "equal" is also deceptive, accentuating as it does a perceived inequality between heterosexuals and homosexuals in relation to marriage, which it claims needs to be redressed. The wrong inference drawn is that marriage as an institution is denied to homosexuals resulting in injustice, and it is this sense of grievance which mars much of some well reasoned discussion in the paper. For example it asserts: "there is not a compelling reason to shut out 'gays' and lesbian people from the benefits that marriage provides. Or - "there is still a case for equality before the law". Again, "we do not believe that somebody's sexuality is a justifiable reason to prevent them from marrying the person they love". These claims perpetuate the myth that homosexuals are denied access to marriage, when what is really meant is marriage to one another!

Marriage – The Battle Of Our Time

"There are key battles which define a generation. Back in the '60s the counter culture unleashed a torrent of radical liberation movements, which included the horrific abortion onslaught. It has became one of the key fights for the past half century. The most obvious example today is the war being fought over marriage. This is just as significant and monumental a battle as is the battle for life. It is a defining moment for the entire Western world, and it will have repercussions for the entire world. To destroy the institution of marriage by redefining it out of existence is a social upheaval so momentous and so far-reaching that we cannot even clearly predict just how much damage will ensue." (Jennifer Thieme) [2].

But in the UK there is no justification for government to arbitrarily engage in this battle, for it has no democratic legitimacy in seeking to change the definition of marriage by legislating for homosexual "marriage". In fact the policy did not appear in any party political manifesto in the 2010 General Election.

Equally, the following assertion made in the Policy Exchange report is disingenuous: "the burden of proof is on the opponents of marriage equality to say, in the language the law understands, why gay people do not deserve the same liberties as their fellow citizens".

In reply it must be said again, such liberty of access to marriage is for homosexuals as for all others within the normal and accepted rules of consanguinity. I suggest therefore that the burden of proof for a change in the law lies with government which now challenges the universally accepted concept of marriage.

Civil Partnerships

A serious weakness in the arguments put forward for homosexual "marriage" by the authors of the Policy Exchange report, much of which purports to support the institution of marriage, can be fully applied to the terms of Civil Partnerships, including the claim of "equality before the law".

As many opponents of homosexual "marriage" have pointed out, there is virtually little legal difference between Civil Partnerships and normal marriage so there is no need to re-define marriage to include them. CPs "confer the benefits of marriage in all but name".

One of these differences between CP's and marriage it is claimed, "is that the former can be a purely legal agreement, whereas a marriage must involve an exchange of vows". But that invites the obvious retort that there is nothing to prevent partners in CP's making or exchanging such vows if they wish.

It is rightly said then that marriage and CPs have been designed for two very different types of relationship and should be kept distinct.

This being the case we must look elsewhere for the underlying push for homosexual "marriage", and the fanatical zeal by the many various homosexual lobbyists in agitating for a change in the law.

Policy Exchange appears to confirm what others have already said, namely that homosexuals are looking for a greater measure of acceptance within society, and specifically for their homosexual acts to find acceptance and legitimacy in 'marriage' which CP does not provide.

For example the report states: "Equal marriage would be an important and decisive step to fully integrating gay and lesbian people as members of a society." (emphasis added by BTM)

So a change in the law would entrench that perceived legitimacy, and would be an important first step towards acceptance by the general public of a much wider homosexual ethos. Thus a progression from CP's to 'marriage' would indeed change our understanding of what marriage is, and would radically re-define it for all of us, and some of which, it is feared, will have severely damaging consequences.

Re-defining Marriage – Complex and Expensive

Apart from a casual reference in the report's conclusion – "The law is relatively easy and inexpensive to change in this area", the economic and administrative changes required for homosexual "marriage" are ignored by Policy Exchange, perhaps for obvious reasons to do with some real political and economic implications. But many others reach an entirely different conclusion for, as Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship points out, "Redefining marriage will be expensive, would have complicated policy implications, would have bewildering effects on the English language and lead to further unfairness."

The change "could cost £Billions, and involve amending hundreds of pieces of government legislation. The word 'marriage' appears 3,258 times in UK legislation, which underlines the central role the institution plays in national law. Introducing SSM is a legal can of worms which cannot be achieved without changing the legal and common definition of the word marriage, and other words which define it (e.g. 'husband and wife', 'consummation', and 'adultery'). These changes will inevitably change the definition and nature of marriage for opposite sex couples by trying to accommodate these two different kinds of relationship under one legal umbrella." [3].

If, as it is suggested, civil partnerships become open to heterosexuals and marriage open to same-sex couples then even the leading homosexual advocates admits this would cost about £5 billion.

How can the government's proposals be justified at a time of deep national debt and economic recession? In terms of cost alone and the additional complex administrative changes SSM must be seen as an expensive irrelevance which must not shape public policy. The fact that Policy Exchange fails to recognise and include these aspects in their report is a serious omission.

The Ideological Divide

This lies at the very centre of the deep divisions between the government and advocates of homosexual "marriage" on one hand, and opponents and supporters of traditional God-given marriage on the other.

Natural law, the weight of a general consensus, including that of all the major world religions, all add up to the recognition that marriage is essentially a heterosexual union of a man and a woman for the procreation of children. "Marriage has existed in all cultures for thousands of years .... One man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life..... It is not up to governments to redefine marriage, but simply to recognise it for what it is, and to promote and protect it as a unique institution. Same sex marriage is an oxymoron, like a four wheeled bicycle or a two storey bungalow)" [4].

Similarly: "Marriage" by its very nature and essence is about two people of different genders coming together. While marriage may have accidental predicates, such as the duration of the ceremony, the particular ages of the participants, whether it is a church wedding or not, its essential predicate is the one man/one woman requirement.

This gendered nature of marriage is its essential defining feature. Take away the two genders and you no longer have marriage. Simply redefining something does not change its ultimate reality. Marriage is still about a man-woman relationship, and calling homosexual 'marriage' marriage does not make it so.

Peter Saunders comments: "to legalise SSM also involves complex policy choices. First the Government has to decide whether it wants civil partnerships to continue. According to the consultation the Government wants there to be two legal options for homosexuals (civil partnerships and marriage), but only one for heterosexuals (namely marriage). This is hardly equality. Surely this state of affairs is wide open to legal challenge by an unmarried heterosexual couple on discrimination and human rights grounds?" [5].

Homosexual "marriage" therefore is a deeply divisive ideological issue, for the "gay-rights" movement is instinctively totalitarian. It seeks nothing less than the total and complete acceptance of gay marriage and the repudiation of marriage as it has existed through all human history. However, we elect MPs into office to govern, not to promote their own ideological theories from positions of power at Westminster.

The Biblical Case

Consciously or otherwise, the great majority of people accept the God given institution of marriage as between one man and one woman as normal. As many have indicated, to extend marriage to same sex couples is a distortion, and may well lead to unintended consequences in many areas of life, and not least for children and education.

For orthodox Christians the words of Jesus on the matter are both clear and final, which endorse exclusively heterosexual marriage as God's plan and purpose – "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder". The government plans to change the law, but needs the reminder that there is a higher law of God on the matter of marriage, and higher than that of any human government.

In Jesus' discussion on marriage, albeit in the wider context of divorce, He drew attention to two facts: First, "human sexuality was a divine creation, and human marriage a divine ordinance" (J. Stott 'Issues Facing Christians Today). By definition therefore same sex unions are a perversion of the divine order and must be wrong for all concerned.

Conclusion

The central issue in the current debate is not as suggested by Policy Exchange that: "The benefits of marriage are clear and proven" (for that is a given as most would agree), but rather how do the authors define the concept of marriage? Since announcement of the government's proposals many Christians have consistently presented a case for traditional marriage and argued it clearly and logically, based on principle, and often in considerable depth, whilst some contributing commentators are outstanding. They continue to 'speak truth to power'. (see References below for particular recommendations) 6.

Aside from the think tank survey's attempt to commend homosexual "marriage", a reasoned Conservative/Coalition rationale justifying it is virtually non-existent. Where the policy is presented by Ministers it is inadequate, shallow, and lacking intellectual and moral integrity. They simply have not made the case for a change in the law on marriage.

Notwithstanding coming Parliamentary debates on the issue it must be asked why the government so signally failed to present a wider discussion and debate on such an important issue over a reasonable period of time. To its shame, the government's public on line 'consultation' exercise has already been exposed as disingenuous, if not actually dishonest, as it failed to allow the public a discussion on the basic principle as to why legalising homosexual "marriage" should proceed.

It is not good enough for our Prime Minister to simplistically announce the policy "because I'm a Conservative". That is a statement not a reason!

Likewise for the new Culture Secretary, Mrs Maria Miller's purported justification of homosexual "marriage". Her patronising and vacuous short video on behalf of 'Out4marriage' with its emphasis on "equal marriage", was an embarrassingly incoherent presentation which did nothing to elucidate government policy. For a Minister concerned with 'culture' she seemed unaware that SSM degrades the very concept, and is an attack upon one of the foundational elements binding society together [7]

For over 600,000 people 8 who have signed the Coalition for Marriage petition supporting traditional marriage these threadbare contributions for a full and meaningful debate on their own policy seem to indicate more incompetence, if not arrogance, on the part of Ministers.

Let us hope therefore that MPs will demonstrate rather more moral backbone and intellectual vigour than Ministers when this unnecessary debate takes place in Parliament. Westminster should follow the fine moral and spiritual lead shown by both the Northern Ireland Assembly and Australian Parliament in their recent rejection of moves to legalise homosexual "marriage".

Graham Wood (York)

References:

1. http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/what-s-in-a-name-is-there-a-case-for-equal-marriage

2. Clashdaily.com. Article by Jennifer Thieme: "The Roe v Wade of our time – The battle over Marriage."

3. www.cmf.org.uk Christian Medical Fellowship. Article: Peter Saunders: 'Why not legalise same-sex marriage?

4. Peter Saunders.

5. Ibid.

6. Outstanding articles and comment on SSM and related issues archived at the following web sites: www.anglican-mainstream.net www.billmuehlenberg.com

7. http://www.out4marriage.org/

8. c4m.org.uk