Unsurprisingly, yesterday’s launch of the Government’s ‘consultation’ on gay marriage didn’t do down well in most Christian quarters.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the Government is making it clear that it has already decided that same-sex marriage will become legal. This makes it hard to understand why they are even bothering to have a consultation and what they are trying to achieve through it. Here are some opinions:
‘The Government consultation on same-sex ‘marriage’ makes a mockery of democracy and will ignore overwhelming public demand to keep marriage as it is – a union between a man and a woman.
A recent survey shows 70 per cent of the population don’t want marriage to be redefined, yet the Government says, in its consultation paper, it will not listen to majority opinion.
It states that however strong the opposition is to same-sex ‘marriage’, the number of respondents will not influence the outcome. This represents a blatant acknowledgement by the Government that it is only going through the motions with this consultation.
Over 200,000 people have, in less than three weeks, signed a Coalition for Marriage petition against changes to marriage. The Government appears intent on ignoring such high levels of public opinion from across society and is seeking to force through a redefinition of marriage as a done deal.
Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy for the Evangelical Alliance said: “When is a consultation not a consultation? The Government’s attempt to ignore public opinion about marriage has been a feature of their proposals from the outset. With 70 per cent of the population against marriage being redefined, it seems that politics is yet again falling short of what people want and is bringing the entire democratic process into disrepute.
“Changes to marriage are wanted only by a small, political elite and a few activist groups. It is clear that there is no public appetite for it so politicians should keep their hands off marriage and listen to what the country wants.”’ (Evangelical Alliance)
‘The Government launched its consultation on redefining marriage today. Not content with trying to change the meaning of “marriage”, now they’re trying to redefine the meaning of “consultation”.
Consultation means listening to people before making up your mind. But Lynne Featherstone has a new definition – she is going to bulldoze ahead with the plans whether the public like it or not. Some consultation.
Yes, she’ll ask the public if they agree. But she says she’s already determined to push on. Asking isn’t the same as listening – unless the meaning of those words has been redefined too.
This consultation is a sham. It is being pushed through despite the public never having a say on this change. None of the main political parties proposed redefining marriage in their manifestos and the impact assessment misses out many of the possible problems that could occur if this institution is redefined, for example how this change will affect our schools.
The institution of marriage is not the play thing of the state, it belongs to society and therefore cannot be redefined by a few politicians obsessed with appearing ‘trendy’ and ‘progressive’.’ (Coalition for Marriage)
The Church of England supports the way civil partnerships offer same-sex couples equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples. Opening marriage to same-sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.
The issue of whether marriage should be redefined to include those of the same-sex is a more complicated picture than has been painted. Arguments that suggest ‘religious marriage’ is separate and different from ‘civil marriage’, and will not be affected by the proposed redefinition, misunderstand the legal nature of marriage in this country. They mistake the form of the ceremony for the institution itself.
Currently, the legal institution of marriage into which people enter is the same whether they marry using a civil or a religious form of ceremony. And arguments that seek to treat ‘religious marriage’ as being a different institution fail to recognise the enduring place of the established church in providing marriages that have full state recognition. The Church of England will continue to argue against changing the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long. (Church of England)
I do wonder where the Government is going with this exercise. I’ve been in situations in different jobs where the management has asked for the views of the staff on an issue affecting the organisation only to then ignore what has often been a majority view and do something completely different. All that achieves is to stir up resentment, frustration and a feeling of disempowerment. I can see the same happening here. We are supposed to be living in a democracy, but just at the moment I’m starting to question what that actually means.