A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Allowing same sex couples to get married
17/09/2011 20:07:00

The Government has announced that it intends to change the law to allow same sex couples to get married.

Rather predictably, Roger Helmer MEP has written a piece for ConservativeHome opposing the move on four grounds.

Let's take each of his arguments in turn:

"It is not the business of government to legislate to change the meaning of a common and well-established word".

Civil marriage - as opposed to a religious marriage service - is a Government-established contract that people can enter into and thereby acquire certain rights. It is therefore absolutely the Government's business to decide who can have a civil marriage. What government should not do in a secular society is to try to require vicars, rabbis, imams or anyone else to marry people that their faith tells them should not be married.

"There are certain things that people can and cannot do because of their gender. It’s a limit placed on us by nature and biology, not by law".

Glad to see you were paying attention in biology lessons at school Roger. If you really believe that getting married is one of those things a) you've got nothing to worry about because even if the Government changes the law people of the same sex will still find themselves unable to get married but b) I fear you are going to find out you are wrong.

"Marriage is a relationship between three parties: a woman, a man and society. Society down the ages has recognised...the importance of the institution. The expectation is that marriage will generally lead to procreation...and that the resultant nuclear family will promote stability in society, replenish the population and provide the ideal circumstances in which children can be raised and socialised. A same-sex partnership is a relationship between two parties, not three, and there is no reason why society should treat it in the same way...because it does not offer the same broad benefits to society as a whole".

I find your view of the benefits of marriage depressingly narrow Roger. Of course the evidence suggests it is the best environment in which to bring up children (though we musn't give the impression that single parents or cohabiting couples can't do a great job - many do - nor should we forget the importance of the extended family) but society has an interest in promoting stable relationships beyond the rearing of children. If I have a long-term partner and I lose my job or get sick, I am less likely to need support from the government. If the only benefit of marriage was in relation to bringing up kids then following your argument we would ban men and women who were not able to have children from getting married. If you believe in the wider benefits of marriage as I do and you simply weren't expressing yourself very clearly, then you should be encouraging same sex couples to get married, not trying to stop them.

"Any attempt to broaden the definition of marriage to include other relationships can only be seen as a deliberate device to dilute, demean and diminish the institution of marriage".

Utter nonsense. When the law is changed, it will make not one jot of difference to my marriage. But it will allow those who love someone of the same sex to exchange the same vows as Karen and I exchanged, to be treated equally to us under the law and I will be proud to be one of the MPs who made it happen.

For too long, our Party has allowed itself to be portrayed as against people - against immigrants, against single mums, against gay and lesbian people. The only people I am against are those who don't behave responsibly. I am for people who come to this country with the intention to work hard and make a better life for them and their familes; I am for those who do their best on their own to bring up children; I am for those who love and want to make a public commitment to another human being; and most of all I am for a society in which people can be as open as they wish about who they are without facing intolerance and in which everyone is treated equally under the law.

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Readers' Comments

On 23/09/2011 16:55:00 Gwen Delahaye wrote:
I have no objection to people of the same sex having a civil partnership. However I do believe that the party should change it's view on people who choose to live together. When I married I fully believed that it was going to last forever. It didn't. I also believed that one should only ever get married once. Which is why, although in a caring, loving, relationship that has lasted for 17 years so far, I and my partner have chosen not to marry. The Government, chooses to ridicule and criticise those of us that make this choice, where as it condones same sex partnerships which go against all the teachings of the bible. My partner and I are totally committed to one another but people who make the choice to live together face more criticism and stigmatism these days then people of the same sex who choose a civil partnership. How can this be right?
On 30/09/2011 08:33:00 Gavin Barwell wrote:

I certainly don't think people who co-habit should be stigmatised or ridiculed. Provided you're doing no harm to anyone else, you should be free to live your life as you choose and as your example proves co-habitation can be the basis for a stable, long-term relationship just like marriage.

On 12/06/2012 13:53:00 Thomas wrote:
Thank you for this post, Gavin. I appreciate your support for this issue and, as one of your constituents who will be directly affected by the proposed changes (in that I will be given a right that is currently denied to me and my civil partner), it is heartening to see such a reasoned and well-thought out response to Helmer's comments.
On 18/06/2012 16:44:00 Kate Butchart wrote:

You're not my local MP, but I found a link to this post on the C4EM website, and I just want to applaud you on being awesome, and sincerely thank you for fighting for my right to marriage. This is the best piece I have read on the subject in a while and, just, you rock.




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