Gales View - 6th February 2013
By the time that this hits the newsstands the House of Commons will have voted, almost certainly by a large majority, in favour of same-sex marriage. An alliance of Labour and Liberal Members, together with a significant minority of the parliamentary Conservative Party led by the Prime Minister, will have given a second reading to a measure that was not contained in any party`s election manifesto and for which there is no electoral mandate. It is to that level that what passes for democracy in the United Kingdom has been reduced.
It is only a week or so ago that the Liberal Democrats, the party that has campaigned for what they call fair votes”, having applauded the need to revise the parliamentary election boundaries, voted first in the Lords and subsequently in the Commons to stand their beliefs” on their head and to defeat a measure that would have reduced the size of the House of Commons by fifty seats and begun a process that would have led to all votes being of more or less equal value.
It is not surprising that, based upon the naked opportunism and political treachery of the second vote and the betrayal of a fundamental belief in the true meaning and value of marriage of the first, the Great British Public has begun to feel that the days of honour, vocation and commitment in politics are under terminal stress.
I happen to have been in the chair for much of the passage, through committee, of the Civil Partnerships Bill. It was clearly stated, at that time, that this was not the thin end of the wedge” and that it would not lead to gay marriage” and that it was a complete measure in itself designed to rectify in law some undeniable and unacceptable discriminations against same-sex couples. So much for undertakings. The Secretary of State with responsibility for Equality, Maria Miller, has stated, correctly, that one government cannot bind a future government. Without, however, some acceptance that undertakings clearly given by both sides of the House in a particular debate should be given a reasonable chance to stand the test of time I see no future for any such undertakings, given by any and all political parties, in relation to, say, High Speed Rail, the European Union , or the protection of religious faith in the context of same-sex marriage. With cynicism and expedience the order of the day we may be sure that if the Same-Sex Marriage bill proceeds through the Commons and the Lords to Royal Assent – and I can only hazard a guess at what Her Majesty might be thinking as she writes , in Norman French, La Reine le veult” on that piece of legislation – it will only be a question of time before a referral to the European Court of Human Rights drives a coach and horses through Mr. Gove`s promises that this will not affect the rights of teachers faith schools” and the Maria Miller`s much-vaunted quadruple lock” in respect of marriage in church or chapel or mosque or temple or synagogue. I do not believe that those offered ”protections” will be worth the paper that they are written on.
I understand that there is a generation gap and that many young people – my own children included – take a rather more relaxed attitude towards same-sex unions than those of us of a certain age. With the perspective of advancing years, however, I am not remotely persuaded that sacrificing time-honoured traditions of faith an society on the altar of trendy modernity or artificial equality are acceptable as the way forward. Marriage, for those who belong to most faith groups, have represented and will continue to represent the union between a man and a woman, fundamentally for the purpose, within faith, of procreation and the raising of children within a loving and a secure family environment. Those who have drafted this dog`s breakfast of a piece of legislation are now struggling to work out how they will address issues such as consummation and the inevitable divorces between same-sex couples.
We are likely to be left with a re-definition of marriage” sired by George Orwell and born of Alice in Wonderland, that says that this word – and therefore presumably any word – means whatever I choose it to mean. That is not merely semantic. It strikes at the heart of truth and I do not believe that the government – the one that I support or any other – has any right to do that.