Same-Sex Civil Marriage: Who Should Decide?


Last year the coalition government caused much controversy when it announced it would legislate for same-sex civil marriages by 2015. At the time this was assumed to be a policy introduced by the Liberal Democrats but the Conservatives were perfectly clear in their backing when Mr Cameron, at last year’s Party Conference, announced that he was not backing this in spite of being a Conservative, he was backing it because he was a Conservative. Many have been quick to point out that progressive and conservative are contradictory terms but the capitalisation of the party C is more than merely capitalising a proper noun, it emphasises the socially liberal side of this party and the willingness to update and interact with a changing society. Nothing demonstrates this more than the same-sex marriage debate.

An article in the Daily Mail by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has underlined the view of many churches and religious sections of society that fundamentally disagree with what they term as “one of the greatest political power grabs in history”. How a “power grab” ending discrimination for homosexual couples and allowing them entry to the institution of marriage is negative one cannot understand, particularly when Lord Carey continues to write that the “state does not ‘own’ the institution of marriage. Nor does the church.” Who the power is then being ‘grabbed’ from is open to speculation but one can venture a guess that it is from the traditionalists, the homophobes and the oppressors.

Before claiming that the institution of (heterosexual) marriage should immediately be opened up, it is necessary to consider the institution itself. Marriage is in decline and no-one will dispute this; divorce rates are rapidly rising and more couples are choosing to cohabit rather than marry. Lord Carey referred to marriage as one of the country’s greatest strengths but does not seem to pause to consider that allowing same-sex couples to marry could strengthen, rather than weaken, this institution. How many

global picture of homosexuality

The world picture: can we politically afford to lag behind in the 'equality league'?

individuals believe the institution is currently discriminatory and how many committed, in love, same-sex couples want to formalise their relationship in this way? If the United Kingdom believes in the necessity of marriage and that it is the best way to raise children and spend your life then we cannot deny these benefits to the minority?

Lord Carey is currently backing the C4M (Coalition for Marriage) who have (at the time of my writing this) 2,552 signatures, opposed to the Equal Love Campaign who want to overturn the twin bans on not letting heterosexual couples enter civil partnerships and not letting homosexual couples enter marriage, whose petition has 2,426 signatures. The question remains, however, whether the amount of signatures or even public votes if it was put to a national referendum is even relevant. Should it be down to public opinion to vote on issues of discrimination? Would minorities ever gain equality if it was left to the majority to decide their fate? More importantly, should our politicians have the final say or is it an issue that Europe as a whole should decide on? In terms of legality, the UK is quite within our right to remain as we are, with civil partnerships giving same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, but the longer we leave our re-legislation, and I do believe it will eventually happen no matter the opposition, the less equal we appear on the world stage which can only be detrimental to our international relationships.

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Posted on February 20, 2012, in Coalition Government, Comment, Conservative Party and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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