Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homosexual marriage: trouble ahead

It doesn't seem long - not more than a decade or three - since homosexual practice was illegal. Now not only is it legal, but practising homosexuals appear to have been transformed into a group who have to have whatever sort of legal privilege they ask for.

The first book in the Bible establishes marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. Marriage has long been legally defined as "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

Civil partnerships were introduced to allow homosexuals virtually all the rights and privileges of married couples, the practical differences between marriage and civil partnerships being those caused by the differences in sex.

Apparently this is no longer sufficient. Now there are voices calling for the definition of marriage to be altered to allow marriage not only between a man and a woman but between persons of the same sex. Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband have all voiced their support.

Why the cry for change, if civil partnerships offer virtually the same legal rights as marriage? Because homosexuals insist that homosexual relationships are every bit as normal as relationships within marriage and must not be allowed to appear in any way inferior. But that's not all. There is a second reason. This is a serious attempt to tear down the institution of marriage, divinely appointed at creation and the bedrock of society since.

The Scottish Government held a consultation on the matter which closed in December. When the consultation was opened, the Scottish Government said while no decision had been taken, "the Government's initial view is that marriage should be open to both same sex couples and opposite sex couples" - as though the Government's collective mind was already made up.

A consultation is to be launched south of the border in the next few weeks. Lynne Featherstone, minister in the Westminster Government in charge of equality matters, has said it will be followed by a change in the law. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the reform will be driven through Parliament. Home Secretary Theresa May is reported to have said that the Government intends to introduce same-sex marriage regardless of the consultation; the consultation was merely to help with the "nuts and bolts" of the legislation.

If David Cameron does attempt to change the law, he is not unlikely to have the biggest revolt on his hands since he became Prime Minister. Ministers would be expected to support him; other MPs have been promised a free vote. Opponents say more than 100 Tory backbenchers might vote against homosexual marriage.

MP David Burrowes said an attempt to change the law would open up a can of worms and a legal minefield about freedom, religion and equalities legislation.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, said in an interview in the Telegraph today: "Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. I don't think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can't just change it overnight, no matter how powerful you are."

It would be wrong to underestimate the pressure for change.

If it comes to it, will Christians be united in their support for traditional marriage, or will there be some few voices in the wilderness, and remaining Christians acting as though they were unconcerned?