Co-authored with John Jalsevac
LONDON, June 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A petition by the UK’s Coalition for Marriage opposing the government’s proposal to re-write the definition of marriage, which has been signed by well over half-a-million petitioners, was delivered in a gift-wrapped box to the Home Office and to Downing Street this week.
The petition, one of the largest in the history of Parliament, was presented by recently married couple Rhys and Esther Curnow, both 23. The couple were joined by Conservative Party MPs Fiona Bruce and David Burrowes, Labour MP Jim Dobbin, and campaigners from the Coalition for Marriage, Colin Hart and Dr. Sharon James.
Dr Sharon James, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Marriage, said: “We’ve got over half a million people who are saying they believe in marriage, and this isn’t just religious people but people of no faith, gay people and straight people.
“We believe passionately in marriage. It’s much bigger than the church and the state and it goes back to the beginning of human history.”
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The debate about the Conservative government’s proposal remains fierce. On Wednesday, a Conservative Party cabinet minister delighted homosexualist campaigners when he said that excluding religious organizations from performing the “marriages” may be “problematic” should a law be brought forward.
“It may be that proscribing all religious organizations who have a licence to carry out marriage from carrying out same sex marriages – that may be rather more problematic legally than trying to give a protection for those religious organisations that do not wish to do so and making sure that they do not have to do so,” said prisons minister Crispin Blunt.
The comments were welcomed by the ultra-liberal Unitarian church, which has long been at the forefront of the religious representation of the homosexualist movement’s political agenda. Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches said, “We do not believe any religious group should be forced to undertake same sex marriage, however, we would claim the right to do so in line with our own deeply held convictions about the inherent worth of all individuals and for public recognition of relationships.”
Minister Blunt has described the current law as one of the “remaining examples of inequality that everyone now accepts are unacceptable.” He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group and in August 2010 left his marriage of 20 years to Victoria Jenkins in order, he said, to “come to terms with my homosexuality.”
Since the local elections in May that were disastrous for the Conservatives, the government has indicated it may be trying to back quietly away from its insistence on introducing “gay marriage,” an unpopular proposal with an already angry electorate. The party has already announced that MPs, including cabinet ministers, will be allowed a free vote on the subject, with Prime Minister David Cameron widely expected to agree soon to drop the unpopular push from the party’s official business and to campaign for it separately.
MPs remain divided on the issue, with a poll published by the left-leaning Independent newspaper showing that 63 Tory MPs would vote for gay marriage and 44 against, with the House of Commons overall being in favor by four to one.
Many opponents have objected that the government has specifically refused to hear arguments against changing the definition, restricting the formal public inquiry only to how the change could be made.
“The most outrageous thing today is that Mr Cameron said they are a Government who are going to prevail and they are going to introduce same-sex marriage. The consultation hasn’t even closed yet,” said Dr. James.
“It’s undemocratic and I think people up and down the country are saying ‘what an arrogant Government’.”
Paul Goodman, the executive editor of the influential Conservative Home website and a former Conservative MP, wrote that the Tory party has got itself into a “mess” with its push for “gay marriage”.
“From the viewpoint of practical politics, rather than conviction one way or the other,” Goodman wrote, “it is usually bad politics to seek to force through change which a majority or plurality of voters favour tepidly but a significant minority oppose passionately.”
The issue is uniquely set to divide the party, at a time when unity is essential for a strong showing in the upcoming election cycle.
Calling the move “a gambit straight out of the Blair textbook” Goodman said, “The only strategic reason for seeking to introduce gay marriage, therefore, is to seek to win younger, and doubtless new and urban-based voters at the expense of older and more rural-dwelling ones who tend to vote Tory.”
“The crux of the matter for many is whether the churches or other faith communities could be forced to conduct gay marriages against their will. I am not convinced this would be the case but the Church of England thinks otherwise,” Goodman added.
He pointed out that the proposal never appeared in any Conservative, or even Liberal Democrat election material or manifestoes, and that following the institution of civil partnerships, even the homosexualist lobby was not interested in pursuing a change to the definition of marriage.
With one day left in the consultation, the party’s leading policy analysts remain puzzled why Cameron has led them to the current pass.
“Regardless of one’s views on the matter it looks as though the Tory end of the Government has rushed into this one without thinking it through,” Goodman wrote.
Concerned UK residents still have a chance to sign before the close of the government’s “Equal Marriage” consultation closes at midnight on Thursday, June 14. In addition, short messages from citizens explaining their support for the traditional meaning of marriage may be submitted to the Home Office via their website, using their online form, until Thursday’s deadline.