LONDON, January 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – According to the Catholic bishops, the UK government’s proposed gay "marriage" bill eviscerates the meaning and content of marriage, reducing it to an institution divorced from its fundamental biological and social functions.
Over the weekend, the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales distributed one million postcards for churchgoers to send to MPs asking for the defeat of the legislation.
Marriage, they said, cannot be understood unless it is "seen as intimately related to the conception and rearing of children”. But it is precisely this understanding that the government’s bill throws out.
“Marriage,” they said, “is not only the institutional recognition of love and commitment. Marriage, as legally recognised in this country, is also the institutional recognition of a unique kind of relationship in which children are raised by their birth-parents. Even if this is not always possible in practice, the law, by recognising this core understanding of marriage, sends a vital signal to society of an ideal.”
Under the proposed law, “marriage" will become “an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, is no longer central to society’s understanding of that institution,” the bishops said in a brief.
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The bishops pinpointed several clauses in the bill they said will change the legal precepts that until now have created the foundation of the nation’s law on marriage, particularly as it relates to the bearing and raising of children. These include the common law presumption that a child born to a mother during her marriage is also the child of her partner; altering the provisions on divorce so that sexual infidelity by one of the parties in a same sex marriage with another same sex partner will not constitute adultery; and nonconsummation will not be a ground on which a same sex marriage is voidable.
Maria Miller, the culture secretary, unveiled the legislation on Friday, saying it protects religious institutions that do not want to perform ceremonies and would secure “equal and fair” treatment for same-sex partners.
Miller said that marriage “has changed throughout our history, and continues to change.”
“The values of marriage bind families and communities together and bring stability. I believe that couples should not be excluded from marriage just because they love someone of the same sex. In opening up marriage to same-sex couples, we will further strengthen the importance of marriage in our society.”
But the bishops responded that this argument, although “intuitively appealing,” is “fundamentally flawed” because it excises the procreative aspect of marriage.
“Those who argue for same sex marriage do so on the basis that it is unjust to treat same sex and heterosexual relationships differently in allowing only heterosexual couples access to marriage. Our principal argument against this is that it is not unequal or unfair to treat those in different circumstances differently. Indeed, to treat them the same would itself be unjust.”
Anthony Ozimic, the communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told LifeSiteNews.com that his organisation is urging rejection of the bill on the basic principle that marriage cannot ever, by its objective nature, include same-sex partners.
He agreed with the bishops that among the many damaging aspects of this law would be the codification of the separation of marriage from its natural, procreative purpose. He called it, “Yet another way in which gay marriage reduces marriage to the level of child-free and commitment-lite relationships.”
He responded to the effort by Edward Leigh MP who is putting forward a bill to protect conscientious objectors, saying that SPUC’s focus is on getting MPs to reject the bill as a whole on principle.
It needs to go, he said, “not because of this or that element or because some elements will make life difficult. Those elements are changeable and the government may change some of those elements in order to win over MPs or voters who will accept gay marriage in law as along as churches or conscientious objectors get stronger protections.”
The bill surpasses the work of the “social revolutionaries of centuries past plotted to debase marriage in order to remove an obstacle to the corruption of public morals,” he said. “Not even they proposed the dangerous absurdity of same-sex marriage."
“We now see that the Cameron government’s bill will debase the currency of marriage by creating a counterfeit version of marriage, one in which neither procreation nor sexual fidelity are central. Gay marriage is far more than a small extension to include a minority preference.”
Noting that the government has set Second Reading for the bill for February 5th, SPUC is asking supporters to call or email MPs, instead of waiting for the post. John Smeaton, Director of SPUC, wrote, “The postcard campaign can still be helpful, but phoning or emailing MPs is most urgent.”