Freedom to disagree and the right to private conscience are fundamental liberties in any truly open society. Yet, the Government has utterly failed to consider the impact on civil liberty of its plans to redefine marriage.
The Coalition for Marriage has just released a new leaflet outlining ten ways redefining marriage would damage civil liberty.
If the meaning of marriage changes in law, they argue, based on expert legal opinion that:
1. Teachers in state schools will be forced to endorse the new definition of marriage. Those that refuse could be disciplined or even dismissed. Such action would be legal.
2. Parents will ultimately have no legal right to withdraw their children from lessons which endorse the new definition of marriage across the curriculum.
3. NHS/University/Armed forces chaplains could be lawfully fired by their employers if they express, even outside work time, the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
4. Foster carers could be legally rejected by local authorities on the basis that they fail to embrace the new definition of marriage.
5. Public sector workers could be demoted or dismissed for expressing support for marriage between one man and one woman.
6. Registrars who have a conscientious objection to the new definition of marriage will be dismissed unless they are prepared to act against their beliefs.
7. Churches/mosques/synagogues could ultimately be forced to perform same-sex weddings if a Government ban on such weddings in religious premises is overturned by the European courts.
8. The Church of England may have to disestablish or face the prospect of court action because, as the established church, it must provide a wedding to any person who is legally eligible to get married.
9. Faith-based charities could be banned from hiring public facilities if they refuse to endorse the new definition of marriage.
10. Clergy who disagree with same-sex marriage, but who are in a denomination which has no such objection, could be taken to court if the Government allows religious same sex weddings.
The scenarios above are based upon a legal opinion written by Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer. A summary of the legal opinion is available from the C4M website.
Reprinted with permission from Peter Saunders’ blog.