Catholic Voices responds to government gay-marriage consultation

Catholic Voices today formally submitted to the Government's 'Consultation on equal civil marriage'. Using arguments both from its own briefing paper, 'In Defence of Conjugality', and from the submissions of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales published yesterday, it told the Government (in the 200 maximum words allowed) why it was opposed to redefining marriage. 

Marriage is an institution distinct from other relationships by virtue its link to procreation, and to the possibility of a man and a woman creating children who are brought up by their natural parents.  In this distinctiveness lie, also, the particular benefits of marriage (above all to chlidren being raised in a low-conflict, committed relationship by their natural parents) and the public good of marriage; and this is the reason why marriage occupies a special place in society, which is in turn recognised by the state. The Government proposes to overthrow this distinctiveness by reducing marriage to a relationship between two people; this not only undermines the state's justification for involving itself in this area, but will have the effect of destroying the importance of marriage in the eyes of society, to the detriment of future generations of children. There is no legitmacy or mandate for this move: two ComRes polls have shown both that 70% of UK want to retain current definition and that gay people are indifferent to the move. The Government overreaches itself in seeking to rearrange the basic architecture of civil society, thus permanently undermining the meaning of marriage to society. 

Under a subsequent question, Catholic Voices disagreed that the ability of religious organisations to teach their beliefs about marriage would be unaffected by the proposed redefinition. 

Evidence from other countries is clear that when the definition of marriage in law has  been changed, all charities and associations in receipt of public money must conform to that definition, or else face discrimination charges and vexatious claims. We have seen, for example, how pressure was brought to bear on a Catholic school which urged parents and over-16 students to sign the Coalition for Marriage petition. Although the school was doing no more than act within its conscience and beliefs, the school was criticised for breaking the law and 'teaching hate'. Such cases will be very common following a gay marriage law.

CV coordinator Austen Ivereigh was also interviewed yesterday by BBC News 24 in response to the Anglican submission (watch here). 

The Consultation closes tomorrow. You can submit your response online here

Yesterday the Coalition for Marriage presented 10, Downing St with its petition against redefining marriage (see video here). The petition is one of the largest ever, gathering well over half a million signatures. You can add your name here.

Stonewall meanwhile claimed that a poll they had commissioned from YouGov showed 70% support for same-sex marriage. Although it published no tables with evidence for the assertion, Pink News reported that people were told that "The Government intends to extend the legal form and name of civil marriage to same-sex couples" and asked if they approved. The complexity and ambiguity of the statement, as well as the fact that the polling was carried out at the end of last year -- before the Government launched its consultation, and the ensuing debate -- may explain why the finding directly contradicts a March poll for Catholic Voices for ComRes, which found 70% support for keeping the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

In related news, a same-sex couple has become the first to enter a civil partnership in a place of worship. 


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