A powerful denunciation of David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage is made today by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Carey says the proposal to change the status of marriage “constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history”.
He is backing a new grassroots organisation, the Coalition For Marriage (C4M), which opposes the redefinition of marriage to include same sex couples.
The group is being launched today in response to next month’s publication of a consultation document by the equalities minister, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, on how to introduce same-sex marriage before 2015.
If the law is changed, Britain will become the sixth European country, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Norway, to recognise same-sex marriage.
Yet Downing Street, in a bid to avert a damaging rebellion by the bishops who sit in the House of Lords, has insisted that the gay marriage ceremonies will not be allowed to take place in church.
Mr Cameron is still facing a major revolt by up to 100 Conservative MPs who have threatened to vote against or abstain when the measure, which is backed by Labour and the Lib Dems, comes to the Commons.
The coalition led by Lord Carey, which is backed by Tory MPs, peers and family groups, will warn the Government to leave traditional marriage alone, and says the changes are not wanted by the majority of the population and will require the rewriting of 800 years of legislation. The word “marriage” appears 3 258 times in UK legislation, which underlines the central role the institution plays in our national law.
If the change goes ahead the Government could face legal challenges from the heterosexual community. Ministers have ruled out extending civil partnerships, which became law in December 2005, beyond the gay community.
Even though none of the three main political parties included the proposal in their manifestos at the 2010 election, the legislation could be in the next Queen’s Speech in May.
The Lib Dems backed the idea at their party conference in 2010 and Mr Cameron told last year’s Tory conference: ‘Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’
In his article, Lord Carey says: “Like many others, I was baffled by this statement. Not because I begrudge rights and benefits to homosexual couples. I was baffled because this Government’s proposal constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history.
“The state does not own marriage... The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.”
When civil partnerships were debated in Parliament in 2004 the then Labour government insisted they would have no impact on marriage, which would remain distinct as a relationship between a man and a woman.
Colin Hart, campaign director of C4M, said the proposed upheaval was being driven by the forces of political correctness and a handful of single-issue pressure groups.
He said: “The word marriage is woven into the fabric of our national laws. That can’t be just unpicked in a single stroke.” - Daily Mail