Yesterday morning I posted the following letter to Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, in response to his detailed statement of support for same-sex "marriage" which I published in my previous post.
I felt it was important to keep to one side of A4. Within this constraint, I may have omitted things you would have included. I may also have said things you would not have said. If there are any points I have missed, I trust that others will have included them in their own letters, thus ensuring that everything that matters has been covered.
Access to marriage by same-sex couples
Thank you for your courteous and detailed letter setting out your views on same-sex marriage.
I understand that in English law there is no distinction between civil and religious marriage, provided the legalities are complied with. My letter proceeds on that understanding.
Having studied your letter, including its theme of equality of love, I have to say that the opposition to the proposed legislation is based on the actual nature of marriage. At the core of marriage is the act of sexual intercourse. Whether or not it results in the conception of a child, it makes the marriage real in a way that the ceremony alone does not. In its absence, the marriage can be declared invalid. Since couples of the same sex are physically incapable of this act, they cannot accomplish this essential element of marriage.
Given that consummation by sexual intercourse is inherent to marriage, if Parliament legislates to remove this requirement, the words of removal can logically have no basis in reality, if marriage is to remain marriage. Or else, they will have the effect of abolishing marriage as we have known it up to the present time, for all citizens, including the heterosexual majority. Marriage will be replaced by an institution which the law calls marriage but is not marriage. I have no doubt that others will explain this more fully to you and your fellow MPs.
Your letter includes a number of supportive views expressed by various clergy and laypeople. In contrast to these personal opinions must be placed the orthodox teachings of the major religions. Whatever the civil law may state, these organisations will require their clergy and teachers to inform their congregations and their school-pupils, not merely that “our religion teaches this, and others believe that”, in a morally equivalent and neutral manner. They will be obliged to explain, with reasons, that “our religion’s teaching is true; the law of the land is based on an erroneous understanding; and same-sex marriage is not in fact marriage.” This firm stand will be shared by many other citizens in the general community, who will continue to give witness to what they steadfastly believe to be unchangeable.
I have mentioned just a few points in this letter. I urge you to consider that there are other factors to be taken into account, other implications, unforeseen consequences and unintended ramifications, before you commit yourself to voting in favour of same-sex marriage.