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Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages in the UK

2011 to 2013-MAY: Public opinion polls.
2013-JUN: Wrecking amendments proposed.
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This is a continuation from an earlier essay.

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In this web site, the term "SSM" means "same-sex marriage."

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2011-NOV to 2013-MAY: What do the polls show about public opinion?

  • 2011-NOV-29: A poll conducted by polling agency You Gov among 2,074 adults in England, Scotland and Wales on behalf of Stonewall, a pro-marriage equality group, showed:
    • Among "people of faith," 58% supported Government plans to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples.
    • Among the general population, 71% supported SSM.
    • 71% support allowing religious institutions to conduct same-sex marriage if they wish to do so.
    • The margin of error is approximately ±2.1 percentage points. 1

  • 2012-MAR-10/11: A Populus Poll asked 1,000 randomly selected adults whether: "Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships." Results showed that by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, the public supports SSM:
    • 65% support SSM;
    • 27% disagreed with SSM;
    • 8% didn't know or did not answer.
    • The margin of error is approximately ±3.2 percentage points. 2

  • 2013-MAY-10: A YouGov/Sunday Times poll among 1,945 adults showed:
    • 53% support SSM
    • 36% oppose SSM
    • 11% didn't know or did not answer.
    • The margin of error is approximately ±2.2 percentage points. 3

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2013-JUN-12 (approx): Lord Dear tables amendment:

During the week of JUN-02, Matthew Sephton, the chairman of LGBTory, suggested:

"Once committee and report stages take place in the Upper House, any number of amendments could potentially be tabled – some helpful and constructive, but some designed solely to try to at least undermine or at most derail this bill."

It appears that his prediction is coming true. With the overwhelming support for the bill in the second reading vote, it has become obvious that the bill is almost certain to pass. Some of the Lords who oppose the bill are now tabling amendments in order to weaken it. The latter are being referred to as "wrecking amendments."

Lord Dear has proposed the following amendment:

"Protecting belief in traditional marriage:

Any person, in exercising functions under or in consequence of this Act shall have regard to the following —

(a)   that prior to the coming into force of this Act, marriage was the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others (“traditional marriage”);

(b)   that belief in traditional marriage is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society;

(c)   that no person should suffer any detriment because of their belief in traditional marriage."

Section (a) is a simple statement of fact. However section (b) and (c) raises some concerns. According to recent polls, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is regarded as a form of undesirable discrimination by most adults in England and Wales. Over time, this belief is expected to become nearly universal. One might question whether the belief that same-sex couples should be excluded from marriage is "worthy of respect." In the U.S., the belief that interracial couples should not be allowed to marry was once general, but is now viewed as racial bigotry by most people.

Speech is protected in England and Wales almost to the extent that it is in the U.S. Certainly, the right to hold and expressed such discriminatory beliefs should be respected. But one might ask whether the belief that a minority of people should be excluded from such a fundamental right as the right to marry the person that one loves and to whom they are committed for a lifetime should be respected. Evelyn Beatrice Hall's statement: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" 4 -- a saying often misattributed to Voltaire -- comes to mind.

We are unaware of anyone who has suffered a detriment because of their belief in excluding same-sex couples from marriage. Some American self-employed individuals and companies in the marriage business -- like florists, wedding planners, wedding photographers, etc. have run afoul of human rights legislation and been required to pay fines, but that was based on their discriminatory actions against same-sex couples, not their beliefs about same-sex couples. 5

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2013-JUN-13: Lord Hylton tables amendment:

During the bill's second reading, Lord Hylton objected to the use of the word "gay" to refer to lesbians, gays and sometimes bisexuals. He said:

"I regret very much that the fine old English and French word ‘gay’ has, in my lifetime, been appropriated by a small but vocal minority of the population. 6

His amendment is simple: In page 1 of the bill, the word "Marriage" is to be deleted and replaced with the word "Union." That would make marriages between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples unequal. His suggestion seems to have come from the laws in a few U.S. states where same-sex couples cannot marry and thus call their relationship a marriage; they are only allowed to enter a civil union where they can refer to each other as mere partners.

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2013-JUN-13: Lord Mawhinney tables amendment:

Earlier in June, Lord Mawhinney said:

"For 40 years my life has been driven by my Christian and Conservative convictions. And now I am led to believe that because I have continued to hold those values and principles I’m a swivel-eyed loon."

“Well, I want to raise a flag for swivel-eyed loons because at the very heart of the country and our party is a commitment to values and principles that are time-tested.”

His amendment states:

"It shall be lawful to refer to marriage between two people of the opposite sex as 'traditional marriage' and it shall be lawful to refer to marriage between two people of the same sex as 'same-sex marriage'."

Perhaps we misunderstand the meaning of the term "lawful" in England and Wales. But it seems to us that the opposite of "lawful" is "unlawful" or "illegal." With freedom of speech laws and traditions in the UK, the amendment appears to be redundant.

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2013-JUN-14 (approx.): Lord Carey tables amendment:

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, ha tabled an amendment to create a two tiered marriage system. He proposes that the term "traditional marriage" be reserved for married opposite-sex couples. The amendment clause would read:

"Nothing in this Act could take away the right of a man and woman to enter a traditional marriage. ... A ‘traditional marriage’ is one where the basis of the marriage is the voluntary union of one man and one woman for life, to the exclusion of all others."

The amendment does not suggest a similar label for married same-sex couples. "marriage lite" and "quasi-marriage" come to mind. 7

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. " 'Living Together' British attitudes to lesbian, gay and bisexual people in 2012," Stonewall http://www.stonewall.org.uk This is a PDF file.
  2. Stephen Gray, "Poll: 65 percent of British agree gays should have equal right to marry," Pink News, 2012-MAR-15, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  3. "YouGov / Sunday Times Survey Results," 2013-MAY-12, at: http://cdn.yougov.com This is a PDF file.
  4. "Evelyn Beatrice Hall," Wikipedia, as on 2013-MAY-28, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  5. Scott Roberts, "Lord Dear proposes new amendment to equal marriage bill concerning ‘traditional marriage’," Pink News, 2013-JUN-12, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  6. Lord Hulton, "Lord Hylton tables new wrecking amendment for the equal marriage bill," Pink New, 2013-JUN-13, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  7. Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Lord Carey tables amendment to undermine equal marriage bill by calling for ‘two tiered’ marriage," Pink News, 2013-JUN-14, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/

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 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > UK > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-JUN-01
Latest update: 2013-JUL-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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