Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:51 pm on 5th February 2013.

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Photo of Rob Flello Rob Flello Shadow Minister (Justice) 1:51 pm, 5th February 2013

I am deeply saddened by the divisions and upset that this issue has caused to people on both sides of the argument. Sadly, in some quarters the divisions arise because the debate has been characterised as bigoted religion on the one hand versus equality on the other. Neither of those is true. True Christians are not bigoted, and this is not a matter of equality, no matter how often it is referred to as equal marriage. Some of the divisions arise from the campaign to steer people into thinking that marriage is simply about love and commitment. It could also be said that the Bill falls foul of Parliament’s convention of not legislating retrospectively, because changing the fundamental nature of marriage will affect existing marriages.

Under the law as it stands, as tested in the European Court of Human Rights, civil partnerships are equal to marriage. They might not have the same name, but they are equal. It has been argued that society views marriage and civil partnerships as being different and that same-sex couples feel that their relationship is not valued by society in the same way as is marriage. However, it is not even 10 years since civil partnerships were created, and already society has moved ahead in its appreciation of the commitment that those formal partnerships demonstrate.