Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:24 pm on 5th February 2013.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 3:24 pm, 5th February 2013

No, I am certainly not. I was delighted to attend my hon. Friend’s wedding. The reason that I have just cited was applicable 351 years ago as well, but the Church of England service still applies.

Children are at the heart of marriage but they are barely mentioned in the Bill. It aims to open up the benefits of marriage to people who are excluded from it at the moment, but it does so at the price of taking away a significant part of the meaning of marriage. Children are the reason that marriage has always been so important. If it was purely about a loving relationship between two people, as the Minister suggested earlier, it would have been much less important than it has actually been. Does that matter? Yes, it does, because it is right for society to recognise—as marriage does—the value to all of us of the contribution of those who bring children into the world and bring them up. That is the ideal that the current definition of marriage reflects, and it would be a mistake to lose the value that that definition places on the creation and bringing up of children. In the end, it will be children who will lose out if we do that.