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

I am not saying either of those things; I am simply making the point that it remains the ideal for the two parents who together created a child to bring up that child.

Legal equality was delivered, quite rightly, by the introduction of civil partnerships, and if there are weaknesses in those arrangements, they should be put right. In particular, I see no problem with same-sex unions being celebrated in places of worship where congregations want to do so. A same-sex couple can have the same wish to affirm and to have affirmed a lifelong exclusive commitment as a man and a woman getting married, and we should value that and be willing to recognise and celebrate it. This Bill, however, affirms not that same-sex unions are equal with marriages, but rather that they are the same as marriages, when in reality they are not: they are different. I think we will be poorer if we adopt a watered-down definition of marriage based on two aims from the Church of England’s list instead of all three.