I rise to oppose the legislation presented by Her Majesty’s Government involving the redefinition of marriage. I know that many people inside and outside the House have desired a slanging match across and around the Chamber, but I feel that the issue we are discussing merits an honourable and considered debate. There are long-lasting implications for the nation, which will be felt when many Members of the House of Commons are no longer here.
I trust that the Bill’s supporters appreciate that those who oppose it do so because of genuinely held beliefs and convictions, many of which were taught to them at their mother’s knee. Most people, even to this day, regard the United Kingdom as a Christian country. To some that is an embarrassment, while others thank God that our nation still has some gospel light and enjoys freedom of thought and speech. Each day, hon. Members gather in this Chamber to hear the Scriptures read and prayer offered to God, humbly asking for God’s blessing upon our Queen, her Government and our deliberations. We as leaders among our people still acknowledge God’s sovereign throne, the authority of His revered word and our need for wisdom far greater than our own. Sadly, after doing so today, we are turning from the teachings of that same book, and placing our wisdom and knowledge above divine wisdom.
It is true to say that to mention Scriptures in debate in this Chamber often brings scorn, laughter, mockery, isolation and intolerance, but Scripture reminds us that God said it was not good that man should be alone, so he brought Eve unto Adam. For thousands of years, in almost all cultures, marriage has been defined to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman. Marriage is an institution given by God for the good of all mankind in every age and has been the bedrock institution of family and society, but today our Government intend to sweep away a definition that has served our nation well for centuries and to impose new standards and values on the whole of society, irrespective of religious beliefs or personal convictions. Surely religious liberty and freedom of conscience are not to be cast aside on a whim, simply because political parties perceive that by doing so they will get some electoral advantage?
Recently we have witnessed people throughout the United Kingdom experiencing persecution for freely expressing support for traditional marriage. We had a debate in this House last week in which Mr Leigh mentioned Adrian Smith and Lillian Ladele, and we should not forget Arthur McGeorge, Dr Angela McCaskill, Dr Bill Beales, and Peter and Hazel Bull. Many of those people faced or endured suspension from their job, dramatic loss of earnings, demotion, disciplinary action and court hearings simply because they dared to express their belief in traditional marriage. Redefining marriage will have serious consequences, far beyond those intended by the Bill.