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Right to Redefine by Edwin Atiegoba – Bello

by on April 19, 2012

Listening to the Coalition for Marriage (C4M), you would the think there was an impending ban on marriage between a man and a woman.

The government’s Equal civil marriage consultation makes it absolutely clear, “This consultation is about how the ban can be lifted on same-sex couples having a marriage through a civil ceremony.”

However a discussion on how a minority can be included has been turned into an argument on how the majority will be excluded. According to C4M, “Traditional marriage will be sidelined, careers could be harmed, and couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded.”

There is no evidence of course to prove any of these theories, and C4M do not go into detail about how they arrived at these conclusions. C4M also argue that civil partnerships offer the same legal rights as marriage so therefore there is no need to redefine marriage; which may be a valid point. However they go on to say, “No one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”

The government has decided quite wisely, to steer clear of religious marriage. The consultation paper makes it clear that not only will it not be possible for a same sex couple to get married by a religious institution; a same sex couple cannot get married on religious premises.

This despite the fact that civil partnerships can be conducted on religious premises; provided there is permission from the institution, and that the ceremony is strictly non – religious.

The complexities and potential backlash from trying to redefine marriage in religious context would be enormous in a multi – cultural, multi – faith society.

Civil marriage however, is a different matter. It is administered by the state; and as such is defined as whatever the state defines it to be.

It is not the place of C4M to define marriage for the rest of us.


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