An Open Letter to Maria Miller MP, Minister for Women and Equalities
Dear Mrs Miller,
Firstly, congratulations on your promotion to Culture Secretary and Minister of State of Women and Equalities. One notes that the Deputy Prime Minister refers to Jo Swinson MP as ‘our’ Equalities Minister, and that Helen Grant MP also appears also to have some responsibility for Women and Equalities, so it is heartening that so many fair-minded women are working toward equality for all.
You will be aware that last week the Deputy Prime Minister made known his real attitude toward those – including very many Conservative Party members and supporters – who oppose the Government’s plans to redefine marriage. We are ‘bigots’, he was due to say, until it became apparent that it’s rather a disdainful, intolerant and illiberal, not to say ‘bigoted’ attitude for any politician to hold.
Many of us who believe in traditional marriage (i.e., as a union of one man and one woman) do so for honourable and sincere reasons. We believe that the planned redefinition raises profound issues relating to civil liberties and conscience, and that the policy – which did not appear in any party's manifesto on the run-up to the 2010 General Election – deserves a mature and considered debate.
A summary of the legal opinion of Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer, raises a number of scenarios which could (and undoubtedly will) arise should the proposed redefinition become law. There would be serious implications for the Established Church of England, NHS chaplains, teachers, sex education, parents, faith schools, foster parents, public facilities, marriage registrars, and a push for religious gay weddings, whatever exemptions may be specified by statute. A summary of Aidan O’Neill’s opinion may found HERE.
In this context, your own Out4Marriage video is concerning on a number of levels, not least of which is your fervent support for the change, the implication of which is that the redefinition of marriage will be included in the Queen’s Speech in May 2013.
It is evident that supporters of equal marriage have already been leaked information relating to the Government’s ‘consultation’, and that both sides are not therefore being treated equally. This may well have resulted in a response which is heavily weighted against sustaining the conservative view of marriage because there were no safeguards against multiple submissions, or against submissions from unconnected persons overseas. It was, in short, a profoundly flawed methodology for data-gathering.
But even more concerning is that you yourself appear to pre-empt the findings of this ‘consultation’, establishing precisely what many of us suspected and wrote at the time – namely, that it was not a consultation at all: the Prime Minister had already determined to introduce same-sex marriage ‘because he is a Conservative’.
The ‘consultation’ was concerned exclusively with the staggeringly narrow but politically expedient ‘how’, rather than the socially responsible and morally imperative ‘if’. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the previous Equalities Minister and sundry other senior political figures are all known to be in favour of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, and have made their views known. A consultation which does not consult is nothing but a façade of democracy.
You acknowledge in your video that ‘equal civil marriage is something that people feel very strongly about’ but the rest of that sentence is a non-sequitur, for that is not the reason you undertook the consultation. Those who ‘feel very strongly’ opposed were completely sidelined: the policy was fixed.
You say that you are ‘looking at those submissions very carefully indeed’, but follow this with a slap in the face to millions of people – of all faiths and none – who oppose your plans. You say: “But there’s one thing that I and the Government know is the importance of marriage and the value that it brings to our society, whether that’s a marriage between a man and a woman, two men or two women. Marriage should be for everyone, and the measures that we’ve brought forward to make sure that marriage is open to all couples will help make sure that marriage is strengthened in our society and more relevant than ever.”
To say in one breath that you are ‘looking at those submissions very carefully indeed’, and then to disclose, on behalf of the Government, that marriage has already been redefined to include ‘two men or two women’, makes manifest the level of manipulation and deception of this ‘consultation’. You are not looking at opposing submissions ‘very carefully’ at all: far greater care is attached to those who favour the change.
Doubtless a large number of members of the public are apathetic concerning the proposed redefinition as they do not consider that it affects them. In the light of Aidan O’Neill’s legal advice, it is evident that it will affect society profoundly, with implications for everyone.
Sadly, the Government’s attitude toward Christians in this matter appears to be the same as that of the Chief Whip toward the police, the only difference being that Andrew Mitchell says it to their face.