The lingering stench of gay ‘marriage’

I am under no illusions about winning a popularity contests among the chattering classes on this one. It's much easier to swim with the progressive tide. And I know I'm fighting a losing battle too, because almost every outlet, especially the BBC, is obviously in favour of gay marriage. But I though it was worth restating my position again, so I went on Newsnight last night to explain why gay marriage is such a bad idea.

People are rightly uneasy about something as fundamental as marriage being redefined by politicians, none of whom put this in their manifestoes, when public opinion is so split on the issue. Some polls have the public as much as 88% against redefining the institution.

The legal ramifications are very complicated. If this were just about inventing civil gay marriages it wouldn't be so much of a problem. But as soon as this hits the statute book, people are going to invoke human rights legislation to force churches to allow gay marriages on their premises. There is not the remotest possibility that, for example, the Catholic Church will allow this. This will turn gay marriage into a battlefield.

What you'll get is a series of messy test cases that cannot be amicably resolved, particularly in the case of, say, Islamic mosques, which I cannot imagine being comfortable with gay marriage either (to put it mildly). No Imam or Catholic priest is going to preside over a gay wedding. Any priest who did it would be automatically excommunicated – and so would the couple – because they are parodying the sacrament of marriage. So the Catholic Church will either shut up shop and padlock its churches or simply refuse to conduct marriages at all.

Before you get too gleeful about that possibility, think on the millions of people in this country of all faiths who will then be denied the religious service they want.

Civil partnerships worked smoothly precisely because they didn't tread on the toes of religion. It's a formulation that dodges the need to have the theological discussion at all, because it does not use any hot button vocabulary. The Anglican Church seems not to have a problem with civil partnerships and Catholic clergy generally sidestep the issue.

But once the horror of human rights law starts demanding that gay marriages should take place on consecrated ground, we will find ourselves trapped in a nasty war that neither side can win.

In countries that have taken the final step to institute gay marriage, it has been nothing but contentious. This isn't a fashionable thing to say, but gay marriage has set back relations between gays and straights. It's worth mentioning that totally gay-friendly people like James Delingpole are against gay marriage.

And as for the Government, they call it a consultation, but no one has been consulted, via the ballot box or elsewhere, and the decision has been made already without the usual White and Green Papers being prepared. The churches haven't even been given the opportunity to oppose this at an election. Instead, they're being fed the lie that this is just a civil arrangement and they won't be forced to do anything.

That's not how the law works - particularly human rights law, which in the hands of activist judges tramples into every corner of our lives, often with pretty horrendous results.

As for Cameron's line about doing this "because" he's a Conservative? Give me a break. He wants the chattering classes off his back. He's doing it because he quite likes being Prime Minister, as I’ve written in this column before.

There are Tory MPs who have gone through gay wedding ceremonies abroad – I know the name of at least one – who haven't got the guts to come out in the open about it, perhaps because it's politically inconvenient or maybe because they too realise that this would not be a healthy development for British society.

I wonder what they say privately about all of this.

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