Life long mission
The recognition of marriage as a lifelong union is being eroded in the midst of the current debate on same-sex marriage, Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, has said.
Speaking at the trust’s annual conference in central London on 23 June, Mr Wells noted that leading homosexual lobby group Stonewall had plenty to say about long-term relationships in its campaign for same-sex marriage, but nothing about life long relationships.
Mr Wells referenced the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, who had also adopted the language of marriage as a ‘long-term relationship’ rather than a life long union.
She had contended that, ‘Two people who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment to each other should be able to get married whatever their gender or sexuality’.
While not all supporters of same-sex marriage are motivated by a desire to destroy the institution of marriage, Mr Wells observed there are many in the vanguard of the campaign who are consciously seeking to so broaden the definition of marriage that it loses its meaning and ceases to exist as an institution.
He said, ‘Once a word can mean anything, it starts to mean nothing’, and, ‘there are four key elements in the legal definition of marriage: it is voluntary, monogamous, lifelong and heterosexual. All four are fundamental to the character of marriage. While there is no threat to the voluntary nature of marriage, each of the other three elements is at risk.
‘We know from the experience of other countries that once you allow two men or two women to marry, there is pressure to legislate for threesomes, or foursomes, or more-somes.
‘If we’ve already decided marriage no longer has any fixed meaning and we don’t have to be bound by what it has meant historically, why can’t we treat it as a nose of wax and mould it this way and that?’
Mr Wells said that if the heterosexual character of marriage is discarded, the monogamous character of marriage immediately comes under threat, and so, too, does the life long character of marriage.
Later in the day, Harry Benson, communications director of the newly formed Marriage Foundation, presented two striking statistics to the conference that demonstrated the importance of marriage for family stability.
On the one hand, almost half of all new babies in the UK will not grow up with both of their parents, while, on the other, 97 per cent of intact couples with children aged 16 are married, while only 3 per cent are unmarried.
Mr Benson said, ‘It is overwhelmingly the case that the people who stay together are married. Many political figures and sections of the media imagine it is just as possible to have a stable relationship without being married, but in reality it is relatively rare’.
In the final address of the day, Dr Tony Sewell, founder and director of Generating Genius, rejected the notion that poor educational outcomes of black Caribbean boys were due to poverty, teacher racism, the lack of black history or absence of positive role models.
Instead, he blamed a child-centred approach to education, in which direct instruction from teachers was limited and the focus was on pleasing children and promoting their ‘rights’.
Dr Sewell added: ‘Primary schools should not be in the entertainment industry’. He called for a more authoritative, disciplined and teacher-led approach to learning.