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Peter Bone MP: Redefining marriage threatens the liberties of Christians, teachers and parents

Bone PeterIn today's Sunday Telegraph Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, poured scorn on Coalition plans to introduce gay marriage. Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, joins the debate in this article - agreeing with the 97,129 people who (at the time of blogging) have signed the one man, one woman equals marriage petition.

Later this month Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister will announce a consultation to redefine traditional marriage to allow gay marriage.

To many this might seem like a trivial matter, indeed since the introduction of Civil Partnerships in 2004 same sex couple already enjoy the same rights that married couple do.

So why are so many people concerned about this change, well, firstly there is a democratic deficit. This change was not in my own party’s manifesto, or indeed in Labour’s or the Lib Dems and the proposed consultation, will be about how to make the change, not if.

Then there are the dozens of questions, which despite being asked continue to go unanswered. It’s as if those centred around the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister believe that redefining marriage is a simple task, one that can be done at the stroke of a pen - It cannot be.

The institution of marriage is woven into the fabric of our nation - it affects our courts, inheritance rights and even our schools.

And it is the effect on our schools, children and teachers that is worrying so many.

Section 403 of the Education Act 1996 places a legal requirement on schools to teach children about “the importance of marriage”.

If marriage is redefined, schools will have no choice but to give children equivalent teaching on same sex marriage, even those children of a very young age, including those at primary school.

So what will happen to parents who because of religious, or philosophical beliefs take their children out of lessons?

It is simply inconceivable in today’s world where political correctness runs a mock in our institutions, that there would not be profound consequences for those who hold traditional views.

Parents who object will be treated as bigots and outcasts, possibly excluded from being on the PTA, or from being a governor. Discriminated against and persecuted because they hold views that have been enshrined in our laws and have been the cornerstone of our society for two thousand years.

And what of the teachers who object to teaching about same sex marriage. Will they face disciplinary action? How will it affect their careers?

Will same sex marriage be covered under such subjects as citizenship forming part of the main curriculum taught to our children and tested through examination?

These are just some of the questions that the Government has so far failed to answer.

Now there are those who will say that this might sound far-fetched, but as we have already seen those who stand up for traditional marriage have been subjected to disciplinary action at work, racist emails, intimidation and even death threats.

I read with horror about that the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, has received such threats for simply stating his beliefs. Or another example would be my colleague David Burrowes, a kind man and a great MP, who after he said he was opposed to the redefinition of marriage received death threats.

And it is this sort of intolerance that will guarantee that if marriage is redefined then a whole new group of people, parents, children and teachers will find themselves on the wrong side of law. Marginalised and sneered at by a minority liberal elite, who are happy to junk hundreds of years of law for the sake of being seen as progressive and modern.


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