GOSPORT MP Caroline Dinenage has criticised the same-sex marriage bill ahead of a vote in Parliament tomorrow.
In a letter to a constituent Ms Dinenage said: ‘the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning.’
It comes as MPs will vote tomorrow on the same-sex marriage bill, which if passed would allow same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales.
A religious group would need to give formal consent to carry out a same-sex marriage ceremony.
Speaking to The News Ms Dinenage said she agreed with elements of the bill but said it had been rushed.
She said: ‘I can see some of the points in it but it’s more the actual way the bill is written.
‘I think it’s written in a hurried and ill-thought out way and we haven’t really looked at what the potential long term consequences are, particularly given that there is a quadruple lock on the Church of England but there isn’t that sort of protection for other faiths.
‘I’m concerned that in the future teachers may be forced to teach civil partnership and gay marriage whether it’s in their religious belief to do so or not.
‘It seems that in some ways we’re marginalising some people’s religious freedom in favour of sexual freedom.’
‘It’s up to the state to protect people to make sure they’re not discriminated against and that they’re not in any way disadvantaged because of their sexuality but I don’t think it should be dictating to religious groups what their definition of marriage is.’
Culture secretary Maria Miller MP has announced a ‘quadruple lock’, to protect religious groups.
It means if passed the bill would need religious groups to opt-in to conduct same-sex marriages, with changes made to the 2010 Equality Act to prevent discrimination claims against those who refuse to carry out the ceremonies.
It would also require new legislation to allow the Church of England to conduct them and prevent religious groups and their ministers from conducting the ceremonies without their governing body’s permission.
The letter from Ms Dinenage in full: ‘I believe that the degree to which someone practices their faith is a deeply personal matter.
‘While I am in no position to question the strength of an individual’s beliefs, it is important to understand that the Church of England is the established Church in this country and the relationship between Church and State is a key part of the constitutional framework that has evolved over centuries.
‘As you may know, as the established Church, its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land and one of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of “one man and one woman.
‘I therefore believe that the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning – these proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.
‘As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this.
‘Preventing same-sex couples from being allowed to ‘marry’ takes nothing away from their relationship.
‘With regard to your concerns about solemnisation, the Church of England, Roman Catholics along with other denominations, already voiced their opposition to same-sex marriage, therefore the government’s proposals have simply provided the legal framework for the C of E to enforce their position without fear of prosecution.’