On Tuesday, the UK Parliament voted for same-sex marriage, with a count of 400 for the legislation and only 175 against. There are still a number of votes to be held before it becomes law.
Debate was strong in the House, with most MPs in favour of the legislation stating it was about equality, while most of those in opposition spoke about marriage being between a man and a woman, and that it is unable to be redefined to mean anything else. Roger Gale, a Tory MP was very clear about why the legislation could not be passed, saying:
“It is not possible to redefine marriage. Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any Government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.”
There are deep concerns by the Catholic Church about the same-sex marriage bill and the implications it will have on the Church’s ability to conduct marriage ceremonies recognised by the State. If this Bill were to pass, the Church is concerned for religious liberty. Bishop Philip Egan said:
“Just as the Church has been forced to abandon its adoption services, so too Catholics who work in the medical profession and in social services are going to find themselves under intolerable moral pressures. These pressures will also arguably be felt throughout our Catholic schools, by teachers, staff and parents.”
The UK Catholic Bishops are so concerned about this proposed legislation, they have been trying to mobilise the laity into speaking up against same-sex marriage. In the past few weeks they have distributed one million postcards for the laity to send to their local MPs asking them to vote against the Bill.
Meanwhile the French National Assembly also voted in favour of legislation which will legalise same-sex marriage and allow for gay adoption. The vote taken on Saturday was 249-97. It looks certain that this legislation will come into law in France, despite the protests of many of its citizens who have been very vocal about their opposition to the redefinition of marriage and gay adoption.
New Zealand’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill is currently before the Select Committee, who are hearing oral submissions throughout the country. Over 2,000 written submissions can be read online. There has been some disappointment, and even outrage, over the fact that many people who have requested to give an oral submission have not been given the opportunity to do so. It also appears that the Select Committee are in favour of the legislation and have been somewhat hostile to many submitters who are opposed to the legislation. The Select Committee must present their report on the 28th February.