Newham vs Newham

6 Feb
Newham_vs_newham

Yesterday’s debate in parliament about marriage equality included the following exchange between Newham’s two MPs, who are on different sides of the argument:

Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab):

The Church of England was the custodian of marriage in Britain for hundreds of years. For many people, it still is.

The 1662 version of the Church of England service, which has been in use for the past 350 years, sets out three reasons for marriage. The first is that it was “ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord”.

The central problem with the Bill is that it introduces a definition of marriage that includes the second and third reasons but drops that first one. The result is something that is a good deal weaker than the original.

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab):

My right hon. Friend was at my wedding. I was not young when I got married, and unless I had been blessed like Elizabeth, it was highly unlikely that I was going to be able to procreate after all that time. Is he telling me that my marriage is less valid than anybody else’s?

Stephen Timms:

No, I am certainly not. I was delighted to attend my hon. Friend’s wedding. The reason that I have just cited was applicable 351 years ago as well, but the Church of England service still applies.

Children are at the heart of marriage but they are barely mentioned in the Bill. It aims to open up the benefits of marriage to people who are excluded from it at the moment, but it does so at the price of taking away a significant part of the meaning of marriage. Children are the reason that marriage has always been so important… it is right for society to recognise—as marriage does—the value to all of us of the contribution of those who bring children into the world and bring them up. That is the ideal that the current definition of marriage reflects, and it would be a mistake to lose the value that that definition places on the creation and bringing up of children.

Like Lyn Brown, I am married but childless. And I am pleased that she stood up to Timms on behalf of all of us in that happy condition.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: