Opposing Same Sex “Marriage”
Below is the speech delivered by TUV leader Jim Allister during the debate today on the oxymoron which is Same Sex “Marriage”.
I reject the motion. This is not an issue of equality; it is an issue of the perversion of marriage. Historically, for a very good reason, marriage has long been defined as the union of one man and one woman. Any society should be slow to tinker with or alter a bedrock of society that has served it so well, none more so than respect for marriage. Some have said — indeed, I heard Mr McKay say so — that as legislators, we have to represent everyone. Without apology, I am here today to represent in this debate those who say that they stand by the traditional values, standards and definition of marriage. I do not and will not represent a contrary cause in the House.
There is a question as to whether any legislator should properly have regard to societal and moral norms. Is that outside the ambit that we should be considering? I am quite clear that it is something that we should most assuredly be considering, because the society that loses hold of its norms and its morals is a society that just keeps spiralling downwards. Reference has already been made to some of the social consequences of a society losing sight of its moral attachments.
Some say it is a human rights issue. It is not a human rights issue. It has long been established in human rights jurisprudence that there is no right to same-sex marriage under the European Convention on Human Rights in any state that has our definition of marriage. However, it would become a human rights issue if we were so foolish as to change the definition of marriage, because those who qualify outside the traditional definition of marriage would then be able to claim discrimination and say that they were being discriminated against by religious institutions.
It would quickly become a human rights issue, and the bulwark that Ms Lo described article 9 of the convention as being would very soon melt away. That is because, in those circumstances, it would be only a competing interest in a balancing exercise to be conducted by the court. So, it would not be the bulwark.
Just as civil partnership was the slippery slope to this proposition of marriage, let us remember that the proponents of civil partnership told us all that they were not interested in moving to full marriage. Those who were not deceived by that can see exactly where the intent was. Now, of course, the next step is into so-called gay adoption, and on and on it goes. Marriage is one of the institutions that holds society together, and I say to this House that we should be very slow indeed to loosen the grip of that binding moral.
I will give way to Mr McDevitt.
Mr McDevitt: I thank Mr Allister for giving way. I take him back to his earlier assertion that he has come here to defend "the traditional values" of marriage — not the conditions or the context of marriage, but the values. I presume that those are values such as love, interdependence and solidarity. Can Mr Allister tell this House how those values are not present in a same-sex relationship? How are those values absent, specifically, from a same-sex relationship?
Mr Allister: The Member mentioned some of those values, such as love and companionship. He did not mention providing a context for the rearing of children. Marriage, of course, was instituted for that very purpose. That is where there is no equality between the man and the woman who want to get married to raise a family and the man and the man who want to get married for whatever reason. There is no equality whatever between those two situations, and nor can there be.
The logic of the Member's position, if we are heading down the road of saying that we can tinker with or change the basic concept of marriage from being the union between one man and one woman, as I put it to the Member, we are headed down the road where there is no justifiable reason, in your logic and in that of those who proposed the motion, to resist polygamy.
If a man says, "I am in love with a man", you say, therefore, that he must be entitled to marry. If a man says, "I am in love with two women", according to your equality charter, it is his right to say that he must be entitled to marry. Of course, this House would recoil from that. Why? That is because, in all this, there is quite properly, even yet, a recognition that there is a moral standard that has to be upheld.
The same moral standard prohibits loosening at all the grip on the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman and there it should stay.