Hooray! The Tories are backing marriage – but they’re wrong to pretend all relationships are equal | Mail Online

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome on July 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

By Melanie Phillips
Last updated at 8:05 AM on 06th July 2009

The Tories are shortly to unveil a far-reaching policy to put marriage at the heart of family life.

A high-powered team of lawyers commissioned by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice is to issue a report later this month which is expected to shape Conservative policy on the family.

It is said to recommend a sweeping overhaul of the law to strengthen marriage, including moves to make divorce more difficult and promote marriage preparation classes and ‘family relationship centres’, as well as tax breaks for married couples.

Backing marriage: Conservative Party leader David Cameron with his wife Samantha last month

Backing marriage: Conservative Party leader David Cameron with his wife Samantha last month

Condemning the modern mantra that marriage is merely a ‘lifestyle choice’, the report is expected to say that there is overwhelming evidence that marriage brings many benefits to couples, children, the wider family and the nation as a whole.

If the Tory Party accepts these recommendations, it will be an enormous and hugely overdue step in the right direction.

The family is the building block of society. If the institution of the family is broken, society breaks with it.

That is what has happened in Britain over the past four decades as part of a deliberate attempt by the ‘progressive’ intelligentsia to reshape society around the unrestrained gratification of adult sexual desire under the banners of ‘ liberation’, ‘equality’ and ‘rights’.

As a result, nearly half of all babies are now born outside marriage; Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe; and women and children are at far greater risk of sexual and physical abuse.

Children from fractured homes do worse in general in every single area of their lives.

As the High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge recently observed, the family courts are overwhelmed with cases involving damaged, miserable or disturbed children.

Yet for years the evidence of this catastrophe has been swept under the carpet or denied outright by those pushing this agenda.

Anyone who drew attention to it was pilloried as a bigot who wanted to turn back the clock to some mythical ‘golden age’.

Marriage was progressively undermined. With divorce court judges deciding they were no longer prepared to make judgments about who was to blame for the breakdown of a marriage, divorce soared.

All stigma and shame were removed from unmarried motherhood. Cohabitation numbers took off, fuelled by a tax and welfare system which provided incentives for couples to live apart while married couples were penalised.

If the Tories are now really going to tackle all this properly, it would be an act of conspicuous political leadership.

And to his credit, David Cameron has said consistently that he intends to do so.

The problem, however, is that his intention to repair the family is undermined by his support for gay rights.

His apology last week for the Tories’ original support for ‘Clause 28’, the totemic attempt to stop councils from distributing gay propaganda in schools, provoked widespread scorn – not least from many gays who understandably regarded it as patronising and cynically opportunistic.

And it has also promoted a demeaning war of words between Labour and the Tories about whose agenda is more ‘pink’ than the other.

The far more serious point, however, is that the gay rights agenda undermines marriage.

The Tories insist that this is not so and that the two sit happily together. Promoting gay rights, they say, is merely about ending intolerance. It is irrelevant to family breakdown, which is a heterosexual problem.

Undoubtedly, the overwhelming reason is the collapse of constraints on heterosexual behaviour. But it is surely wrong to deny any connection.

The key point is the difference between homosexuals as individuals and the ‘gay rights’ lobby.

A liberal society should be tolerant of gay people. It is good that social attitudes are now far more relaxed. People’s sexuality should be an entirely private matter and should not be the cause of prejudice or, worse still, aggression towards homosexuals.

But is the gay rights agenda really about tolerance, or is it about trying to stop heterosexuality being the behavioural norm?

Because it entails treating gay relationships as identical to heterosexual ones in every respect, any differences – over marriage or adoption, for example – are damned as discrimination and bigotry.

As a result, what started as a decent intention to eradicate intolerance has turned into intolerance as morality has been stood on its head.

Thus opposing gay adoption on the grounds that children need a replica mother and father is denounced as ‘homophobic’.

But hasn’t that been precisely the problem which the Tories are now – to their credit – trying to address in heterosexual family life, that children do need a mother and father and that family life has been wrecked by those who strenuously pretend otherwise?

Gay rights activists claim that ‘lifestyle choice’ means gay relationships should be treated identically to heterosexual ones.

But the core reason for family breakdown is precisely the view that marriage is merely a ‘ relationship’ for people to choose or not from a menu of alternative lifestyles.

However, marriage is not a ‘relationship’ but a unique institution for safeguarding the upbringing of children.

It has to be protected in turn by a web of law and custom, tradition and attitudes. That web has been destroyed by the ‘all lifestyles are equal’ doctrine.

The collapse of sexual norms has destroyed the bulwarks around marriage. And the gay rights agenda is very much part of that process.

What is particularly worrying, moreover, is that any attempt to say so is demonised as ‘homophobic’. As a result, traditional Christians are now being discriminated against.

At the weekend the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, called upon homosexuals to ‘repent and be changed’, which drew the immediate charge that he was promoting intolerance.

But since Christianity holds that sexual relations should be restricted to a man and a woman inside marriage, aren’t those who want to stop Christians upholding their own doctrine displaying intolerance?

It is heartening that real prejudice against gays is now so much less than it was. But how sad that gay activists are now perpetrating a mirror image of the intolerance once shown to them.

Shouldn’t the Tories be defending Christians, the bedrock faith beneath the values of this country, against such bullying?

It will take great courage to tackle the causes of family breakdown. Even now, the progressive establishment is determined to bury the truth.

A two-part programme for the BBC by the respected journalist John Ware about ‘The Death Of Respect’, which identifies family breakdown as an important reason for the rise of aggression, incivility and crime, has been moved by channel controllers from a prime 9pm slot to the ‘graveyard’ 11.20pm time because it is considered to be ‘too dark’.

The real reason is surely that its message runs counter to the libertine ‘group-think’ of progressive opinion.

That’s why such circles will try to paint the Tories as heartless and bigoted over their attempt to promote marriage.

David Cameron should hurl that insult straight back. It’s those who have destroyed marriage and with it the lifechances of countless children, not to mention the health and welfare of abandoned women and men, who are the truly heartless and bigoted.

The Tories are showing courage on marriage. They must be careful this doesn’t turn into incoherence.

Hooray! The Tories are backing marriage – but they’re wrong to pretend all relationships are equal | Mail Online.

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