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‘Paving the Way For Polygamy’

  • Gay marriage could lead to sibling weddings and multiple spouses, former Archbishop of Canterbury warns
  • Lord Carey says procreation is essential to marriage: homosexual love is not enough
  • But same-sex unions are nothing new and have been around for millennia, anthropologist argues
  • Supporters and opponents brought head to head in new Civitas collection

Legalising gay marriage will pave the way for polygamy and even siblings getting wed, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey warns in a new book.

The peer says that the ground-breaking move will lead to demands for multiple-spouse marriages and weddings between cohabiting sisters.

Lord Carey, who will lead the fightback against gay marriage in the House of Lords next week, argues that homosexual love and commitment are not enough to warrant marriage – because there is no natural possibility of children.

His hard-hitting intervention comes in a wide-ranging collection of views on the subject of same-sex marriage published by the independent think tank Civitas.

Pitted against Lord Carey’s stance in The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same-Sex Marriage are leading supporters of the move including Culture Secretary Maria Miller, human rights activist Peter Tatchell, Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill and Conor Marron, of the Coalition for Equal Marriage.

In an article entitled ‘Love Is Not Enough’, Lord Carey insists “not all relationships are the same” and that without the possibility of procreation the institution of marriage will be “diminished” and “emptied of its meaning”, with “grave implications” for the family unit.

“Once we let go of the exclusivity of a one man-one woman relationship with procreation linking the generations, then why stop there?

“If it is ‘about love and commitment’ then it is entirely logical to extend marriage to, say, two sisters bringing up children together.

“If it is merely ‘about love and commitment’ then there is nothing illogical about multiple relationships, such as two women and one man.”

He also hits out at the Government, saying it has no moral or democratic right to legalise gay marriage, and describes the legislation as “hasty and ill-considered”.

Lord Carey’s onslaught is echoed by further contributions from Austen Ivereigh, director of Catholic Voices, Brenda Almond, Emeritus Professor of Moral and Social Philosophy at Hull University, and Brendan O’Neill, editor of spiked.

Bringing together the voices of the central players in the debate, The Meaning of Matrimony presents for the first time in one definitive collection the arguments for and against gay marriage.

The contributors consider whether the Government’s legislation for same-sex marriage is liberal or illiberal; whether marriage should embody ‘tradition’ or social change; who speaks for the support and opposition of same-sex marriage; and importantly, the function marriage performs in society.

In seeking to address whether the legislation currently before Parliament will be for better or for worse, two leading academics bring unique insights to the row:

  • There are no grounds for the churches and faith groups to raise concerns about having to marry same-sex couples. Nicola Barker, a senior lecturer in law at Kent University, says there is no convincing case that the so-called “quadruple-lock” could be overturned by a legal challenge before the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Same-sex unions are nothing new and have existed in many different civilisations across the millennia. Roger Lancaster, professor of anthropology at George Mason University, says wedding vows actually derive from early Greek Christian same-sex commitment ceremonies, so “same-sex relationships were the very models of ideal heterosexual marriages”.

In an afterword, the book’s editor and Civitas deputy director Anastasia de Waal – a strong supporter of gay marriage – warns that there has been too little discussion and debate about the issues at stake in this most polarising of issues.

She wonders how far Britain has come in terms of embracing homosexuality rather than merely tolerating it.

“Might it be the case that while there is little unease with a legal recognition of homosexual partnerships, as well as homosexuality itself, a bigger section of society than we are willing to recognise want to stop short of bringing these under the auspices of ‘ideal’ relationships? In particular, ideal relationships within which to raise children.

“Ultimately, the question to ask is: how far along the trajectory away from homophobia – bearing in mind its literal meaning of a fear of homosexuality – have we come as a society? We may not be a nation of ‘homophobes’, but can we claim to be a nation of ‘homophiles’?”



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