Upcoming plans to legalise marriage equality have come under fire from a High Court judge, who said that the government should focus on the “crisis of family breakdown”.
Sir Paul Coleridge, said that ministers should focus on supporting married couples, rather than the “wrong policy” of equal marriage, which he said only affects “0.1” of the population, reports the Times.
The High Court judge started a charity to combat the breakdown of families, the Marriage Foundation, and through it he has encouraged people to “recycle rubbish, but not your partner” and to “mend it, don’t end it”. He said:
“So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1% of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown,
“It’s gratifying that marriage in any context is centre stage … but [equal marriage] is a minority issue. We need a much more focused position by the Government on the importance of marriage.”
The 63-year-old judge went on to say that the current proposed ban on the Church of England performing same-sex weddings, “will not end there”.
He added: “People, including vicars, and same-sex people, are unlikely to accept the government ban on marrying gays as the solution.”
Mrs Miller told the House of Commons that she was putting in place a “quadruple lock” of measures to guarantee religious organisations would not have to marry gay couples against their wishes, including a ban on the Church of England, and Church in Wales performing same-sex weddings.
The bill is expected by the end of January, and reports suggest that David Cameron wants equal marriage to be legal by summer 2013.
The archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols spoke to the BBC ahead of his Christmas Day service. On Monday night, during his Christmas Eve mass service, he attacked the Government legislating for equality.
He told the BBC: “There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no green paper, no statement in the Queen’s speech.
“There are profound differences of opinion about the nature of Christian truth and its place in society, about the right of an ancient tradition to dictate or even to advocate ethical values around … marriage [and] the nature of human relationships.”
Sir Coleridge, of the High Court Family Division, said his charity was not against or for marriage equality, however he said:
“The breakdown of marriage and its impact on society affects 99.9 per cent of the population. That is where the investment of time and money should be, where we really do need resources.”
He said that the married population did not represent the problem, but that the cohabiting population did, where “the risk of breakdown is far, far worse”.
Recently released statistics suggest that 42% of marriages end in divorce, which is slightly less than the figure from six years ago, which was 45%.
According to Sir Paul, the overall divorce rate was “miles too high” and he said that 3.8 million children were in the family justice system as a result. “This is an obscene level of family breakdown,” he said.
Sir Coleridge was also the subject of a complaint to the Office of Judicial Complaints, and he was reportedly to adopt a lower profile, as a result.
Despite the “quadruple lock” on marriage equality for religious freedom, a new poll found that the majority of the people in England and Wales wish for the Church of England to be able to conduct same-sex marriages.