Lord Carlile: Marriages like my daughter and her partner will ‘reinvigorate and strengthen marriage’
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile of Berriew, spoke during the debate around the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill today, speaking passionately of his daughter and her female partner, and the “stability and certainty” they have offered each other’s children.
The former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Lord Dear, had tabled a “fatal” amendment to deny the bill its second reading.
Lord Carlile said his oldest daughter, 40 years old, was engaged with the hope to be married to another professional woman, and that the “two articulate and clever women who at least have found constant love, and emotional and every fulfilment, in each other.”
He continued to say that the family “respect their wishes”, and that they would not accept another term for their union, as they wish to be married, describing it as “discriminatory and demeaning” that his daughter, and her fiance, may be asked to accept another term for their marriage.
Continuing, he commended the couple for bringing “a new stability and certainty” for each other’s children, who all wanted the couple to get married, and they wanted to be involved in the wedding.
Questioning the other peers, he asked: “Is there any one of your married Lordships who would feel any less married if Anna and Joanna were permitted lawful wedlock?”
Addressing ongoing fears expressed by faith leaders about protections for faith groups, he noted that those fears had been addressed by Lord Pannick and Lady Kennedy, and dismissed further claims as nonsensical.
He asked: “Do your Lordships really think that any gay couple would want to be married by a priest or other official of any kind who was opposed to single-sex marriage? Of course they would not.”
Lord Carlile concluded by saying: “This is far from the end of marriage as we know it. Indeed, it may be the reinvigoration of marriage in a way that we do not yet know. The Bill offers the prospect of strong new examples of marriage, such as my daughters, and an increase in family stability, which these additional marriages would bring.”
The full speech is available to read below.
My Lords, in some very fine speeches yesterday we heard every legal, theological, ethical and procedural issue set out very cogently. I noted that in the very last speech at the end of yesterday’s proceedings my noble friend Lord Flight said:
“If there is one single point on which I think this Bill should not proceed, it is that the nation is absolutely divided”.
Hearing that comment prompted me to remind myself at once that my noble friend Lord Flight really is the noted author of an irresistible page-turner entitled All You Need to Know About Exchange Rates. If in that context one always had to wait for consensus, we would surely be in a far worse position economically than we are now. I say to my noble friend and to others that Parliament has a duty to lead, as well as to follow.
The way in which I hope to enforce this debate is by evidence rather than by advocacy. Among the five challenging and always interesting daughters that my wife and I have between us, my oldest daughter is a 40 year-old respected academic with two fine children. She is engaged—to be married, they hope—to another professional woman with one child. Past relationships—including, in my daughter’s case, heterosexual relationships—have proved unsuccessful and unenduring for them both. Now, we have two articulate and clever women who at least have found constant love, and emotional and every fulfilment, in each other.
We as a family respect their wishes. Their wish is to be married and they will brook no other term for their intention. They believe and articulate that it is discriminatory and demeaning that their intended marriage should receive any less legal recognition than any other marriage in the country—indeed, in the world, as they would say. By their relationship, they have brought new stability and certainty for their children, all of whom want them to be married and wish to take a full part in their wedding. I agree with them when they ask what conceivable damage their marriage, if permitted, would do to any other marriage in the land. Is there any one of your married Lordships who would feel any less married if Anna and Joanna were permitted lawful wedlock?
Among the many objections that we have heard, we have heard a good deal about pressure on ministers of religion. That has been answered comprehensively, but quite apart from the answers that have already been given, including the quadruple lock, and the detailed answer on the law given by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, do your Lordships really think that any gay couple would want to be married by a priest or other official of any kind who was opposed to single-sex marriage? Of course they would not.
Therefore, to opponents of the Bill, I suggest that this is far from the end of marriage as we know it. Indeed, it may be the reinvigoration of marriage in a way that we do not yet know. The Bill offers the prospect of strong new examples of marriage, such as my daughters, and an increase in family stability, which these additional marriages would bring.
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