Gay marriage: Rugby MP Mark Pawsey’s comments criticised

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ALLOWING same-sex marriage could reduce Britain’s marriage rate further, Rugby’s MP has told the House of Commons.

In a debate on Tuesday, Mark Pawsey said that when same-sex marriage was introduced in Spain and Holland, there was a decline in the levels of marriage between couples having children. Mr Pawsey said that wherever possible, it is desirable for children to be brought up in stable family backgrounds, and that having parents who were married is one of the best ways of achieving this.

His comments attracted criticism on social media site Twitter, with two Labour MPs flagging up his comments. The Conservative party as a whole is split on the issue.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Pawsey said: “I have been pleased to hear members from all political parties saying what an important institution marriage is.

“I fully agree and so I find it a shame that we currently see fewer couples with children choosing to get married. I believe this should be one of the key issues in any debate about marriage.”

He added: “I was concerned to learn that when same-sex marriage was introduced in Spain and the Netherlands, evidence suggested a decline in the levels of marriage between couples having children. I do not wish to see the same happening here and levels of marriage falling further.

“I believe that, wherever possible, it is desirable for children to be brought up in stable family backgrounds. Having parents who are married is one of the best ways of achieving this.”

According to last year’s census, there were 138 same-sex civil partnerships in the Rugby borough as of March 2011, and an above-average 41,049 married people from the borough’s population of 80,689 over-16s.

Centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange released a report in October in favour of same-sex marriage and included sections analysing the effects of same-sex marriage of marriage and divorce rates.

The report said: “The statistical evidence from other countries shows no link between marriage equality and damage to the institution: divorce rates do not go up, marriage rates do not go down.”

It concluded: “Full equality would bring the final symbolic acceptance to a group only recently invited in from the cold.”

MPs are set to have a free vote on the issue in coming weeks, however it’s expected to be approved. The Church of England is “firmly against” same-sex marriage, and – along with other religious groups – will not be required by law to hold ceremonies.