The Government’s proposals to introduce civil marriage for same-sex couples have provoked controversy and a wide-scale debate. The public consultation, which concluded in June sparked more responses than almost any other Government consultation. The debate has, in many ways, been more diverse, impassioned and wide-ranging than previous debates around ‘gay rights’. In particular, a ‘conservative case’ in favour of reform has emerged.
Supporters of equal marriage suggest that allowing same-sex people to marry would be an important act to ensure that gay and lesbian people have equal rights under the law. It’s also suggested that marriage is a beneficial institution, encouraging commitment and stability and that these benefits should not be denied to gay people, with some suggesting that marriage could be particularly beneficial to gay people.
Opponents argue that the change would redefine the nature of marriage and weaken the institution as a whole. They also argue that it could lead to a ‘slippery slope’ that could see the likes of polygamous marriage legalised at some point in the future. Concerns have also been expressed by opponents that the changes could be detrimental to religious freedom.
This report adopts an evidence-based analysis of the arguments around marriage equality to consider whether there is a compelling argument to reform the law. It pursues a reasoned analysis of the equal marriage concept and its practical implications and evaluates the arguments on both sides of the divide. It also explores the experience of other countries where marriage equality is already a reality.
“This report is typically rigorous hard thinking from Policy Exchange. No good bishop will be unmoved by the persuasiveness of its argument for marriage. No good Conservative will be unmoved by the persuasiveness of its argument that marriage should be made accessible to gay people. This report holes below the waterline any notion that David Cameron and others aren’t supporting equal marriage for good right-wing reasons.”
Ben Summerskill – Chief Executive, Stonewall
“This report represents the best and most carefully considered case for equal marriage from a conservative (with a small ‘c’) perspective so far.”
Adam Wagner – Editor, UK Human Rights Blog