Recently I wrote to my MP - first on Twitter, then at his request, by email - to ask his position on equal marriage. Below is the text of my original email, and then his response – which was, to say the very least, disappointing in its lack of conviction.
Richard Harrington, MP for Watford
Dear Mr Harrington
to our brief conversation on Twitter I am writing as one of your
constituents to find out more about your position on the subject of
It is my firm belief that all should be
allowed to marry whom they choose regardless of sexuality or gender.
This is a matter of equal treatment of citizens before the law.
the world same-sex marriage has already legalised in many countries
and states, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Mexico City,
the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and
six US States including New York.
Successive polls have
demonstrated widespread support for same-sex marriage in the UK as
well, both from the LGBT community and society more generally.
has been redefined many times in history. The concept of ‘divorce’,
for example, was introduced as comparatively recently as the formation
of the Church of England. Clearly, the institution of ‘marriage’ has
evolved alongside our society. As such, legislating for same-sex civil
marriage would not only reflect our tolerant and open society, but
actually serve to enhance it.
The arguments I have heard
in opposition to equal marriage do not, in my view, stand up to
scrutiny. If marriage is (as some would have it) for the purposes of
procreation, where does that leave heterosexual couples who do not have
children, either through choice or through circumstance? What about
people who meet and marry later in life, or are infertile?
every citizen the right to marry whom they choose would not undermine
the ceremony's sanctity; I would argue that it's quite the opposite as
it allows all people to celebrate their love and commitment. It
enhances marriage. I would question how the actions of any other couple
could undermine a heterosexual couple's marriage. The only people that
can undermine marriage are the individuals in that marriage.
hope that as a Member of Parliament you support the Coalition
Government's position on equal marriage being legal by 2015 and would be
very interested in hearing your views.
thanks for getting in touch by email, I do appreciate your time and
often find it much easier to explain my position when not limited to
In short, I have absolutely nothing
against same-sex marriage, and I think it is both right and brave of
the party to have pushed forward with this issue, and that is shows
principle. The plans to allow same sex marriage however are
contentious, and I have seen this in my correspondence with
constituents. I feel very much that whichever side I was to support in
this argument, an awful lot of people would be unsatisfied. Therefore, I
have to vote on principle, on which I have no qualms with this.
do think it is right that we have bought this to the forefront and are
delivering on the commitment made in our ‘Contact for Equalities’
published before the election. That said, following correspondence from
many of my constituents, many of them are keen to see adequate
protections for religious marriage so that no vicar would compelled or
obliged to conduct a ceremony against their fundamental beliefs. I can
appreciate that argument, though at current however I do not think this
would be a problem in any way.
The Prime Minister has
consistently argued that society is made stronger by people’s
commitment to one another, marriage is a pillar in our society so what
wrong could come of its extension. We are made stronger when we make
vows to each other and support each other. That is true whether the
couple making the commitment is a man and a woman, a woman and a woman,
or a man and a man, and that basic fundamental is something which I
The Government is rightly consulting
widely on this issue before making any changes to the current position.
The consultation will end today, and has been running via the Home
Office website through which many of my constituents have contributed. I
will be confirming my voting intentions when the details of the
proposals have been released, as the consultation is likely to have a
great influence and I would be keen to see the end result and know all
of the facts before committing to one side of the argument. I would of
course be more than happy to discuss this further when they are
If you have any other questions please feel
free to get back in touch at any time, by email or twitter! I hope this
explains my current position more widely, but am more than happy to
discuss in detail if you would like to. Thank you once again for your