Two national newspapers have today raised doubts about the Government’s consultation on redefining marriage.
Both The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that the consultation is about how, not whether, to bring in same-sex marriage.
The three-month consultation, which was launched yesterday, has already been branded a “sham” by a group supporting the traditional definition of marriage.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has made clear that her mind is already made up, giving a “cast-iron guarantee” that marriage will be redefined by the next general election in 2015.
In its editorial the Telegraph said the proposal to bring in same-sex marriage was not a “minor social tweak, but a fundamental redefinition of an ancient institution, partly in order to signify the ‘modern’ values of David Cameron’s Tories”.
And the Daily Mail also questioned whether there was “really a genuine demand” for redefining marriage.
It said: “If there is, the Government certainly hasn’t demonstrated it, so is it fair that ministers should be bullying the Church so viciously over the issue?”
The newspaper, which has a readership of almost 2 million people, added that the plans were about “redefining an ancient and precious institution and recalibrating the entire way we speak about it”.
The Telegraph also questioned the logic of allowing marriage for homosexual couples while still denying civil partnerships to heterosexuals.
It said: “Introducing a new inequality to end another is an odd way to proceed, and many more legal anomalies will be exposed by this change”.
The newspaper concluded that the “ramifications” of redefining marriage “may be far more profound than Mr Cameron has anticipated”.
Although the consultation includes a question on whether respondents agree with the idea of redefining marriage, sceptics say ‘asking’ is not the same thing as ‘listening’ – especially when the Government is saying it will go ahead whether the public like it or not.
Colin Hart, from the Coalition for Marriage group, which supports traditional marriage, said: “I always thought that a consultation was about listening to people and asking them their views, before making a decision. Not only are they redefining the meaning of marriage, they’re redefining the meaning of consultation.”