If marriage is redefined it will become all about the demands of adults rather than the best interests of children, a Tory MP has said.
Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, said changing the meaning of marriage would replace “the tried and tested family unit”.
Writing in his local newspaper he said that “marriage would lose its close identification with childrearing” and that children do best when raised by their married, biological parents.
“I place huge value on the child-centred institution of marriage and sincerely believe that weakening it would be extremely detrimental to our society”, he said.
He also wrote: “By removing the welfare of children as the primary reason for supporting marriage it becomes just another vehicle for the working out of adult desires and relationships, no different from civil partnerships or living together.
“It becomes harder to resist the calls of those who think marriage should be opened up to any combination of relationships that adults want.
“Satisfying present desires takes precedence over long term commitment to a shared future and the future happiness, beyond the parents’ own lives, of the children.”
The handful of countries that have redefined marriage have, Mr Whittaker said, seen far-reaching consequences.
He wrote: “In the Netherlands, legalising gay marriage has been followed by the legal recognition of relationships involving more than two people cohabiting – a step towards legal acceptance of polygamy.
“Mexico City legislators have given serious thought to allowing fixed-term marriages: instead of divorcing, the partners would simply not renew the contract.
“Several jurisdictions have stopped referring to mothers and fathers: in Spain they became Progenitor A and Progenitor B on birth certificates. Same-sex marriage legislation in 2005 replaced the term ‘natural parent’ with ‘legal parent’ in Canadian law.”
He also warned that the plan could rupture the 500-year-old link between church and state.
He said: “If Parliament, which legislates in the Queen’s name, passes a bill legalising gay marriage, it will be asking her to sign into law a definition of marriage which the Church of England, of which the Queen is Supreme Governor under God, opposes. This would call into question the Church’s status as the established church.”