Ex-Times editor questions plans to redefine marriage

Redefining marriage would weaken an institution that society needs to be strong, a former editor of The Times has said.

William Rees-Mogg, the newspaper’s editor from 1967-1981, made the comments following the launch of a controversial consultation on the issue.

While the former editor says that he usually sympathizes “with the liberal attitude on these issues” he questioned the wisdom of ditching the traditional definition of marriage.


Writing in today’s edition of The Times he said: “this week we heard the strongest argument for traditional marriage that I have heard from a government.

“Iain Duncan Smith, one of the most effective members of the coalition, published a strategy on social justice that takes the view that children are indeed best reared in a stable marriage.

“The problem comes down to the best way to strengthen the role of marriage in our culture. At present it is widely felt to be under attack, as is religion in general.”


He added: “Can it help to strengthen the institution of marriage to make its very definition weaker and to extend it to same-sex couples, not only in common usage, but in the legal framework?”

Lord Rees-Mogg also commented on a pastoral letter by two Roman Catholic Archbishops which was read out in 2,500 churches in England and Wales last Sunday.

He pointed out that “the attitude of the Church is that the welfare of children matters most, and that changing the definition of marriage would be unhelpful for children.

“Whatever else the archbishops’ attitude may involve, it puts the interests of children first.”


Yesterday the Westminster Government’s official consultation on redefining marriage was branded a “sham” which will ignore any opposition.

The consultation asks the public if they “agree or disagree” with rewriting the definition of marriage.

However, it also says “this consultation is about how we best remove the ban on same-sex couples having a civil marriage, not on whether this should or should not happen”.