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High Court judge: Gay marriage is ‘wrong policy’

26 December 2012

Sir Paul Coleridge’s intervention in today’s Times (£) on gay marriage has ensured the debate won’t go quiet after various angry Christmas Day sermons. The High Court Judge tells the paper that introducing weddings for same-sex couples is the ‘wrong policy’, adding:

‘So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown.

‘It’s gratifying that marriage in any context is centre stage… but it [gay marriage] is a minority issue. We need a much more focused position by the Government on the importance of marriage.’

Coleridge does have a point that while the government can’t introduce a law to make relationships stronger, it can help make it easier to access counselling and advice before a marriage reaches crisis point. But those in favour of the legislation introducing same-sex marriage will argue that permitting gay marriage doesn’t stop the government from also trying to strengthen all marriages. Former Tory minister Nick Herbert also believes interventions of this kind compromise judicial independence. He has tweeted the following this morning:

‘Since when in the eyes of the judiciary did a proposed law become unnecessary because it only affects a minority of the population?’

‘And a judge who intervenes in political debate damages judicial independence – whether you agree with him or not.’

Some in the Tory party who oppose the legislation believe Cameron could cheer his party up a little by introducing a tax break for married couples, and this intervention could well encourage them to make their case with greater force in the New Year.

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  • commentator

    Herbert is yet another Vichy Tory so I don’t pay much attention to his weasel words. Having said that, I support gay marriage but why would any man (gay or straight) be stupid enough to marry in this day and age when biased courts will bend over backwards to rip you off and deny you access to your children when your other half decides he/she wants a change of bedfellow? The current law of marriage, as Coleridge should know, means that it makes most sense for men to avoid commitment like the plague. The vows are not worth the paper they are written on.

  • Kevin

    “a judge who intervenes in political debate damages judicial independence”

    Every judge engages in political debate when they pronounce sentence, for example when they denounce the guilty person as “vicious” or sympathise with the difficulties of burglary.

    In a healthy functioning society, however, a judge who opposes legislating the impossible – e.g. same-gender sex – is being juristic and apolitical.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    This Government has no mandate to introduce homosexual ‘marriage.’ It is behaving like a dictatorship.
    If Cameron really believes this policy is ‘the right thing to do’ and will get the support of the people, he should put it in the next Tory Manifesto so we can all vote on it.

  • barbie

    This should be thrown into the long grass, it has no chuck with the C of E, in fact its deplorable to think the church should accomodate these people. Cival partnerships I have no objection to at all, but marriage, no. That is reserved for a man and a woman only, that’s how its always been and that’s how it should remain. That’s how I feel, I accept others may feel differently. This has been forced upon us and the church without prior consultation, we were unprepared but we will fight this all the way. Cameron should concentrate on other things much more important than this, like our excit of the EU, immigration levels, and growth. Far more important than gay marriage, which is not really of interest to this nation with its currant problems and suffering.

    • Magnolia

      I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments, but if only this country had problems with its currants and if only we could look forward, with excitement as well as a realistic prospect, to our exit from the EU then things would be a whole lot better than the rather more dreadful reality.

  • @PhilKean1

    The Judge adds his voice –

    – to those of 77% of the general population, MPs who understand that there is no mandate for this undemocratic imposition, the religious majority and the many who are baffled that this mad-cap measure should be receiving priority-status in the midst of an economic emergency.

    But the rush to impose “Gay Marriage” gives us further confirmation of what has become all too obvious: that David Cameron can be assured that he has less that 30 months left in Downing Street.

    And a very good riddance to him.

    • Chris

      I go further.

      The very expression “Gay Marriage” is an oxymoron.

      It just cannot happen. Cameron can change the law but many people will never regard homosexual couples living as partners, as being “married”.

  • Derek Northcote

    “when we have a crisis of family breakdown”

    Well that would be a heterosexual problem. What IS his point?

    • Baron

      His point is that indeed heterosexual marriages have been fugged up, and that including your lot in the institution will fugg it further. Simple, really.

      • Fergus Pickering

        My lot! Wht is my lot? I have two children by the usual methods. However I support gay marriage 100%. Perhaps the poor should be prevented from marrying. A poor home is usually bad for the children is it not?

        • Baron

          Fergus, no, the poor shouldn’t be prevented from marrying because they can have kids, biological kids, homosexuals cannot.

          Look, whether because of Him or evolution, the continuation of our species is a coupling between a man and a woman not unlike a free movement for us the humans needs full vision. Evolution however throws up anomalies, people attracted to the same sex, people impaired of vision. Agreed?

          The institution of marriage, predating societies as we know them, the law, the notion of equality and stuff, developed because our ancestors discovered it to be the best way to raise kids. It applied to heterosexual coupling only as the institution of driving applies only to those who can see. This means not that as a society we should be against either group, criminalizing homosexuality was as wrong as would be the criminalizing of blindness. But both conditions limit what those inflicted by them can or should do. Common sense, really.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Baron there is no problem with our species propagating. Quite the contrary. We don’t want MORE poor ignorant children but less. If nice middle class homosexuals can adopt the children of heterosexual deadbeats, then that is a gain surely.

            • Baron

              Nope, the more of us the better, Fergus, one can never tell which family genes will produce the next Einstein. The stone age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones, it was the man’s discovery of metals, and so it went from there.

              Man brain power is what makes us progressing, my blogging friend, inbreeding, a consequence of a dwindling humanity, would be the sure death of us as a species.

    • Daniel Maris

      But surely as a married heterosexual (you said elsewhere you had an infertile wife) you can empathise???!!!???

  • Derek Northcote

    Sorry “Judge”

    Your job is to implement laws based on policies created by politicians.

    Not to create them yourself.

    • David Lindsay

      We do not have the American-style “separation of powers” in this country, thank goodness. If we did, then all Ministers would have to resign their seats in either House, senior judges would have to renounce either their peerages or their seats on the bench, and so forth. There are numerous quasi-judicial functions of Ministers, sometimes including the determination of sentences. All members of the Executive are required to be members of the Legislature. The judges make the whole of the Common Law.

      In reality, the “powers” have never been “separate”, nor can they ever be so. One of them has to win in the end. In Britain, we have decided that it is to be Parliament, and thus the elected House of Commons within Parliament. Would we rather that the Prime Minister always had the last word? Or that, as in the United States (among other places) an unelected judicial body of lifetime appointees could simply rule that any matter it liked was “constitutional”, and thus reserved entirely to itself? This is why, as is their wont, judicial theorists and constitutional lawyers habitually engage in more than a spot of wishful thinking where “the separation of powers” is concerned. They wish to see an American-style krytocracy in this country.

      The wretched Human Rights Act has been a major step in that direction. But mercifully, we still have instead the supreme legislative, executive and judicial authority of the Crown (i.e., of the nation embodied, regardless of party or anything else), exercised either by Parliament itself or by Ministers drawn from and accountable to Parliament. Within Parliament, the House of Commons has come to be elected by universal adult suffrage and, since the Parliament Act of 1911, to be supreme.

      The Crown is the ultimate contradiction of the Franco-American, and in no sense indigenously British, theory of the separation of powers. And it is thus the ultimate guarantee that the United Kingdom (and each of the 15 countries with which we share the Crown) will remain a democracy, unlike either absolutist and historically coup-plagued France, or krytocratic America, to name but two.

      “Separation”, indeed.

  • Magnolia

    Gay marriage legislation, the equivalent to religious and traditional marriage of imaginary legislation to replace Christmas and introduce the festival of Winterval for everyone so that we can all be equal and share in the same ‘values’.
    The lefty, liberal sameness idea of equality, coming to a car insurance premium for you girls, any time soon. Welcome to government by bit part actors.

    I do hope that when the cities are starving they don’t come to the countryside for food because by then we will be another country.

    • barbie

      Vote UKIP and stop the madness.

  • HooksLaw

    ‘So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent
    of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown’ — The two are not linked – except that those in a twist over gay marriage would be better advised to think more about family breakdown and less about the sanctity of marriage.

    • Chris


      My objections do not have any base in religion. I have no religion.

      I do object to politicians seeking to tell me what words mean. I know full well what the word “marriage” means. It is does not mean two homosexual partners iiving togther.

      It is not within the power, of here today, gone tomorrow, politicians, to redefine the meaning of words or what to think. If we let that occur we are in very dangerous territory.

      Cameron may get his way in parliament but it will cost him dear. It is a battle he did not need to fight.

  • David Lindsay

    It is never going to happen. File under AV, Lords reform, and Commons boundary reform.

    • Baron

      David, you may be underestimating the power of the progressive brigade pushing for absolute equality, the misguided tenet that will bury us eventually.

      It’s amazing the followers of Allah, numbering substantially more than 0.1% of the population, haven’t pronounced on it yet. Or have they?

      • David Lindsay

        They were key players in forcing a free vote on the Labour side, the point at which this Bill died. Mostly the Catholics. But also the Muslims. Why do you think that Labour never did it, and indeed specifically ruled it out while in office?

        This Government’s ability to get nothing enacted is without historical or international parallel.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Not getting things enacted I see as a gain. A government which does as little as possible is my desire. 90% of Acts of Parliament are meddling we would be better without. You sir, are a meddler. The universities are full of people like you. Fortunately power ever eludes you.

          • David Lindsay

            Power ever eludes your lot, by the look of it. Not office. But power. Or at any rate any idea what to do with it. It’s not as if they don’t want to do things. It’s just that they are completely incapable of following through.

            It wouldn’t matter if none of their gimmicks ever happened, if they were fixing the economy as they were supposed to. Although the economy was not in fact broken on the day of the last General Election: the figures speak for themselves, and I doubt that you can remember food banks, or suicides over benefit withdrawals, or teachers buying pupils’ food and clothes because their parents could not afford to, or rampant rickets and tuberculosis. We have all of those things, and more, two and a half years on.

            But doing anything about them would be “meddling”. So they are not doing it. To put things at their politest.

            • Stuart Eels

              and I doubt that you can remember half the things you’ve listed either, get off your bandwagon for once. Fergus Pickering is dead right there’s far too much Government intervention in all our lives.

            • 2trueblue

              The economy was not broken on the day of the election??????
              The last time the economy was healthy was in 1997 when the Conservatives handed the keys to Blair/Brown/Balls and the mob.

              Teachers were feeding children during the Liebore years, child poverty grew under the last government, the gap between rich and poor grew, youth unemployment grew. Blair had his turn at trying to bring benefits in line and it was the number of suicides and people being turfed out of their lodgings and homes that made Liebore drop their plans to sort out the benefits fiasco. Maybe you should have been in an advisory centre or the CAB whilst it happened.
              Liebore did nothing to cater for the growing needs of the UK. They increased immigration to a massive level and had no idea how to cater for it. They destroyed anything worthwhile and did not have the wit to attend to the pressures or impact that their lack of policies would do to the country. The infrastructure was neglected in every area and we will be playing ‘catch up’ in every area of our lives because they failed to make provision for our and our childrens future.

        • Harry

          You are of course mistaken. I suggest you take a look at the C4EM site (google it) and look at their running total of MPs for and against. The opposition is limited to a few (max. 8) sad catholics (mainly) on the Labour side and roughly half of the Tory MPs expressing an interest. The Bill will pass the Commons comfortably. And the tide of public opinion (i.e. every opinion poll taken in the last 2-3 years which actually mentioned gay marriage!) is running substantially in favour.
          As one sesnible Tory said, the only group in society against this is the over 65s!
          But you know all that, of course.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Am I supposed to care what some judge ays. They usually live at least thirty years in te past and all judges like speaking far better than shutting up. What’s this .01% of the population stuff? Ah yes! Balls, that’s what it is. The sort of thing judges spout effortlessly.

    • Andy

      Not my experience of judges. I have met dozens of them and the one thing that has struck me about them is how Left wing so many of them are.

  • Archimedes

    “Some in the Tory party who oppose the legislation believe Cameron could cheer his party up a little by introducing a tax break for married couples”

    Some in the Tory party should stop with the bloody tax breaks incentivising behaviour that they approve of with a financial reward that distorts the value of the behaviour. This is exactly why the state started interfering in marriage, and this is exactly why gay marriage has popped up as a legitimate complaint.

    • Baron

      Baron has said it before, two things on sex cannot be questioned, we reproduce by it, and we enjoy it, the homosexual lot comes only under the latter, marriage under both the former and latter. The State can legitimately interfere with marriage to ensure there’s enough of us to pay taxes and stuff, the State interference with sex for joy can only be for health reason including both homo and hetero sex.

      • Archimedes

        “The State can legitimately interfere with marriage to ensure there’s enough of us to pay taxes and stuff”

        I disagree with you. The state has no duty, or license, to interfere in order to control the size of the population.

        • Baron

          Archimedes, if we all perished, there would be no state. Even if Baron were to concede you right then the State still has the duty to protect us, as many of uus as possible, this in itself is ‘interfering with the size of the population”, isn’t it?.

          • Archimedes

            I don’t think so. When we choose to fight against an invading force, for example, we accept casualties and losses. If the state were to be concerned with protecting us, and the size of the population, then in all circumstances we would be given to conceding defeat, as the most sensible way to preserve the population. However, we do not choose to do that. What we fight to protect are our institutions, our way of life, our social contract, and our freedom.

  • Daniel Maris

    This government has done enough to smash up the constitution by launching unwarranted attacks on senior civil servants as cover for its own failings that it can hardly complain about a judge giving a political opinion.

    The judge makes a fair point. The government can either waste its energies on this unwanted measure or it could do any number of things to support the institution of marriage and protect children. One for instance – there is no reason why there shouldn’t be TV adverts about the importance of marriage for bringing up children, and about people needing to commit seriously to one another before bringing children into the world and to then not put their own feelings before those of children. After all, we have adverts on TV about rape-related issues for teenagers.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh, I can see that making a big difference. I would have thought that children are given far too much rope these days and allowed to do and say as they like far too often..They are, after all, ignorant, selfish and violent, whereas I …

    • HooksLaw

      What a preposterous load of rubbish – we get Mr Cholmondley-Warner to tell us how we should be good little married persons.
      And of course you will find enough actors producers and crew who will be shining adverts for your message won’t you? We don’t want any hypocrites do we?

      I think the whole of history is against your pompous moral crusade for perfection in humanity

      • Daniel Maris

        I don’t see what’s wrong with government reminding people of the primary purpose of marriage, which is not personal fulfilment but raising the next generation successfully. We need to counter the all pervasive personal fulfilment propaganda in our OK mag/soap opera culture.

        It’s not a quest for perfection. It’s simply stating facts: children from broken homes, to use and old fashioned but accurate phrase are far more likely to live in poverty, to get involved in crime, to achieve less in their education and to become addicted to drugs. Promotion of stable marriage is a good idea.

        • Derek Northcote

          My wife cannot conceive.

          Should we be forcibly divorced?

          We clearly as a married couple do not fit your model.

          • Baron

            Derek, what argument is that? Yours cannot, other heterosexuals could, you lot cannot altogether, all of you, the lot, Which part of the ‘not one of you’ you don’t understand, ha?

          • barbie

            No but you could adopt, there are many children who would appreciate a good home.

            • Fergus Pickering

              So can gay couples adopt. Etcetera.

          • Daniel Maris

            Assuming that’s true… your argument is a bit like a singer in the local church choir asking “Should I be forcibly prevented from singing the Messiah because I can’t do it full justice?” And the answer in that case, as in yours, is “no”.

      • Baron

        There has never been perfection in marriage, but then there has never been a drive legislating for the imperfection of the institution until your lot arrived, HooksLaw,

  • MirthaTidville

    Ah yes the selective Mr Herbert…….he doesnt mention suddenly dropping this fundamental change on society without having the courage to put it in the manifesto etc and then ignoring the limited consultation views because they became an inconvenient truth…

    • Justathought

      The ICM poll showing 52% conservatives now in favor and an overall support level rising to 62% shows DC has called this one right. Looking at the poll detail there is a generational difference of opinion which is quite understandable but this goes down well with the younger voters.

      • Seasurfer1

        Simply, Cameron will not be getting our 4 Family Votes. Other than this proposed action, we have not participated in any poll against Gay Marriage. We are perhaps the effective silent and abstaining majority tory vote which will hurt hard when the time comes.

        Cameron going on like this will preside over the destruction of the Conservatives!!! He wants to listen to church attendees, to find out how hard it is going to hurt him.

        • Justathought

          It was British colonial law from 1664 that a man and a woman could not marry if they were of different colour. The stain of that remained in some US states until Loving-v-Virginia 1967 overturned that law. It is just possible that in time banning gay marriage will be seen in the same light?

          • 2trueblue

            You are not comparing like with like.

            • Justathought

              If you cut them do they not bleed?

          • Rahul Kamath

            This is quite an interesting compare.

            One line of analysis would look at whether race or gender were more accurately/ consistently measurable. If more accurately measurable then at least any such law banning marriage could be consistently (and thus fairly) implemented.

            On the surface it seems self evident that gender would win such a test and thus same-sex marriage bans could be consistent. But the science doesn’t seem to support this view. Apparently it’s not always clear-cut as to whether someone is male or female.

      • 2trueblue

        Love to see the cross section they polled, and the questions that produced the ‘right’ answers.

        • Justathought

          Or alternatively it was a straight poll and these are the actual results?

          • Baron

            Justathought, sir, it may well be that gay marriage is one of the ‘epoch making moves’ liberating the as yet unenlightened great unwashed, sadly, experience suggests otherwise, whatever your lot has touched with the same aim has turned sour.

            Spare a minute, have a read of this, come back, we talk again


            • DrCoxon

              Thank you for the reference to http://libertarianalliance.wor

            • Justathought

              I am quite neutral on the whole issue but as it is the topic under discussion I was considering if and how the meaning of marriage had changed over time.

              Certainly in Britain and the colonies marriage was enshrined in law but could not be between different colours. Clearly that definition of what constitutes a legal marriage has changed and this is reflected in the law. Previously marriage was for life, now that is optional. So evidently changes to the meaning of marriage have precedent .

              • Baron

                Justathought, at no time in British history did the meaning of marriage get even close to defining the institution anything other than a union of the two genders – male and female. That’s a cert, trust Baron, he know, he’s checked it up.

                If the legislation goes ahead will you also back two same sex siblings marrying? You know, two brothers, two sisters? Arghhhh

          • 2trueblue

            There is no such thing as a straight poll, the client always gets to chose the questions…..

      • DrCoxon

        1.I think that you will find that the elderly are more conscientious about participating in general elections.
        2. Many of the young would not vote Tory anyway.
        So DC has sacrificed loyal supporters for the mirage of winning over the young.

        • Justathought

          I agree with your points however who will the elderly Tory vote for as an alternative protest? I expect that possibility has already been factored in and on balance the commons and the country support the proposed change.

          • DrCoxon

            It may have been factored in but I sense that DC has miscalculated. A lot of Tory voters trust Tory leaders and give them the benefit of the doubt on economic issues and foreign affairs. However, on social issues it is a different matter. DC is proposing to do something profoundly unconservative. I live overseas and follow from a distance (without a vote). I have the impression that Seasurfer 1 (above) represents a quiet strand of traditional Tory voters. Slow to react, they are increasingly frustrated by DC’s tactics and increasingly irritated by the perceived consequences of the projected legislation. For, if passed, the legislation will necessarily bring all manner of subsidiary aspects of political correctness.
            The legislation will not be passed in a matter of weeks. The debates will see the party tear itself apart, with little time for healing before the next election.Then many of the ‘oldies’ will not be out canvassing – that is the real problem for the Tories.

  • Albert Cooper

    Now wait for the minority to voice their “hurt”

    • DrCoxon

      Agreed. I have defective vision in one eye. When young I was told that I could not join the RAF. If equality principles prevail, should I be seen as a victim of discrimination?

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