With the U.K. government scheduling a public consultation on same-sex marriage in early March, the Coalition for Marriage has launched a petition against redefining the term marriage. The petition, launched Feb. 20, has over 54,000 signatures, and counting.
This past September, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone made a statement announcing the government's plan to legislate for gay marriage by 2015. In October, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, a conservative, said he supported same-sex marriage. According to The Independent, at a Tory party conference Cameron said, "I don't support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative."
"People should not feel pressurized to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views . . . [The public consultation] will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known," The Coalition for Marriage says on its website.
The Coalition for Marriage is against same-sex marriage because its members believe redefining the word could be harmful for traditional married couples, and society as a whole. "If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined," the group claims on its website. "If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?"
The coalition describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the U.K. that support traditional marriage and oppose any plans to redefine it." The group claims to have the support of politicians and religious leaders, and says it reaches out to people of all faiths, and of no faith, who agree that marriage "is the most successful partnership in history and should not be redefined."
On the other side, British gay, lesbian, and bisexual charity Stonewall has spoken out against the petition. Chief executive of Stonewall, Ben Summerkill, told the BBC, "Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex."
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has signed the Coalition for Marriage's petition and publicly supports it. He told the BBC that the government's plan to legislate for same-sex marriage by 2015 "is a hostile strike, which rather than strengthening marriage, will destroy its meaning and diminish its importance drastically."