Fox letter shows equal marriage is not the problem

In a letter, Liam Fox writes that Cameron’s equal marriage policy is “social engineering” and that:

The principle of altering the accepted legal status of the majority of the population in order to satisfy what appears to be a very small, if vocal, minority is not a good basis on which to build a tolerant and stable society

fox-wedding-cakeThe reason Fox is so off-base is that he believes that the law defines language, and therefore what marriage is. For him changing legal marriage to include homosexuals changes the “legal status” of the majority; as if at the stroke of a pen happy marriages will break down around the country. There is no mention in the letter of the moral status, or the objective status or the actual health and vitality of individual marriages. The problem is not the policy, but the idea that the law defines human relationships. As I said before, a superior policy is to remove the state from the picture entirely, marriage should be a lawful but not a legal institution, not defined by anyone apart from the people involved, and whomever they choose to help them with the details.

Marriage, in particular the wedding ceremony, is a form of communication. It is how a couple communicates and celebrates that it is in union. By seeking to define marriage, the state alters what it is possible to communicate, and radically alters the economics of that communication. If a couple want to be married in a way that does not match the expectations of society then it is forced into a compromise. It can rebelliously define itself as married, but will then face a lifetime of asserting that definition and occasionally explaining “oh we’re married, but not legally, I don’t recognise the authority of the state to define my relationships” or, for homosexuals “yes that’s my husband, whatever the law says”. In the end, the act of speaking your mind is made more expensive. And so the state’s use of law and punishment at the edges of the issue, to ensure a relationship is or is not permitted, forces the majority of it’s people into a specific legal institution, simply to ease the process of communicating what they feel. It is the state’s assertion that it defines marriage that is social engineering; that it has been doing it for 200 years does not excuse it.

However, the real problem right at the core of this, is when the culture allows its language to be defined by something without and above itself. Words are the servant, not the master, of the speaker and the Government should be the servant, not the master, of it’s people. The people should not put up with this kind of thing – yet sadly they do.

When it comes to marrying my beloved, I have booked the legal ceremony for the day after the proper ceremony. My friends and family will celebrate a very real marriage that many will regard as a sham, and then to ensure we are using terms society understands, we will reluctantly tick the legal boxes the next day. The fact that this happens afterwards, and not first, is important. It’s meaning: up yours – you do not define us.


  1. A very good post, getting to the nub.

    We were married in front of as many people as could possibly be gathered. The point being it is a declaration, a statement. Unavoidable and clear. A year or so later our wedding was legally recorded at the Chelsea Registry Office. We were married already. No doubts. Not a single person we knew thought otherwise.



  2. Not being married myself, could someone tell me; what exactly does the contract of marriage entail? I mean in law, not in, say, the Christian religion.

    If, instead of what we have now, we had a separation of Marriage and State, and people conformed to whatever social norm they chose, and if seeking a legal confirmation of this, put in place a contract, what would that contract specify? Which is a longer way of asking the first question.



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