CARE supports marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman which is for the good of society. This ‘good’ is manifest in a wealth of social science evidence which demonstrates that marriage is associated with significantly better outcomes than cohabitation for both adults and children across a range of fields, including health, education, wealth and wellbeing.
Over the course of the 2010-2015 and 2015-2017 Parliaments, there have been significant changes regarding marriage and indeed other relationship types.
Regulations were introduced in 2011 allowing Civil Partnerships to take place in churches, despite legal opinions suggesting churches may be exposed to successful litigation if they refuse to host civil partnerships whilst continuing to conduct heterosexual marriages.
CARE, like many other religious and secular groups, stood against the introduction of same-sex marriage in the UK Parliament and in the Scottish Parliament during 2013 and 2014. There have been concerning instances of Christians facing pressure and discrimination for holding firm to the Biblical definition of marriage (read more here).
New research published in April 2017 analysing annual population data estimated that unmarried parents make up the majority of family breakdown in the UK. Although unmarried parents make up just 20% of all couples with children in the UK, they account for 51% of annual family breakdown. Latest estimates put the cost of family breakdown at £48 billion every year – equivalent to £1,820 per tax payer.
Whilst Governments cannot intervene directly to fix broken marriages, they can create a public policy framework that supports marriage and makes getting married no harder in this country than is the case across the developed world on average. This can be done in part by recognising marriage in the tax system (read more here) and also by investing in marriage support services such as marriage preparation, marriage enrichment and marriage guidance counselling.
Statutory support was made available for marriage through Section 22 of the 1996 Family Law Act. Whilst subsequent reviews agreed that investing in marriage support was a good use of public monies, following an extension of the provisions to incorporate relationship support, the commitments of successive Governments faded into near obscurity after 2004, though saw a mini revival under the 2010-2015 Coalition Government.
Questions for Candidates
1. Do you support the right of those who believe in marriage solely as the union between one man and one woman to articulate their view?
2. What would you do to ensure those who maintain a traditional definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman remain free to hold and express their view?
3. Do you recognise that it is important and appropriate to use public monies to invest in marriage support services because of the significant benefits of marriage for both adults and children?
4. Will you commit to openly investing in marriage support services and to increasing the amount of money invested in this crucial area?