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Britain: Home of the Progenitor of Parliaments?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The United Kingdom has long been proud to host the Mother of Parliaments. Now, if Prime Minister David Cameron has his way, Britain will be home to the Progenitor of Parliaments. Britain’s Conservatives – the Tories – are deeply divided by the precipitous actions of their young, hip Prime Minister.


Mr. Cameron wants to ram through Parliament a measure to end marriage in Britain. He won’t, of course, claim to be ending marriage. But this will nonetheless be the effect of his rule.

But Cameron is facing a revolt. A big one. Anne Widdicombe spoke for thousands of Britons when she challenged the Prime Minister’s dismissal of marriage savers as bigots.

“‘Is it bigoted to [recognize] that the complementarity of a man and a woman in a union open to procreation is unique and cannot be replicated by other unions?’ she asked, to cheers.

“‘The real bigots, those who really deserve to be described as such, the real extremists, the real nasties, are those who believe that those who dissent from their views have no right to do so and that the state itself should silence them.’

“She poured scorn on the idea that the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ could be replaced in official documents by terms such as ‘partner’ or ‘progenitor.’”

Mr. Cameron needs to read the statement of the Beyond Marriage organizers. This is the “manifesto” – a British term for platform – of a very influential group of theorists, professors and leftist ideologues. They intend nothing less than the abolition of marriage.

Better yet, Mr. Cameron should have been with my students and me at Washington’s Newseum in October, 2008. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley there told an overflow crowd: “I know opponents of gay marriage say it will lead to polygamy. Well, I’m for that.” Turley’s statement was wildly cheered by a hall filled with liberal congressional staffers, federal judicial clerks, and journalists. You could not have found a better example of the chattering classes, the Inside-the-Beltway elites.


Mr. Cameron is a quick-witted, sharp-tongued debater, to be sure. He would not have risen to his eminent role had he been a bumbler. Yet, he should be required to answer some pointed questions: If two men may marry, why not three? You have certainly heard of LGBT. What about the B and T? If two men may marry, may twin brothers who are gay marry? If not, why not? They certainly have a loving relationship and they’ve been together longer than any of us have. If twin brothers may marry, why not a twin brother and sister? Or mother and son?

In Britain, in America, the slave trade dishonored both nations. The African slave trade has stood for centuries as a primary example of man’s inhumanity to man. It was a reproach to British and American claims of Christianity, of love of liberty, of Enlightenment.

In that light, let us consider this question: If two men may marry and they want a child, they must contract with a poor young woman. And if that woman develops natural motherly feeling for the child of her womb, will she be compelled by law to surrender the baby?

Does this not show us how quickly we return – like a dog returning to his vomit – to the core principle of the slave trade? We are back in the business of buying and selling human kind.

It is an abomination.

Interestingly, the great Edmund Burke was not a Tory. He was a member of the Whig Party in Parliament. But Burke shaped conservatives’ thinking in his time and in ours. Burke described the family as “that little platoon in which we move in society.” He spoke of the rights of man. They include the right to “inheritance of our parents and the consolations of religion.”


What kind of inheritance is it to be deprived – intentionally, and by statute – of a mother or a father?

Many of us will continue to seek and find consolation in religion. Many of us believers will continue to go to our churches for the sanctification of our marriages. But what of the poor, the immigrants, the marginalized, the unchurched?

What David Cameron is doing in his headlong rush is to threaten the very foundation of Britain and of every nation.

As our Chief Justice, Earl Warren, said for a unanimous Supreme Court in 1967: “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

If David Cameron succeeds in destroying marriage, Britain herself will disappear in a century. One thing is clear: If Cameron overturns marriage, Britain will never again be Great.

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