Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review: The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

If you are looking for a thorough history of the Church of Scientology, then this book is not for you. I'd recommend Piece of Blue Sky or Inside Scientology instead. But if you saw either of John Sweeney's Panorama documentaries and came away wondering what happened between scenes, like I did, then this is most definitely the book for you.

John Sweeney's "exposes" of Scientology turned into more a study into just what the Church does to those who try to expose it. And here, with the benefit of hindsight and evidence from the Church's side of the story, John Sweeney paints a vivid picture of a Church that is dying from within but still strong enough to lash out at those it feels oppose it.

It was fascinating reading the (allegedly real) leaked documents showing the communications between the infamous Tommy Davis and Scientology HQ. The level of abuse in those communications is not surprising to someone who has been studying the workings of the Church for a while, but the documents still leave one
feeling very uncomfortable.

It's an easy read, and makes a good way to introduce yourself to some of the basic history of Dianetics and Scientology. That history is nothing if not utterly fascinating and, occasionally, deeply disturbing.

And to get a picture of the inner workings of the Sea Org, Scientology's holy order, and to get corroboration  for what may seem some outlandish claims made by Sweeney, check out Blown For Good.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Is There A Link Between Homosexuality And Child Abuse, As Cardinal Turkson Implies?

Cardinal Peter Turkson has claimed that Africa doesn't experience the same levels of clergy abusing children as other areas because of African's firm stance against homosexuality. Not only does this show a remarkably naive understanding of the sexual abuse of children (something disturbing considering his senior position within a Church still trying to recover from sexual abuse scandals which have often been made worse by Church authorities "misunderstanding" the causes and effects of such abuse) but it also makes a not too subtle suggestion that homosexuality is a cause of child sexual abuse.

I have for many years ignored this sort of slur. But I decided that, finally, I must find out whether I'm more likely to abuse children than you, Dear Constant Heterosexual Reader.

I have trawled through the right-wing "gays are paedophiles" articles and the liberal "right-wingers are nuts" articles but I've not found a more concise summary of the studies supporting or opposing than this one from Gregory M. Herek.

Thankfully it confirms exactly what I wanted it to (hence why I like it, I suppose) and shows there is not a link between homosexuality and child abuse.

It really is concerning that the Catholic Church is still trying to avoid taking the blame for the child abuse that is still being uncovered. The Catholic Church did not abuse any children but it often engaged in covering up the abuse, protecting abusers and it continues to make compensation claims difficult for those abused. Rather than face this reality many senior figures continue to seek to blame others.

And who better than the current convenient whipping boys: gay men!

If Cardinal Turkson is representative of the calibre of the "candidates" for Pope, then things are even worse than I imagined. Unlike many liberal sorts I've no expectation of the next Pope being any better than Benedict XVI but I do hope they aren't even worse.

Friday, 15 February 2013

David Jones Is Quite Wrong

Those Tories, David Cameron merely needs to take his eye off them for a minute and one starts saying something silly.

Step forward David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales, who has decided not only to suggest something many anti-LGBT people believe (that same-sex parenting is, at the very least, not ideal) but to also go one step further when he says:

"I regard marriage as an institution that has developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can't do."   
"Which is not to say that I'm in any sense opposed to stable and committed same-sex partnerships."
So what he has just said there is that CLEARLY same-sex partners can't offer a "warm and safe environment" for children. This is quite a different idea to that proposed by more moderate, and thoughtful, opponents of same-sex parenting who focus on whether the life chances of children are better or worse with same-sex parents. That is a debate that has been going on for a very long time and one I'm not going to get involved with (although, full disclosure, my boyfriend's son lives with us both but I wouldn't claim to be his "parent"). But what David Jones has said is that same-sex parents can't love children as much as heterosexual parents (even adoptive ones) nor offer them safety. This is quite obviously wrong. It stinks, in fact, of the age-old insults leveled at gay men that we are all paedophiles.

He later said:

"I made the point of stressing that I was fully supportive of committed same-sex relationships. I also strongly approve of civil partnerships." 

"I did not say in the interview that same-sex partners should not adopt children and that is not my view."  
 "I simply sought to point out that, since same-sex partners could not biologically procreate children, the institution of marriage was one that, in my opinion, should be reserved to opposite sex partners."
That is categorically NOT what he said. David Jones. What a piece of work.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Is Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation A Chance For Reflection?

Pope Benedict's time as the Pope is coming to a, rather surprising, end. I won't pretend I've ever been a fan. From his linking of my lack of belief with Nazism to how down he was on my relationship with Jim I don't think we would ever have gotten along. And it wasn't just me who didn't appreciate his rather unkind words, I'd wager that most secular people weren't really that into him.

Perhaps that is a failure of his Papacy, the failure to reach out and embrace others. But perhaps that is also a failure on the part of many of us who "opposed" him on some level. He was hardly greeted with tolerance wherever he went. His time in the Hitler Youth (something that was not voluntary) is often dragged out to suggest he was some sort of Nazi (although, as we see above, messing around with Godwin's law wasn't only limited to one side of the argument!). And his anti-gay views, pro-life stance and attitude towards safe sex caused a great deal of hurt and anger.

Even during the Protest The Pope action during his state visit to the UK, a movement for which I had a great deal of mean-spirited sympathy, I expressed concerns that some were taking things a little too far. And today on Twitter the anger at his stances has lead to insults. Is this really a practical way for us to engage with the Pope or the Catholic Church itself?

I not only understand the anger and hurt from people on "my" side, I feel it too. Being treated like fascists, told you don't really love (and absolutely shouldn't love) your other half and seeing the pain some Catholic beliefs cause others is sometimes a little too much to bear with just a shrug of your shoulders and a polite smile. But we are never going to change the Catholic Church's beliefs. I'm not saying they can't be changed but they can only be changed from within. We may as well be tilting at windmills if we believe that the next Pope will somehow magically be any different in terms of belief to Pope Benedict XVI.

What we can hope to change, although it isn't completely within our control, is the language the Catholic Church uses about us and how it treats us as people. But we can only change this through engaging with the Church rather than standing around throwing insults. That does very much rely on the Church engaging as well but if we perhaps approach them in a more conciliatory way then perhaps there might be a chance for dialogue.

As shown by recent events surrounding LGBT rights and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, engaging with a church can sometimes lead to real change. I'm not suggesting anyone temper their demands or beliefs. People should still fight tooth and nail for better sex education and equal marriage. And the Catholics should be free to believe as they wish in their own spheres. But perhaps we can temper our language and start talking.

Can we at least try not to call each other names any more? We might get somewhere. Maybe. It is surely worth a try at least?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Has The Prop 8 Campaign Changed The Mormon Church For The Better?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was pivotal in the 2008 Californian campaign that successfully passed Proposition 8. Prop 8, for those who have been living under a rock, amended the Californian constitution to allow only marriages between those of the opposite-sex. This overturned a previous Californian Supreme Court decision allowing marriages between same-sex couples.

The victory of the Protect Marriage coalition, of which the LDS Church was a part, was quickly marred as LGBT campaigners turned their ire on the Church itself (its huge contribution in time and means meant it was singularly targeted as an icon of the Yes on 8 movement). The Church seemed rather taken aback by the level of anger aimed at it.

To an outside observer (someone who doesn't live in the USA nor is a Mormon) this surprise seems a little naive. You do not lightly tell someone who has gained the right to marry that you wish to take that right away, and given the history of the Latter-day Saint movement and polygamy I would've thought this would be quite obvious. But to Mormons marriage is far too important to their worldview for them to have felt they could sit out, what they perceived, a battle to protect it. Perhaps their faith blinded them to how it would make them look to those outside the faith.

The concerted campaign to punish the Latter-day Saints for Prop 8 has disappeared but it did succeed in linking the Church to Prop 8 and to anti-gay battles generally. And this bad PR came at a tumultuous time within the Church itself.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen (Church historian) said:

maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now
The internet has finally brought questioning Mormons together and, with questions of Mormon history and several scientific issues, a growing problem with people becoming inactive in the Church has caused the leadership to start working on how it can keep people in the Church.

John Dehlin, of Mormon Stories, helped carry out a survey of the disengaged, inactive and former members of the Church to help the General Authorities find out what was going on.

Among the top 10 issues causing people to question their place in the Church is the Church's treatment of LGBT people and issues arising from its participation in Prop 8. And to make the matter worse, like many churches, there is a "LGBT friendly Mormon timebomb" waiting to explode. The LDS Church has many problems it needs to resolve and, based on its subsequent actions, it seems to have decided to try and do so.

Last year a new group called Mormons Building Bridges marched in the Utah Pride parade. 300 straight Mormons organised simply to try and combat the impression that Mormons are unloving towards LGBT people. What has caused some to dismiss them, i.e. the fact they are obviously a Church front group set up for PR reasons, is actually what makes me think they are something quite important. For the first time the Latter-day Saints are starting to realise that hurting LGBT people (both emotionally with their participation with anti-equality campaigns and physically through their attempts to cure homosexuality in the past) not only harms their public image but is hurting their bottom line: church members.

The absence of the Church from the campaigns in Washington, Minnesota, Maine and Maryland last year also speaks volumes to their changing priorities. Their recent support for anti-discrimination initiatives in Utah and now Idaho add to a growing picture of a church that is realising that dialogue may work better than opposition. Even their current response to the "Gays in the Scouts" debate is telling in its measured language.

Lest you think this is some LDS Church funded puff piece (I wish, I'm open to offers though), none of this means that the Church has changed its underlying beliefs. Its recently released "Mormons and Gays" website (I shudder at that name) might appear to be all sweetness and light but it is really more about having compassion for "broken" gays than about accepting them. This is progress of a sort though. And, taking us right back to where we began, the Church has filed an amicus brief against the Supreme Court confirming lower court's decisions to overturn Prop 8.

A change in doctrine, though, is hardly what your average LGBT American is looking for. They'd just like to be respected and left alone by a Church that has until recently been out to get them. And the LDS Church's attempts at dialogue and moderated language deserve to be lauded. If only the Catholic church would heed some of these lessons, we might be able to have a far more useful debate with them. Alas. But we can see that it is not impossible for demographics and internal opposition to help change even the most conservative organisation's attitude. That gives me some hope for the future.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

"It's Just A Phase!": Sir John Stanley Isn't Completely Wrong Though

My first experience of sexual education happened in the final year of primary school. The girls got a long education session and a bag full of stuff to prepare them for puberty. Us boys, meanwhile, just got a little book. The book was mainly just pointing out what was about to happen to us physically and had an FAQ at the back. One of the questions it dealt with was something along the lines of "I've been having sexual thoughts about other boys, is this normal?"

The booklet answered that question with (and I paraphrase except the "it will pass" ending which stuck in my mind very clearly) "Yes, many boys have dreams involving other boys but this is just a natural phase and it will pass." The certainty of that answer left me in denial for 5 years. I kept telling myself it was just a phase. It'd go away and soon enough I'd start finding girls attractive. Thankfully I accepted the inevitable when I was 14 as it was pretty obvious girls weren't doing it for me. I was lucky, I know plenty of other men took far longer to acknowledge how they felt.

When my Mum and stepfather found out about my sexuality (mere weeks after I accepted it myself) my Mum sat at the kitchen table and through tears cried "It's just a phase. It's just a phase" over and over. Thankfully by the next morning things were very different, and have been ever since, but that evening of horror will remain with me forever.

So "It's just a phase" is not a concept I look upon very favourably. And my knee-jerk reaction to Sir John Stanley's reason for being against equal marriage is "BIGOT!"

"I consider that enshrining gay marriage into law will be unhelpful, and in some cases positively damaging, to young people going through the perfectly normal phase of being attracted to other young people of the same sex before arriving at a heterosexual orientation subsequently." 
But if we put aside my jerked knee, he does have a point. Young people often do go through a phase of being attracted to people of the same sex. Experimentation and what not. But where he goes wrong is in believing that, somehow, equal marriage will somehow interrupt their discovery of heterosexuality, as if all us gays just got lost somewhere in puberty on our journey to straightdom. That is not quite how it works. If one were to believe this, then all expression of homosexuality (both public and private) would need to be banned to ensure children all arrived at the "right" destination. One has to believe that you can somehow "choose" your sexuality and making homosexuality a little less odious might "encourage" people into that "lifestyle" for his point to make any sense.

When I accepted my homosexuality I had to deal with something pretty powerful; the realisation that I would never marry and have kids. You don't realise how much that version of the future is promoted to you throughout your childhood until you see it disappear. Even at 14, I felt that the future that had been carefully laid out before me by my family and by school was now destroyed. I had to remake my dreams from scratch. Equal marriage won't encourage people to be gay, but it might help some teens (and their parents) get through the shock of coming out. That can only be a good thing.

How The UK Government May End Up Creating "Gay Marriage" Rather Than #EqualMarriage

Once more I risk falling into a traditionalists view of the "homosexual activist" being forever unsatisfied by the crumbs that they throw at us. But the more I look at the Government's proposed Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, the more I think the Government is doing it wrong.

Of course I've already made plain my problems with the bill (which ignores consummation, adultery, the pension problems, opposite-sex civil partnerships and the restitution of marriages dissolved due to getting a GRC). Some of these oversights stand a good chance of getting fixed as the bill progresses through the legislative process (I'm thinking of submitting evidence to the committee myself on these points).

But there is something far more depressing about this bill and that is in its language. As our opponents like to complain, language matters. Added to the consummation and adultery issues it would appear the Government is creating two types of marriage. The way it is approaching amending the pertinent Acts is rather different to how other English speaking administrations have gone about it.

Canada's legislation defined marriage as:
Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.
Maine did it thusly:
Marriage is the legally recognized union of 2 people. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships, including, but not limited to, "spouse," "family," "marriage," "immediate family," "dependent," "next of kin," "bride," "groom," "husband," "wife," "widow" and "widower," must be construed to be gender-neutral for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law.
And Maryland amended the bit in [] to read:

Only a marriage between [a man and a woman] TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NOT OTHERWISE PROHIBITED FROM MARRYING is valid in this State
This is how you do "marriage equality". You make marriage gender-neutral. Though it is tricky, it is the clearest way to make marriage between two people the same regardless of the gender of the participants. So what does our Government's bill do?
Marriage of same sex couples is lawful.
This is quite different to equal marriage. This is far more in keeping with South Africa's creation of different types of marriage, which they only continued when they created "Same-sex marriages". What becomes clear, reading through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is that the Government is creating same-sex marriage (dare I say "gay marriage) and is quite clearly not working towards marriage equality in the way most nations and states have done in the past. Here are a few more quotes from the bill.

Effect of extension of marriage 
(1) In the law of England and Wales, marriage has the same effect in relation to same sex couples as it has in relation to opposite sex couples.
Same, same but different. Marriage rights will be equal, which is something to celebrate, but it still clearly states the difference.

Northern Ireland 
2 (1) Under the law of Northern Ireland, a marriage of a same sex couple under 30the law of England and Wales is to be treated as a civil partnership formed under the law of England and Wales (and accordingly, the spouses are to be treated as civil partners).
Dealing with Scotland and Northern Ireland differently is a necessity due to our increasingly messy constitution but again same-sex couples are not married, they are same-sex married which means they can be separated out and treated differently in other parts of the UK.
In section 8(2) (meaning of certain terms), in the definition of “guaranteed minimum pension”, after “widower’s” insert “, surviving same sex spouse’s”.
Widowers and same-sex spouses. That is what we get. Just like "Married or in a civil partnership". Same, same but different. To give it credit, the bill does look to the future and has this to say on future legislation:

(2)The following expressions have the meanings given— (a)“husband” includes a man who is married to another man; (b)“wife” includes a woman who is married to another woman; (c)  “widower” includes a man whose marriage to another man ended with the other man’s death (d)“widow” includes a woman whose marriage to another woman ended with the other woman’s death;and related expressions are to be construed accordingly. 
So yes, going forward things will become a little more equal. But it is a mess, isn't it?

The problem seems to be that the Government is terrified of all those who screamed bloody murder at the idea of husband, wife, mother, father etc. being removed from the language of law. They warned of Progenitor A and Progenitor B being used instead and made a great big song and dance about how we'd all be banned from refering to our wife as "my wife" (just like in Spain, Canada, the US states etc. where no one says that anymore [note this is sarcasm for any Coalition for Marriage supporters reading]). In an effort to compromise they are dangerously close to simply putting into law the concept of "gay marriage". Which somewhat misses the point.

Is this really what I imagined when I asked for marriage equality? No. I was expecting something more along the Canadian model. Does this mean we shouldn't support the bill? No. Just as I wished our "friends" in the House of Commons had been more honest during the Civil Partnership debates but still voted in favour, I would wish that our allies in Parliament now stated clearly these concerns exist then held their noses and voted it through (if satisfactory amendments weren't forthcoming of course). It may be a flawed bill, but it may be the best we are going to get.

But one upside is that this rather undermines the Coalition for Marriage's concerns about the Government redefining marriage. Nope, they are just making a new kind. Nothing for you guys to worry about at all.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The "LGBT People Don't Want This" Argument Against #EqualMarriage Is Getting Really Old

Of all the arguments against marriage equality I've encountered the two most tiresome are very closely related. We have the "LGBT people don't want to get married" argument (often backed up with historic examples of queer radicalism) and, worse, the "LGBT people shouldn't want to get married (because I thought they were cool)" argument.

Both have been used yesterday in two newspaper comment pieces and I think it really is time we put this one to bed.

Some LGBT people don't want to get married. I'm not just talking about individuals who have decided it just isn't for them either. I've encountered many people who oppose the very concept of marriage. You can see an example of LGBT opposition here. The range of opinions of opposing equal marriage among LGBT people go from sharing the same beliefs as the Coalition for Marriage (complementary nature of marriage etc.) through a sense of unease at the hate this might stir up and all the way down to those some might describe as "radical queers" who think heteronormative institutions are a crime against humanity (I may have exaggerated somewhat there).

So I'm not pretending that there is not opposition to marriage and marriage equality from LGBT people. But I think it is clear that this is, at best, a minority position. A recent Stonewall/YouGov poll found 91% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK support marriage equality. Now, to be fair, it was proposed by Stonewall and as I'm harsh on polls commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage so take that figure with a pinch of salt but I think it is pretty clearly a majority in favour. This doesn't stop some trying to portray things differently.
I don’t think many people want gay marriage. I even doubt that the majority of gays do. Indeed, ComRes asked gays and lesbians whether they would consider entering into a gay marriage: only 31 per cent said they would. For all the noise created by campaigners, it’s not the burning issue David Cameron thinks it is.
Numbers wishing to get married do not equate to levels of support for having the option. Really unbalanced to mention that poll without the YouGov findings too.

But messing around with the numbers is a game people play in arguments all the time so this move is hardly surprising. But what is annoying is those bemoaning the fact LGBT aren't like they used to be (in said persons own rather narrow view of what LGBT people "used to be"). Brendan O'Neill has taken that particular route today in the Telegraph. For him all of our history is just one big "F*** you" to heteronormativity and marriage in particular.

It glosses over the fact that those early gay radicals were not remotely interested in getting married, or in winning equality, the only thing that today's super-square gay campaigners and their cheerleaders go on about. The Stonewall radicals wanted liberation, not equality, and they wanted to destroy marriage, not buy into it. The Gay Liberation Front that emerged out of the Stonewall riot insisted that "complete sexual liberation for all people cannot come about unless existing social institutions are abolished".
Well I hate to point this out but... our "early gay radicals" had a few more pressing matters to deal with than fighting for marriage equality. Just having sex was a crime, associating with like-minded people was difficult and often dangerous and your home or job might be at risk if anyone found out about your sexuality or gender. Overcoming those hurdles to a very basic existence required determination (and quite a lot of bravery). So yes, sorry if they didn't spend their time running up and down screaming about marriage equality   so that we might look back and say "Oh that is what this whole thing has been about!" now. And yes some were deeply against the concept too, as they are today.

But the idea that there were not people seeking to marry in our past is, to be frank, quite ridiculous. There are examples here and there of same-sex couples considering themselves "married" throughout the 19th and early 20th century but even in the more modern Stonewall-era we had the Metropolitan Community Church attempting to marry people as early as 1969 and there are plenty of other examples in the USA from then on. Here in the UK we had OUTRAGE! (and let us face it, they were the poster boys and girls for "radical queers") in 1992 seeking the freedom to marry. This attempt to portray the fight for marriage equality as some completely unexpected very recent turn of events is completely without merit. Absolutely it was not at the forefront of LGBT rights until recently but it was there for quite some time.

Suzanne Moore has the other flavour of the argument in which she is unhappy that LGBT people aren't as much as fun as she would like. Oh she is careful to be supportive of marriage equality but suggests marriage will make gay men boring and they'll start acting like the oppressive husbands and oppressed wives she imagines inhabit all marriages. Ignoring that not all marriages are like that, it is also highly unlikely that such gender politics will affect same-sex marriages. Sigh. Not all LGBT people can, or want to, be "fabulous" and not all LGBT will get married. Those who wish to be non-conformists are free to non-conform and, if we get equal marriage, will be able to properly CHOOSE to non-conform unlike nowadays when we are all rebels, outcasts and cool people by default. What is more dull than that?

Peter Tatchell is the single most recognised "radical" human rights campaigner out there. No conservative middle-class gay man him. And he admits marriage isn't for him, but unlike many he understands that what is important is letting people have the choice rather than to dictate that they live their lives only in the way you want them to. I just wish others would get that too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

We're Not There Yet, But What A Hopeful Beginning!

And so the, not quite perfect, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has begun its progress through the legislative process with an impressive victory of 400 ayes to 175 nays in its 2nd reading in the House of Commons.

I hope that it is amended as it moves through the process to be somewhat more inline with what I would want but there is no harm taking a moment to appreciate just how big that margin of victory was.

If you'd watched the news or read a newspaper you would have had every right to think it would have been closer. The media has given endless coverage to negative voices in this debate and I think we can see now it gives a rather unbalanced view of what the reality in the Commons is. I hope that is a lesson to them as we move forward, although I suspect they think having Peter Bone explode on TV at the idea of people getting extra freedom makes for better viewing in certain producer's opinions.

We won this opening battle. Let us hope that victory stays with us! Now for some appropriate music...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Are We About To See A Lib Dem Wobble On #EqualMarriage?

Tomorrow is the 2nd reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Until today we had only one major concern from the Lib Dem contingent of MPs with regards to voting against the bill and that was Gordon Birtwistle.

Unfortunately today John Pugh has also come out against it, with some statist arguments that he believes to be "liberal" (talk about "cultural communism", having the Government regulate relationships only for its own benefit), and it has raised my concerns as to whether we might see an even larger number vote against.

If we look to Edward Leigh's amendment vote last week as a guide to who we should keep an eye out for in tomorrow's vote we get:

Alan BeithBerwick-upon-TweedLDemaye
Gordon BirtwistleBurnleyLDemaye
John HemmingBirmingham, YardleyLDemaye
Simon HughesBermondsey and Old SouthwarkLDemaye
Charles KennedyRoss, Skye and LochaberLDemaye
Greg MulhollandLeeds North WestLDemaye
John PughSouthportLDemaye

Beith, Hemming, Kennedy and Mulholland are not currently shown on the C4EM support page which is quite worrying. Simon Hughes was relatively supportive when he responded to my Yoosk question two years ago but I've heard whispers he is wavering. To add to this other formerly supportive MPs are showing signs of wavering such as Tim Farron (who lost my confidence a while ago)

Very concerning to see Lib Dem MPs voting against party policy in a free vote (i.e. not whipped like tuition fees) and equally concerning to see that we might actually get a higher percentage against than Labour in a worst case (but possible) scenario.

I hope to be proven wrong.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Breaking Down The Coalition For Marriage's #EqualMarriage Briefing To Parliament

The Coalition for Marriage has published its own briefing ahead of the marriage equality vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Prepare yourselves as we break down its summary.

There is no mandate – it wasn’t in the manifesto of any major party. 

I've dealt with this argument before. Ultimately after the next election either the Conservatives or Labour will be elected into power (either alone on in another coalition) and at that point there will be a mandate for marriage equality (and probably an even more determined effort to get it if it is denied in this Parliament). The Coalition for Marriage are simply delaying the argument rather than doing anything to "save traditional marriage". It is the response of political cowards unable (or unwilling) to persuade Members of Parliament of the rightness of their own argument.

A sham consultation – it deliberately ignored 500,000 people. 

That is because they didn't send in consultation responses advising the Government on how to implement marriage equality. They were petition signatories. Though their views are quite valid and certainly should be made clear to their MPs, petition signatories aren't very useful responses to consultations. Perhaps if they had written a response with their reasons for opposition it would've been both more impressive, more convincing and perhaps more effective. And a "tyranny of the majority" isn't a convincing moral argument against equal marriage.
The Government had been absolutely firm in the consultation document that same-sex weddings would not be allowed on religious premises. Those who responded to the consultation, relying in good faith in the Government’s assurances about religious premises, found that the Government’s final proposals were radically different to those on which it consulted. Shortly before Christmas, the Government announced a major policy U-turn: same-sex ceremonies will after all be introduced in churches as well as in civil settings.
Well actually... the Church of England made it quite clear to the Government, in their response to the consultation, that the Government simply could not create a whole new concept of "civil" marriage and that it would have to include religious ceremonies too or face legal consequences. The Government listened. Complaining that the Government didn't listen to consultation responses but then also complaining that they did in the very next paragraph shows a remarkable inability to follow through on the logic of your own argument.

No popular support – proper polls show the public doesn’t want it.

The Coalition for Marriage's "proper polls" have been carefully criticised before here. And again... tyranny of the majority arguments can lead to some unfortunate consequences. Will the Coalition for Marriage be happy if/when there is a majority of non-Christians in this country deciding what to do with those meddlesome followers of Christ?

Impact on schools – teachers that refuse to endorse this will be sacked.

A complicated argument this one. I do have sympathy for those who are sacked for their beliefs and sometimes for their actions. Such as those sacked in other countries for supporting equal marriage or even for just getting married themselves. And I have sympathy for those facing the sack in Catholic church run schools here in the UK for their own beliefs.  In contrast to the Catholic church's rather public declaration of its intent to undermine the rights of teachers and parents, the Government has been far more vocal in support of the right of teachers.

So I have to ask... who are you trying to convince? On one hand we have people who run schools determined to stop equal marriage being discussed and on the other you have the equal marriage supporting Government declaring that teachers should have the freedom to their own beliefs but should teach a broader picture to children so that they can, with the evidence given, come to their own conclusions.

Alter the meaning of words – ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ will get new meanings.

I refer the Coalition for Marriage to their use of "proper" in the polling statement above.

Undermine marriage – marriage has declined in nations that have redefined it.

Marriage was declining in these countries BEFORE the redefinition and continues in countries that haven't introduced equal marriage (Italy's drop in marriages since equal marriage was introduced in Spain almost exactly mirrors Spain's [some data here]). See also Fact Checks chart. The fall in marriage is obviously a problem for those who consider it important but solving this drop isn't going to be as easy as stopping equal marriage.

Costly and complex – could set off a legal chain reaction eventually costing £5bn.

The cost comes from... allowing heterosexuals the right to perform a civil partnership (this isn't up for a vote on Tuesday) and them getting allsorts of benefits that they wouldn't have unless they married. Which is what the Coalition for Marriage wants them to do anyway. I'm pretty confused as to what the Coalition for Marriage is saying here. Ban marriage completely to save money?

Ignores children’s needs – marriage becomes all about the rights of adults.

Finally an argument on the meat of the matter. It ignores that many LGBT people have children. And not just through surrogacy and adoption. Ultimately this argument moves on to one about something far greater than same-sex marriage; the nature of modern marriage itself with relatively easy divorces and children born out of wedlock. It something that is clearly outlined in "What is Marriage?" and is something I'm not utterly convinced on as once taken to its conclusion it involves marriage being about what is best for the state rather than what is best for children or adults.

Leaves churches vulnerable – Government protections can’t be guaranteed.

Nothing is guaranteed. But I think the Government's quadruple lock, if nothing else, shows the good intentions of those of us on the equal marriage side of the argument. We do not want to force churches to do anything they don't want to with regards to who they marry. And I've dealt with the ECHR arguments in more detail here.

Under its Human Rights Charter section later on it tells us that the European Convention on Human Rights doesn't support marriage equality which sort of undermines its argument that the European Court of Human Rights will find against churches religious freedom.

People will be punished – treated like outcasts for believing in traditional marriage.

1) I refer to the Coalition for Marriage's obvious support for a "tyranny of the majority". Then they suggest people shouldn't be punished for holding views that are unpopular (and surely this undermines their argument that their views are popular!!).

2) I refer above to the Catholic church's similar beliefs in punishing employees who disagree with them. Ultimately there is another greater argument here, one I've dealt with before.

Further redefinitions – once you start, where does it end?

Firstly some of the "redefinitions" they quote are on civil unions (see their "equality isn't uniformity" section for their support of civil unions). And secondly... and? It perhaps ends here.

Splitting Church and State – it is a recipe for disestablishment.

Which will lead to greater religious freedom for the Church of England. No more distress in Parliament when the Church of England makes a decision Westminster doesn't like. And no Bishops in our legislature. All round a good thing.

Equality isn’t uniformity – equality already exists, there’s no need for this.

I've have tackled this old argument many times, but I'll point you to this post. Civil partnerships aren't even equality and the fact the Coalition for Marriage sees there is no consummation or adultery for same-sex couples shows this legislation isn't uniformity.