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Craig Whittaker

From Rev Tony Buglass

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Well, I'm not surprised to see that Craig is against same-sex marriage, but I'm deeply disappointed in the poor quality of his arguments against it. If he were my student in a philosophy of religion class, and that were his essay, it would be sent back with a big F on it and rather a lot red ink. (I always marked essays in red ink, 'cos that's what my teachers did...)

In the first place, the comment that marriage is presently child-centred rather than adult-centred is utter nonsense. I've probably conducted many more marriages than Craig has ever attended, and I can state with great confidence that it is not about children and is not centred on children. It might result in children, there may even be already children involved, but that is not what marriage is about. It is about two people giving themselves to each other. If children are the purpose, does he expect me to refuse to marry those who are either beyond child-bearing age or wish to have none?

In the second place, the so-called list of unintended consequences is he most transparent scare-tactics I've seen in a long time, and is no more than the fallacy of the slippery slope. Just because something might happen doesn't say it will happen. If that were true, then heterosexual marriage should be avoided because one-third of all marriages end in divorce - you don't want to go through that, do you? So don't marry!!

This blog entry is shameful. It isn't reasons for not voting, it's excuses. But then, anyone can see that, can't they?

From Andy M

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Well said Tony; I think you have summed it up perfectly.

What I find objectionable is the way that examples from other countries are held up for derision without even any qualifying 'evidence' that they might not be good judgements; apart from the presumption that we all automatically condemn such things - xenophobia and discrimination at the same time. Mr Whittaker clearly does find his examples unpalatable but don't tar the rest of us with your reactionary brush thank you!

I will, however, give him some credit for attempting to explain his motives, which, I presume, are made within the compass of his own experience of more than one heterosexual marriage.

From Ruth Walker-Cotton

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The government proposal for equal marriage is simply that - equality for all. it is hard to see what is so controversial about providing equality in law and choice for all in the country.

As Rev Buglass already described eloquently, marriage is not simply about children, people choose to commit to each other for many reasons, and all should be allowed to do so.

As a lesbian with two children, I would like to choose for myself whether I can bring my children up within the "stability of marriage" that Craig Whittaker describes, rather than him deciding for me that I am not allowed to do so. He states that it is not discriminatory to keep people from marriage because of their sexuality - well, those in the majority rarely feel their rules are discriminatory because they are not suffering from those judgements. I am in a civil partnership and I consider I am discriminated against because I want to be allowed marriage.

Finally, I find Mr Whittakers arguments flimsy and offensive - I would however like to reassure him that having been in a relationship for 15 years, I don't think a marriage certificate will turn my thoughts immediately to polygamy.

The government is currently running a consultation on equal marriage until 14 June. I urge all to fill in this brief consultation form.

From Richard Scorer

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tony I agree with you that Craig Whittaker's arguments are pretty poor, and I agree with you in supporting same sex marriage. Your comments are welcome as this issue is often presented as a debate between religious opponents of same sex marriage and non religious supporters of it, but your comments confirm what ought to be stated more widely which is that there are religious views in both camps and for example, liberal Jews, Quakers, many C of E, United Reformed church, Unitarians etc support same sex marriage.

That said, from a legal perspective, the introduction of same sex marriage would pose more challenges to religions than many people realise. The European Court of Human Rights decided in 2007 that whilst there is no obligation on member countries to introduce same sex marriage, if they do introduce it, this has to be done on exactly the same basis as heterosexual marriage.

In the UK, there is no difference between civil and religious marriage. They are in law the same thing. They just take place on different premises. In a UK context this probably means that any church which is registered to conduct heterosexual marriage would have to be willing to conduct same sex marriage. This has obvious implications for all churches, e.g. The Catholic church would not be able to refuse a same sex marriage request. I expected before reading Craig's blog that he would make that point, rather than trotting out a load of tendentious nonsense about polygamy.

As I say I support same sex marriage, it is one of those issues where faith cannot be used as a pretext to deny a fundamental civil right, but the implications for churches are wider than many people appreciate.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 13 May 2012

I don't think I'm alone in appreciating the irony of our hapless MP lecturing us on how only a marriage between a man and a woman can deliver a happy and stable family.

From Ruth Walker-Cotton

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Just to clarify that the Government's consultation is for civil marriage - ie in a registry office or approved venue. It is not currently proposing any changes to religious marriage.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 14 May 2012

Interesting that there is no suggestion from our MP that he'll consult his constituents before deciding how to vote. He may regret going intellectually solo given that, as Tony points out, his argument on this issue derails after a mere thirty-one words. If he can't even set off from the right premise, one must question his ability to arrive at the right conclusion on anything.

From Heidi Waddington

Monday, 14 May 2012

I totally agree with all of the comments already posted. What really concerns me most though is that this is the man who is supposed to be our "voice" in Parliament! Where is the consultation on this? I am pretty sure that a large proportion of the Hebden Bridge part of the constituency do not share his (backward) views.

To address a couple of his arguments:

"In Holland, same-sex marriage was introduced in 2001. Since then, three way relationships have been given legal recognition through a 'cohabitation agreement'" And this is a problem because?....

"Mexico City introduced same-sex marriage in 2009 and now two year fixed marriages have been proposed. Instead of divorce the two year marriage is not renewed." This would have saved me a fortune on divorce fees when I found out my husband was having an affair less than 12 months into our marriage!

"In Spain same-sex marriage was legalised in 2005. The following year it was announced that birth certificates would read 'Progenitor A' and 'Progenitor B' instead of 'Father' and 'Mother'." And?!

"In Massachusetts a court in 2003 said that same-sex marriage had to be legalised and gave six months for it to be introduced. In response the state department of Public Health changed the standard marriage certificate to read 'Party A' and 'Party B' instead of 'Husband' and 'Wife' "
Does he propose then that same sex couples should refer to each other in the traditional gender specific roles of husband and wife? would he prefer that lesbian couples chose which one "is the man"?!

"In Canada, same-sex marriage legislation in 2005 replaced the term 'Natural Parent' with 'Legal Parent' in Canadian Law. In January 2007, an Ontario appeal court ruled that a child can legally have three parents. In British Columbia there are major attempts to legalise polygamy through the courts using the precedent of same-sex marriage."

And this one is maybe my favourite! since Mr Whittaker goes to great lengths to extol the virtues of marriage as an ancient institution, citing it as being "as old as the hills" I wonder where he stands on the fact that historically, polygamous marriages were the norm in pre-christian times?! If he wants to preserve the ancient rite of marriage in its purest form, he should be pushing for legislation for harems to be legally recognised and for the rights of men to take as many wives as they choose.

I feel a letter coming on - perhaps even a "not in my name" placard. I do not want this man to speak on my behalf on this issue. I would urge you all to write to Mr Whittaker requesting that he takes steps to ensure he is representing the views of his constituents.


"Marriage has a unique place in our society. It is a bedrock institution and the most stable environment for raising children. Redefining marriage would make marriage adult-centred rather than child-centred."

Can we assume then that Mr Whitaker will be asking Parliament to consider banning marriage for couples who do not wish to (or are unable to) have children and also that no post-menopausal woman should be allowed to marry? Since, clearly they are not marrying for "child-centred" reasons?.....

From Dave J

Monday, 14 May 2012

Have I got this right? Craig Whittaker's first marriage ended in divorce (at least that's what an article in the Halifax Courier suggests) so he has married again yet at the same time he plans to do his best to prevent those in same-sex relationships from marrying just once? You couldn't make it up could you?

From Mrs. Mill

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A year ago I was very happy with civil marriages, but the argument against same sex marriage has brought out so much stupidity and bigotry from the likes of our MP - that now I am absolutely in favour of increasing the equality as soon as possible.

Does Craig really represent the people and views of the Calder Valley? I have written to our MP asking him to reconsider his views and consider his constituancy.

From Andy M

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

It is ironic that after a silence on his website for many weeks following his own personal problems that he then feels the need to start commenting negatively on others peoples personal arrangements. It's this mixture of arrogance and intolerance - combined with a near total lack of empathy - that so characterises his party's politics.

From Hazel D

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I find the link at the bottom of his blog interesting.

From Joan Taylor

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I must say I find the responses to Craigs statement measured and sensible.

What did he expect the people of Hebden Bridge to do, sit back and say 'Go Craigy Baby'. I feel that he really should have thought a little first he is not voting in his own name, he is voting in the names of the people that elected him. He does not have the right to make such a statement in the name of his constituents without discussion, particularly on an issue that affects so many people.

I am not an inhabitant of Hebden but have many friends there and I know that the town prides itself on acceptance and inclusion. Craigs statement was ill thought and niave, and very possibly an insult to this small town.

Tony Buglass' response was very welcome and an antidote to such narrow opinions.

From David Telford

Thursday, 17 May 2012

I'm fairly neutral, we have civil partnerships and don't really see the difference that marriage would make but nevertheless, I'm not against gay marriage – if nothing else it will be a stylish party.

I do, however, agree with the MP that marriage is child-centered rather than adult-centred. Whilst there isn't a particular reason, statistically, couples who are married stay together when compared to those who aren't. Single parents do cost the state more than married couples and for this reason it's worth the state encouraging marriage to avoid financing the cost of a broken family.

From Bernard B

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Whilst I don't agree with Craig Whittaker's view, I think the real irony here is that a Reverend minister has taken it upon himself to lead the criticisms. Have the Methodists been pro-gay since Wesley? I didn't think so. And name a Christian sect that is averse to using the fallacy of the slippery slope when it suits them, Quakers excepted. Craig Whittaker specifically denies religious motivation, so Tony Buglass is wrong to look for any religious perspective. Especially when there is a whole paragraph of historical piffle to pick at, and, as far as I can tell, no actual argument.

One important thing Craig does touch on is the need to reassess what information is recorded on the birth certificate: recording a birth mother and nominal father is clearly an anachronism. Having read his blog, I now strongly favour the use of the terms "Progenitor A" and "Progenitor B", with space for "Progenitor C" to be recorded where applicable. This change could be made as part of the same tidying-up exercise that is the allowing of same-sex civil marriage.

From Anne H

Thursday, 17 May 2012

I think it is very unlikely that many people from Hebden Bridge voted for him. His constituency includes 8 other wards and he might very well believe that the people in those other wards do agree with him about this - after all quite a lot of them voted for him, knowing his views. He might even have consulted with some of them. Isn't he just representing the people who voted him in (and might do next time) and ignoring the rest? I'm not saying it's the right way to behave as a politician but a lot of them do it

From Jonathan Timbers

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Whether Craig's poorly argued blog entry on gay marriages goes down well in other areas in the constituency or not, it still concerns me because of its lack of coherence or reasoning.

It also puts him on the right wing of his own party and in conflict with the Home Secretary, whose department is promoting action across government to counter the violence, harassment and discrimination that Lesbian, Gay and Trans people face daily

Although marriage is obviously about the coming together of two people, it is a relatively stable arrangement to have children, as David Telford says. That is why the arrangement should be on offer to Lesbian and Gay and Trans people, many of whom now have children.

I disagree that the Rev Bugloss's views are a cover for the purported homophobia of Christian Churchs. I presume that, like me, he is a Christian who supports gay marriage.There are different views across all denomination about this issue, including Quakers, not all of whom support gay marriage, even if the majority most definitely do. And a number of fairly orthodox churches in America and Canada already support gay marriage. In South Africa, Desmond Tutu - an Anglican Archbishop - memorably referred to Christian discrimination against Lesbian and Gay people as 'the ultimate blasphemy'. So the debate rumbles on, but in the mean time I support the government's stance on this issue and pray that they legislate soon.

From Roger N

Thursday, 17 May 2012

I actually find it quite refreshing that a politician actually says what he believes, rather than kowtow to his electorate and tell them what he thinks they want to hear. Only in a place like Hebden Bridge – touchy, trendy and oh-so-self conscious – could such frankness and honesty be condemned.

Secondly, I was interested in Rev Buglass' statement concerning Mr Whitaker's blog. He says: '(Mr Whitaker's) comment that marriage is presently child-centred rather than adult-centred is utter nonsense'. My limited experience of religious ceremony contradicts this. As the text from the Book of Common Prayer says about the reasons for marriage: 'First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.' Note that this is cited as the first reason for marriage, and could thus be construed as being the most important. Rev Buglass says, of marriage, : ' It might result in children, there may even be already children involved, but that is not what marriage is about'. An interesting interpretation of the scriptures!

From Dave M

Thursday, 17 May 2012

No matter how long and hard I think about it I can't see how the allegedly 'child centred' nature of heterosexual marriage is going to be harmed by allowing same sex marriage. Calderdale Conservatives must have been pretty hard up for a candidate when Craig was selected. Wonder what odds I will get that he doesn't get a second run. Low I think.

From David Telford

Friday, 18 May 2012

Dave M, either I misunderstood Craig's point or you have.

The way I see it is that marriage is primarily a bond that tends to keep a couple together. There is little real need as far as society is concerned that a coupled stay together unless there are children, however, where there are kids, it is (in the majority of cases) preferable and cheaper for the parents to stay together and bring up their child. In a same sex relationship, the need for that bond is not really needed as the couple do not have a child in that relationship.

I'm not against gay marriage, I'd object to the compulsion for institutions to marry gay couples as that is their individual call. How much difference is there in a civil partnership v a marriage?

From Rev Tony Buglass

Friday, 18 May 2012

Bernard ponders whether Methodists have been pro-gay since Wesley - well, this Methodist has been 'pro-gay' for some time. As I am regularly reminded by a friend whose political affiliations are at what I consider to be the wrong end of the spectrum, Mr Wesley was a Tory - if we were required to follow his example, I would not be a Methodist! But one point where I do agree with him is when he argued "there is no holiness without social holiness" - in other words what we believe always has a political and social application. You cannot separate religion and politics. However, what I was arguing does not depend on the religious perspective but works equally well from a secular understanding of justice.

Which brings me to Roger's point about the purpose of marriage. I know what the Book of Common Prayer says, and I don't accept it. If you want to define marriage look at what actually happens in the service: vows are made by two adults, who commit to each other for life. Yes, it does provide a secure relationship through which "children may be nurtured, family life strengthened, and human society enriched" (from the Methodist marriage service). If the purpose of marriage was to have children, would I therefore be forced to refuse to marry couples who could not or did not wish to have children? Sorry - I repeat, Craig's argument that marriage is child-centred rather than adult-centred is nonsense: the vows are made by adults for the purposes of a committed adult relationship, which may result in children, but does not necessarily do so.

As to my views being "an interesting interpretation of the scriptures" - which scriptures did you have in mind? There are several models of marriage within the span of the biblical texts, including polygamy and concubinage, forced marriage to rapists, enforced marriage of the widow to the brother(s) of the deceased, etc - I'm not sure which you'd rather I supported. When Jesus talked about marriage (Mark.10:7) he quoted the Genesis creation story (Gen.2:24) about the man and woman becoming one - he didn't mention children as the purpose for marriage, so I don't agree with the BCP when it does so. That says more about 16th C English religion than it does about the nature of marriage.

What I believe as a Christian coincides perfectly with the logic of extending legal marriage to same-sex couples. None of the arguments advanced by Craig hold water. The American commentator Rush Limbaugh entered the debate last week when President Obama said he would support same-sex marriage, accusing him of attacking traditional marriage. Limbaugh's fourth wife was not available for comment...

From Ben Plumpton

Saturday, 19 May 2012

In Hebden Bridge of all places, it's very strange for Craig Whittaker (who presumably doesn't spend much time here) to believe that lesbian and gay people don't want or have children. One of the great things about bringing up our children in Hebden Bridge, as a lesbian family, has been the number of other lesbian families around!

Ben Plumpton (Ms, in case you thought the name Ben was exclusively male!)

From Ruth Walker-Cotton

Saturday, 19 May 2012

David Telford states that the bond of marriage "is not really needed as a same sex couple do not have a child in that relationship". I am sure he is aware that many same sex couples now do have children, and so can only assume he is considering that only the birth parent is the "real" parent. If so, it is a misinformed and offensive statement. Many parents are not genetically linked to their child, whether gay or adoptive or using donor eggs or sperm with infertility. Would he be so bold as to say that all these types of family "do not have a child in that relationship"?

However, this kind of debate as to parentage is surely a distraction - the issue of same sex marriage is simply about equality. nothing more, nothing less. All people should have the right to choose whether they commit in marriage or not.

From James Baker

Friday, 25 May 2012

It doesn't surprise me that some Conservatives are socially conservative. Particularly if they are a Conservative from Calderdale. I'm pleased equal marriage is on the agenda, Lynne Featherstone has done a good job in pushing this within the coalition.

The issue of whether churches should be forced to marry people under equality legislation should I think be taken as a separate issue from whether gay people should have the same rights to marry as heterosexual people.

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 25 May 2012

I note that the Conservative - Liberal Democrat government has denied Calder High the funds it so desperately needs to renovate its buildings, even though this would boost jobs and growth in the area and improve life for local children. It seems that Craig failed to convince his own government to channel money to Calder Valley, even though it is a key marginal. That says a lot about the regard in which he is held by Cameron-Clegg. The poor quality of thought demonstrated by his blog goes some way to explaining his lack of influence with his own party in coalition with the Lib Dems. He needs to spend less time listening and responding to backbench chatter and more on focussing on his job, which is to get the best deal for his constituency.

From Ian M

Friday, 25 May 2012

Perhaps if the previous Labour administration hadn't spent 13 years underfunding the schools rebuilding program, there wouldn't be 560 schools needing so much renovation work!

From Stuart S

Friday, 25 May 2012

Really disappointed to hear that our schools have missed out on this programme but sadly our ineffectual MP has zero influence even amongst his own party to help his own area. I am not surprised by him and his woeful efforts as I recently contacted him and eventually received a response not remotely related to the question I asked and nearly 1 month late.

From Jan Bridget

Saturday, 26 May 2012

At least Craig Whittaker is consistent in his homophobia.

Homophobic bullying is rife across schools in the UK, including schools in Calderdale:

In January 2011 in response to LGBT Charity Schools Out publishing guidance for teachers on how they can make more references to LGBT people during lessons, Craig Whittaker, a member of the education select committee, told the Daily Mail: "We are too far down the national comparative league tables in core subjects. Teachers should concentrate on those again. This is not about being homophobic, because there are other schemes around the education which support the LGBT agenda."

A couple of years before, when two members of GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale) attended the Calderdale Youth Council to discuss bullying, Craig Whittaker, as chair of Calderdale's Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel, was in attendance. When one of our members asked him what Calderdale could do about homophobic bullying, he replied that he was only concerned about real bullying.

I think we get the message…

From James Baker

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Stuart, I wrote to Craig and had a similar experience a reply letter about drug liberalisation and got a letter back that completely missed the point. Then a month later I got the same letter sent again.

Most MPs do not personally write every reply, because they get so many letters their case workers tend to draft a reply based on a stock template response.

I assume his caseworker just copy and pasted the wrong letter back to me. Doesn't really fill you with much faith.

Regarding Calder High, it is a real shame it didn't get any money. As Liam Byrne said when he left the treasury " I'm afraid to tell you there is no money left". In those circumstances it's tough for the government to hand out cash. Still he should have fought harder for our local area. Gordon Birtwistle managed to lobby and get cash for the Burnley curve to be put back in, so it is possible if you have the skill to fight for your area.

From Ian M

Monday, 28 May 2012

Jan, Homophobic bullying is rife across schools in the UK!

I have three children in school in Calderdale and I can confidently state Homophobic or racist bullying is not rife.

Now Kids being horrid to one another, maybe!

From Jan Bridget

Monday, 28 May 2012

We will have to disagree.

My own research at GALYIC found that 92% of the fifty members interviewed had experienced bullying in schools. This included bullying because the victim was disabled, minority ethnic, or simply because they 'looked different.'

However, 76% of members had experienced homophobic bullying: bullying based on the belief that the victim is known or suspected to be gay. All schools in Calderdale are affected.

That research was conducted between 2005 and 2008. During the period 2010-2011, based on 30 interviews, 65% had experienced homophobic abuse and 85% had witnessed it. So not much has changed.

Unless there has been a miraculous improvement since GALYIC closed in November last year – and I very much doubt it – then I would stand by these findings.

Of course, these are small numbers. Stonewall are about to publish a new report on 5th July based on 6,400 lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in the UK. It will be interesting to see the results.

We know that there are a handful of schools who can be held up as examples of good practice but these are few and far between.

Update: This link to the GALYIC news section covers various stories from around the world about homophobic bullying and how different countries are trying to tackle it.

Sadly, although the problem is just as great in the UK, there is little acknowledgement.

The investigation into a school in Florida just about sums up the situation here - it is happening but there is one great denial, i.e. kids being horrid to each other!

From Damian Lazenby

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I support what Jan Bridget is saying here. My own years at Calder High are now ancient history, but what I hear from friends and relatives leads me to believe that the situation in Calderdale schools, and perhaps schools elsewhere has not moved on significantly in the last 20 years.

Living in London as I now do, has given me perspective on my personal experiences and of those I am still in contact with in and around Calderdale, and in particular Hebden Bridge, a number of whom have more recent or even current experience of the educational system.

Homophobia is still rife and doing serious damage to young people homo and hetrosexual alike, either through being on the receiving end of bullying, or the warped values inherited in a society that accepts homophobia.

Citizens of Hebden Bridge should not relax in the belief that they live in a tolerant free thinking enclave, the schools, councils and communities of places such as Tottengam and Hackney, derided as inner cities, and viewed as squalid are light years ahead in tolerance.

Jan has devoted her life to these issues and speaks from a position of knowledge rather than one of conceited middle class comfort. Craig Whitaker is a disgrace and his views will damage yet another generation.

From Jonathan Timbers

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I entirely agree with what Jan Bridget says, which is supported by every national study about schools that I am aware of.

Furthermore, I think it is also important to note what OFSTED inspectors say they found in the school:

'Groups of students who spoke to inspectors highlighted concerns about racist remarks . . . Inspectors agree with their concerns'.

It's so easy to ignore racism and homophobia - that's why both are so prevalent. I hope these concerns are not lost in all the controversy concerning the current head.