“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.”
Kate Green, the Shadow Minister of State for Equalities, said the comments were “hugely insulting, offensive and wrong”.
The Welsh branch of gay rights organisation Stonewall said they were “saddened that the secretary of state for Wales should make such an offensive and inaccurate remark.”
The spokesman continued:
“There are many different types of family in Wales today, including many same sex couples raising children. It’s deeply undermining to families and children when they hear this sort of ill-informed comment.”
But Jones insisted that he was “fully supportive” of committed same sex relationships. He said:
“I took the view that marriage is an institution that has developed over the centuries so as to provide a safe and warm environment for the upbringing of children. I made the point of stressing that I was fully supportive of committed same sex relationships. I also strongly approve of civil partnerships…..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.”
Meanwhile the government has announced that registrars with a religious objection to gay marriage will not able to opt out of conducting the ceremonies.
New guidance, issued to MPs, notes that registrars are public officials:
“Registrars are employed to deliver a public function and may be required to solemnise same sex marriages. This is similar to requirements that have been placed on some registrars since the Civil Partnerships Act 2004, meaning many have been required to perform civil partnerships as part of their duties.”
Religious organisations, by contrast will not be required to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies.
The guidance, from Equality and Human Rights Commission, included an analysis of the human rights implications the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill. It and was issued to MPs as they continue scrutiny for the bill, which passed its second reading in the House of Commons earlier this month.
Photo by Archie McPhee via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence