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Family values: Who’s the real heretic here?


Richard Page was dismissed as a magistrate in 2016 by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice. What terrible crime had he committed? He had dared to suggest that it is better for a child to be brought up by a mother and a father than by two men. Such a statement amounts to heresy in today’s politically correct, LGBTQIA+ affirming world. ‘How could you even think such a thing?’ ‘How outdated.’ ‘How uninformed.’ ‘How biased.’ ‘How bigoted.’ ‘How homophobic.’ Etc. The mere expression of such ‘heresy’ was enough to persuade the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice that Page was not fit to serve as a magistrate. Forget his 20-year exemplary track record. He is biased and has brought the judiciary into disrepute. He should be dismissed.

Meanwhile, Sir James Munby, the former head of the family court, has said that women should be allowed to sell their wombs online. He also defended the right of women in their 50s and 60s to have children. In a lecture this year, while still president of the family court, he stated that the breakdown of traditional family and the rise of alternative families should be welcomed and applauded:

‘In contemporary Britain the family takes an almost infinite variety of forms. Many marry according to the rites of non-Christian faiths. People live together as couples, married or not, and with partners who may not always be of the other sex. Children live in households where their parents may be married or unmarried. They may be brought up by a single parent, by two parents or even by three parents. Their parents may or may not be their natural parents. They may be children of parents with very different religious, ethnic or national backgrounds. They may be the children of polygamous marriages. Their siblings may be only half-siblings or step-siblings. Some children are brought up by two parents of the same sex. Some children are conceived by artificial donor insemination. Some are the result of surrogacy arrangements. The fact is that many adults and children, whether through choice or circumstance, live in families more or less removed from what, until comparatively recently, would have been recognised as the typical nuclear family. This, I stress, is not merely the reality; it is, I believe, a reality which we should welcome and applaud.’

Sir James appears to have no interest in what family structure is best for the children. He wants to welcome and applaud polygamy, surrogacy, three parents, single parents, whatever form of family people choose. Unsurprisingly, Sir James was not summarily dismissed for ‘heresy’ or for bringing the judiciary into disrepute. I submit, nevertheless, that it would have made more sense for him to be so dismissed than it did for Richard Page.

Traditional marriage is, after all, the most stable form of family. Stability benefits children. Therefore, society as a whole, not to mention family judges, should prefer that children are brought up by heterosexually married couples. This is simple logic and it should not be heretical to say it. It is children who suffer the most from family breakdown.

What of same-sex parents? Is Page correct to state that it is in a child’s best interests to be bought up by a man and a woman rather than two men? A new book attempts to answer precisely this question. Same-Sex Parenting Research: A Critical Assessment by Walter Schumm has just been published by Wilberforce Publications. It is a review of the literature on same-sex parenting which examines nearly 400 studies. A more careful attempt to answer the question could hardly be imagined. A substantial portion of the book examines methodology. In every section Schumm discusses: What has been claimed? What do we know? Limitations, suggestions for future research, and conclusions. Schumm is meticulously cautious in what he concludes. A few brief comments can hardly do it justice. (A longer review is available here.) Suffice to say that one of the conclusions is that the stability of the relationship between same-sex parents is lower than for heterosexual parents. This alone supports Page’s assertions. There is much more to consider.

Richard Page was granted permission to take his case against the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice to the Employment Appeal Tribunal last month. In a rare moment of common sense, the court recognised the importance of his case for the fundamental role of an independent judiciary in a democratic society. If judges can be dismissed for expressing views that are manifestly and demonstrably true, then we no longer have a functioning democracy – we are in the world of totalitarianism.

I, for one, will be watching this case with interest. Page’s dismissal is totalitarianism of the most extreme form. He was defending the best interests of a child. For this he was dismissed. I hope we will see an outbreak of common sense all round, but I am not holding my breath.

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Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe
Tim Dieppe is Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern.

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