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Conspiracy of silence on value of marriage: Politicians frightened to admit fathers are vital, says top family lawyer
Supporting marriage has become
a 'no go area' for our politicians says Baroness Deech
Politicians are 'too afraid' of offending cohabiting partners or single parents
By Steve Doughty
Marriage is as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty, a senior family lawyer said yesterday.
Baroness Deech said the growing numbers of families without fathers was doing more harm to the next generation than other factors such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.
And she warned that a conspiracy of silence surrounded the issue because political leaders were afraid to say married families were better for children than cohabiting families or single parent families.
Lady Deech, who is head of the Bar Standards Board, made her remarks at a conference organised by the Marriage Foundation, a pressure group led by High Court family judge Sir Paul Coleridge. She said marriage was based on a public promise and evidence showed married parents were twice as likely to stay together through a child’s early years as cohabiting parents.
Children of single mothers have greater problems than those of cohabitee parents, and children of cohabitees have greater problems than those of married parents.
‘Since this is so incontrovertible, why is it so brave, as Sir Humphrey would put it, to tackle the desirability of marriage over cohabitation, both for adults and children?’ Lady Deech asked.
‘The topic has become a no-go area.
‘We live in a world where we are encouraged to take care of our own and our children’s health: we are constantly admonished to take exercise, eat healthily, wear a cycle helmet, study the side of the package, stop smoking, recycle, combat global warming, brush our teeth, control our drinking habits and have health checks.
But when it comes to the one issue that does more harm to the next generation than any of these – the absence of a father in the family – there is a conspiracy of silence.
‘Politicians fear to address it. It is time to place marriage issues up there along with climate change, poverty and peace as a topic pre-eminently relevant to the present and future happiness and health of all people.’
Lady Deech said those who favoured cohabitation often said marriage was ‘only a piece of paper’, adding: ‘It is clearly a very important piece of paper, nonetheless, of the utmost significance to life, equal love and happiness, say the gay community, when gay marriage is on the agenda.’
Other kinds of relationship are seen as lesser than marriage, she added.
‘Children deserve natural parents who are prepared to make the act of commitment and aspiration found only in marriage, in order to demonstrate to those children that they intend to be there for them, without question, as they grow up.
‘The wedding ceremony highlights the fact that marriage is the strongest bond ever invented to link together two people and two families, for now and posterity – intimately, legally, politically, religiously, civilly and publicly.’
Lady Deech added that same-sex couples who have entered civil partnerships are pressing to have marriage, which is seen as a ‘better alternative’.
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