Surrey Heath Coalition for Marriage Event – Podcast

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Description: Paul Deach attends the Surrey Heath Coalition for Marriage event and talks to Geoffrey Vero (President of the Surrey Heath Conservative Association) Lavinia Sealy (Chairman of Surrey County Council) and Revd Bruce Nicole (Vicar St Michaels Church, Camberley) about their views on the proposals by the Prime Minister to grant gay couples right to marry. The proposals have been backed by Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove.

68 thoughts on “Surrey Heath Coalition for Marriage Event – Podcast

  1. Anonymous

    Wow, rarely these days do you hear such ignorant and intolerant views. Laviania Sealy makes me feel ashamed to be a conservative. Sadly, and more surprisingly, so does Paul Deech. To say you are in favour of equal marriage rights for same sex couples is probably just populist when I consider that you then go on to state that children are better brought up by a man and a woman. How insulting and ignorant. You even go on to say that there is “no question that children thrive in a family unit” and you talk about the “social impact”. Are you kidding me? You agree with gay marriage, but don’t agree that a gay marriage represents a family unit? Are gay people actually less capable of bringing up children, or is that just your opinion? Because you state your view as fact. To state there is “no question” is narrow minded, uneducated bigotry – you are demonstrating a level of inherent prejudice that is unsupported by fact. On balance the research certainly does not support your view – certainly with respect to two mothers (there is not so much research available with respect to two male parents). There has never been any reputable study that has shown heterosexuality itself is the quality that determines a good child-rearing environment.

    I have a number of gay friends and a number of straight friends. Some have children, some don’t. Some of these parents are amazing, some are not as amazing. The difference between them has NOTHING to do with their sexuality. I would say that what I have seen is that, generally, the children being brought up by gay couples have a closer relationship with their parents, they are growing up in a more “equitable” environment and they are already demonstrating a tolerance of diversity in their peers that I do not see in children in “conventional” families. The gay parents I know are also aware of the stigma their children may, unfortunately, face – a kind of institutionalised prejudice that you have demonstrated with your words and that will go unquestioned by most. Fortunately the world is developing and most people I know do not share your view of same sex parenting.

    It seems a small point to pick you up on given the wider scope of the discussion, but as a well known and influential member of our community I would appeal to you to be a little more open minded with regards to such issues. Let us not forget that it is not so long that is was acceptable to be against multiracial parenting. I would bet my hard earned money that in 10-15 years you will, without question, take those comments back.

    1. deachy Post author

      Thanks for this Anonymous. I don’t agree with Mrs Sealy’s views. But I do believe that children are better brought up in a stable family unit. Ill concede I don’t have any first hand experience with gay couples bringing up children but happy to be put right.

  2. Peter Barnes

    It certainly is a hot potato. I see that the latest response from on Feb 3rd “anonymous” is a firm believer in the status quo, but does not leave his/her name! The Tory party is out of touch – a fact that is confirmed by opinion polls finding in support of gay marriage. I reckon in another 15/20 years even the Tory party will come round, once the older generation has died out.

  3. Anonymous

    I believe in the definition and practice of marriage as it has stood over the centuries and see no reason why the government should change this. It is the union of one man and one woman. I don’t think the government should change this.. I have voted conservative all my life but will now seriously consider changing to another party.

  4. Doreen Costar

    The government should not try and force their laws on the Church, its nothing to do with the government. Are they also going to make this law in the Jewish and Muslim religions? I dont think so, they would never stand for it.

  5. Peter Barnes

    I think people should boycott the Daily Mail, as it so homophopic it is outdated & offensive. Glad to say our Tory MP is backing the proposal.

  6. Blackbird Pie

  7. Natalie Speller

    She should stand down, this woman is only adding to an already racist view held by many, if she believes in it being ok for same sex relationships and civil marriages then what’s her bloody argument! My god this makes me angry, so what if a child has a mummy or a daddy, many children are brought up by hard working single parents and are some of the most loving and respectful children I know, they only have one parent to love them, surely having two parents irrelevant of sex is even better?… OPEN your mind or CLOSE your mouth! Stupid stupid woman!

  8. Bob Garrett

    The Conservative party is a broad church where you can have a common goal with different ways of getting there.
    She is out of touch with the party and modern Britain and needs to stop talking about de-selection!
    It is her who should think about her future!

  9. Blackbird Pie

  10. Simon

    I feel I need to comment on your podcast on the issue of gay marriage. I was quite disappointed with some of the content, especially from Lavinia Sealy who once taught me at Fullbrook School and is someone that I highly respect.

    On the one hand I understand why some people hold these opinions but on the other hand, they are clearly homophobic views. Much as the participants dislike being branded as homophobic, there is no escaping the negative attitudes and feelings expressed.

    My girlfriend’s sister is gay and if I compare her and her partner’s social and parenting skills to any number of ‘normal’ couples then they would win hands down. Being straight does not automatically define you as being a good person, constructive within your community, law abiding, possessing a natural ability to raise children or exempt you from ‘fiddling around with medical ethics’ as was mentioned (think unnecessary elective C-sections, fertility treatment, abortion, cosmetic surgery etc).

    You’re right that most people don’t care and by that definition they are not opposed. It is a prejudiced minority discriminating against another minority who in no way played any part in deciding or defining their own sexuality.

  11. James Trenchard

    Paul, If Vero is correct saying that 80% don’t care then they can be made to care by listening to Lavinia. I never realised what a poisonous, threatening and discriminatory person she is. Disgusting. I hope she will be de-selected very soon.

  12. John Smith

    I find the comments of Surrey County Council Chairman deeply offensive. She should be suspended immediately.

  13. Matt

    Interesting hearing the three views. What I’m still nor clear about is what gay marriage gives that civil partnerships don’t give – what exactly is the driver for this? At the moment it feels like the state redefining the word “marriage” for the sake of it.

    Whilst I support this, I do realise that you can oppose it without being a bigot and think it should be a matter of personal conscience. However, I don’t think it will be able to remain that way: no-one will be allowed to oppose the new state-defined orthodoxy. Whatever safe-guards the government builds in, churches and mosques will be forced to carry out gay marriage services. This will end up in the ECHR and you only need to look at recent judgments to see how they are likely to rule (

    My personal preference would be for the state to remove itself from marriage totally. It just provides a legal framework for a life-long contract between to co-habiting people, regardless of sex or relationship. It removes the pointless restrictions on where you can make the contract, what music you can have whilst making the contract etc. People can then sign and witness the contract where-ever they want, with whatever ceremony they fancy. And they can call it what they want.

    Perhaps then we can stop arguing about names and worry about practical ways to build the society we want to live in.

    1. vinnie

      Hi Matt, try reading the document sent out to all the MPs last Friday, perhpas Lavina should have been set a copy !


      MYTH: Allowing same-sex couples to marry will destroy the institution of marriage.

      REALITY: Marriage is a hugely important institution in this country. The principles of long-term commitment and responsibility which underpin it bind society together and make it stronger. The Government believes that we should not prevent people getting married unless there are very good reasons – and loving someone of the same sex is not one of them.

      MYTH: Marriage has not changed in hundreds of years.

      REALITY: Marriage is not static. It has always been an evolving institution. In the 19th century inequalities prevented Catholics, atheists, Baptists and many others from marrying except in the Anglican Church. In the 20th century the law was changed to recognise married men and married women as equal before law. Opening up marriage to all couples will strengthen the vital institution of marriage, and help ensure that it remains an essential building block of society.

      MYTH: Religious organisations or minister of religion will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.

      REALITY: This is not true. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill makes clear that no religious organisation or religious minister will be compelled to marry same-sex couples. A ‘quadruple lock’ of legal protections will ensure that all religious organisations are free to choose and can act according to their doctrines and beliefs.

      MYTH: The European Court of Human Rights will force religious organisations to conduct same-sex marriages.

      REALITY: The case law of the European Court of Human Rights makes it clear that same-sex marriage is a matter for individual states to decide. Any case before the Court would be brought against the UK Government, not a religious organisation. The Court would be bound to give priority to the rights of a religious organisation under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion.

      MYTH: The Church of England and Church in Wales have been banned by the Government from conducting same-sex marriages.

      REALITY: This is not true. Like every other religious organisation, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be able to decide for themselves whether and when to allow the marrying of same-sex couples according to their rites. The Bill contains specific measures to deal with the unique legal position of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. Unlike any other religious body in this country, their clergy have a specific (common law) legal duty to marry parishioners. The Bill makes clear that this duty is not extended to marriage of same-sex couples, and will ensure that Anglican Canon law does not conflict with civil law and can continue to state that for them marriage is between one man and one woman.

      MYTH: The Church of England and Church in Wales are being given extra protections.

      REALITY: The Bill contains specific measures to deal with the unique legal position of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The clergy of the Church of England and Church in Wales have a legal duty to marry parishioners. The Bill provides them with protection to address this point. The Bill also ensures that Church of England Canon law, which states their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, is not affected by this Bill. These provisions are required to take account of these Churches’ particular legal circumstances – they do not provide more, or less, protection than is given to other religious organisations.

      MYTH: The Church of England and Church in Wales were not consulted properly.

      REALITY: During the course of both the consultation and the drafting of the legislation, the Government has had numerous and detailed discussions with stakeholders about the provisions within the Bill. These discussions have included a number of religious organisations including the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the Church in Wales.

      MYTH: Teachers will have to promote same-sex marriage to pupils in sex and relationships education.

      REALITY: This is not true. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs. As with any other area of the curriculum teachers will of course be required to teach the factual position, that under the law marriage can be between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. There are many areas within teaching, particularly within faith schools, where this type of issue already arises and where subjects such as divorce are taught with sensitivity. The guidance governing these issues is the same guidance that will govern how same-sex marriage in the classroom will be approached. Sex and relationships education is categorically not about the promotion of a particular sexual orientation – that would be inappropriate teaching.

      MYTH: Teachers who oppose same-sex marriage will be sacked from their jobs.

      REALITY: Teachers will continue to have the clear right to express their own beliefs, or that of their faith in a professional way, such as that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs.

      MYTH: There is no difference between civil partnership and marriage.

      REALITY: There are some small legal differences between civil partnerships and marriage. But for many people there are important differences in the perception of and responsibilities associated with these separate institutions.

      MYTH: You are abolishing the terms ‘husband’, ‘wife’, ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

      REALITY: This is not true – these terms will continue to exist. ‘Husband’ will refer to a male marriage partner and ‘wife’ will refer to a female marriage partner, as now.

      MYTH: Not introducing civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples is unfair.

      REALITY: This is not true. We believe in the institution of marriage and we do not believe that opposite-sex couples are disadvantaged by not being able to enter into civil partnerships. This Bill is designed to remove the unfairness of same-sex couples being excluded from marriage.

      MYTH: This is the thin end of the wedge – further changes to the law to enable other groups to marry are likely.

      REALITY: This is simply not the case – we have absolutely no plans to amend the law on marriage in any other area.

      MYTH: You did not take into account the large number of petitions received opposing a change in the law.

      REALITY: 228,000 individuals and organisations responded to the consultation on how to open up marriage to same-sex couples. Additionally there were petitions for and against equal marriage. The largest was from the Coalition for Marriage against the proposals which contained over 500,000 signatures opposed to the proposals. The views expressed in the petitions were considered along with all the other responses received. However, the Government have always been clear that the consultation was focussed on how to implement a change in the law, rather than whether to change the law.

      MYTH: The Government has no mandate to introduce same-sex marriage.

      REALITY: The Conservative Party’s Contract for Equalities, published alongside its General Election Manifesto in 2010, set out clearly that we would consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage. Independent surveys, such as the one carried out by the Times in March 2012, show support by the general public with 65% thinking gay couples should have an equal right to marry, not just to have civil partnerships.

      MYTH: People will be sacked if they criticise same-sex marriage at work.

      REALITY: This is not true. We have always been absolutely clear that being able to follow your faith openly is a vital freedom that we will protect. Everyone is entitled to express their view about same-sex marriage, at work or elsewhere. No employee will be required to promote or endorse views about same-sex marriage which go against their conscience. But it is an entirely different matter to act in an offensive or discriminatory way because of someone’s sexual orientation and the two issues should not be confused.

      MYTH: The four recent European Court cases show that people are not free to follow their beliefs at work.

      REALITY: On the contrary, Ms Eweida won her right to wear a cross at work. These cases were not about same-sex marriage. However, we have always been absolutely clear that being able to follow your faith openly is a vital freedom that we will protect. We believe people should be able to wear discrete religious symbols, provided it doesn’t hinder or physically get in the way of their job. In the other cases the Court found that the needs of health and safety and the requirement not to discriminate against customers were relevant considerations, on the facts of those particular cases – it is all about striking a sensible balance, which our legislation does.

      MYTH: The Trafford Housing case with Adrian Smith shows that people can be sacked because of their religious beliefs.

      REALITY: Adrian Smith actually won his case in the High Court, a judgment which shows that expressing views about this type of issue in a measured and non-offensive manner does not permit an employer to discipline an employee. Any such action by an employer would be unlawful.

      MYTH: Local councils will stop giving religious groups contracts or letting them use their facilities if they refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.

      REALITY: This is not true. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from being discriminated against because of religious belief. Treating someone in this way because of their religious opposition to same-sex marriage would be unlawful discrimination. It would also be a misuse of the council’s powers if it penalised a religious body for doing something which is lawful.

      MYTH: This Bill is being rushed through Parliament and has not been properly thought through.

      REALITY: This is untrue. The Government is committed to introducing same-sex marriage and published a consultation in March 2012 which resulted in the biggest ever response to a UK consultation. The Minister for Women and Equalities made a statement to the house in December 2012 announcing the Government’s intention to bring forward legislation.

      MYTH: Polling shows that the public is not supportive of this policy.

      REALITY: This is untrue. Recent polling shows that there are a range of views on this subject. We know that there are many people who are in favour of and supportive of this policy, as shown by 53% of people who responded to our consultation.

      1. Matt

        Yes I’ve read that. Its the usual government rubbish of plucking statements from the ether and stating them as is they were self-evident facts.

        eg “there are important differences in the … responsibilities associated with these separate institutions”. Such as?

        “We believe people should be able to wear discrete religious symbols” and yet the case had to go to the ECHR to get a ruling

        “MYTH: Polling shows that the public is not supportive of this policy.
        REALITY: This is untrue. We know that there are many people who are in favour of and supportive of this policy, as shown by 53% of people who responded to our consultation.”

        53% responded but they don’t say how many supported it.


        So its not a document that it likely to convince anyone to change their mind or help anyone put forward the case for supporting it.

  14. Jonathan

    Just listened to your brilliant interview about gay marriage. I liked the GV answers as he was mainly against the government rushing with this. That woman sounds like a dictator with her opinions i felt offended by a lot of her comments she kept talking about a children and how they will be affected. She said children are better growing up in a family. Children benefit growing up in a LOVING family. They are better off living in a single parent family if parents are always arguing or violence. My brothers & I turned out OK even though we came from a broken home. As you said most people don’t care. Gay people do so if they want to be married let them. If some churches don’t want to marry gay couples then fine. Registry offices can. That woman is living in the 17th century. If young people are interested in voting and they listen to her they would no way choose conservative. It is attitudes like this woman’s that fuelled the Nazi propaganda machine and led to 6 million Jews being slaughtered during WWII. Gays were also targeted by the Nazi’s. This disgraceful woman should resign she should be kicked out.

  15. Jason Whitehead

    These warnings from the Lord our Creator and saviour should bring some comfort and reassurance for those who are a little confused.Come on vicars and pastors preach the truth,do you want to see any of your gay friends sprint into Hell? •1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
    •Romans. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

  16. Tina C

    I think our Lavinia is a little out of touch – I think she should be deselected not Michael Gove – talk about tying yourself in knots!! Excellent interview Paul Deach. Marriage is between two people who love each other … end of!

  17. Bob Garrett

    Good points Ollie, you and I have a right that does not apply to others in the community. Is that right? This is the point. I would put it as simply as saying there are lots of rights we have earnt in the last 100 years like votes for women and so on. This to me is a right that should be given to same sex relationships. I do not want to rush to my MP about it or even bother Paul with it but it’s great to share our views. (We should be able to agree on that)

  18. Bob Garrett

    All of us that are with life partners need to think, how would we feel if the state was stopping us from marriage should we wish to do so? Ollie, you saying ”There are more important issue for getting upset about” Is true if it does not effect you. It is like saying I feel fine when your neighour is unwell. That is also true but does not help your neigher feel better.

  19. Bill

    Brilliant and thought provoking podcast by Paul Deach, has provoked me! Firstly, I am hetro, not that it should matter…….. should it?

    As an ex-firefighter, I have served with Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual & Transgender members of all the Emergency Services, everyone of one of them dedicated to their community, profession, family & friends. I am 47, so according to the comments by some of the interviewees I must be classed as young and “Not Really Caring” WRONG! I DO CARE.

    I care that the Chairman of Surrey County Council, Mrs Lavinia Sealy, who “Represents” an organisation that delivers community services to all, regardless of race, colour, sex, orientation or disability, holds such personal views on “Gay Marriage”. You can’t duck out of the role as the Chair by saying “I am not here as the Chair of Surrey CC” in order to air views that may be interpreted by some, including me, as promoting the barring of a section of our community based on sexual orientation?

    I am also concerned by comments regarding the safety of children?? Anyone else worried that there are people in positions of responsibility and leadership that still think you can “Encourage” gayness, or were they hinting at something else? I had to listen to the podcast twice, yes I could not believe that there are intelligent, educated people who may think that being gay is a choice.

    This podcast has highlighted views based on unfounded fears and speculation. And I partly agree with Mark Horton, why would valued members of our society who are “Gay” want their love for each other sanctioned by organisations that preach equality yet dare not practice it?

    I hope that fellow councillors will not be afraid to comment on the personal views of Mrs Lavinia Sealy openly expressed in public, whom I now feel should not be the civic / public face of Surrey County Council now she has made those personal views on a section of our society very clear.

    We all have a duty to look after each other, and treat every member of our society equally with respect & compassion ………. it’s not rocket science is it?

    1. Clive

      I completely agree Lavinia Sealey has a perfect right to be opposed to gay marriage but her comments about it encouraging so called certain behaviours and that gay marriage will damage children and the family are not acceptable. However, to be fair to her I think she should be given the opportunity to clarify her views in case our interpretation of her interview remarks are incorrect, although I think it is unlikely we got it wrong..

  20. Anonymous

    Ashamed that my county councillor has such views. She says the Westminster crowd are in a bubble. Actually the opposite is true on this issue. She should resign from the conservative party immediately. It is she who is out of touch. Disgraceful.

  21. Louise Hector

    This is one of the few things that the Conservative Party is doing absolutely right. Lavinia Sealy is talking nonsense. Here’s a lesson for Lavinia Sealy who is talking absolutely nonsense and tying herself in knots – the consequences of gay marriage is that gay people will get married.

    I’d also like to remind Geoffrey Vero and Lavinia Sealy that the Conservative Manifesto does include a commitment towards equal marriage: “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

  22. Mark Horton

    There is no reason to deny equal marriage rights. If you don’t want to get married to someone of the same sex, don’t do it. Religious communities homophobia is irrelevant, and should be restricted to their own members. Trying to inflict your religious bigotry on others is simply unacceptable.

  23. Anonymous

    Lavinia Sealey said some rather odd things for example changing the law could encourage certain behaviours and will be a danger to children and families. I assume she meant encouraging homosexuality in the first instance. I fail to see how this is the case and perhaps her statement is a clue to her real attitude towards gays which she is unable to express for fear of censure.
    I also don’t see how gay marriage will be a threat to children and the family. Gay couples already adopt children and given the hoops people have to go through in the adoption process, they must be very committed to wanting children and are likely to be very loving and successful parents.

  24. Anonymous

    Are you going to make synagoges and mosques do the same as you are trying to do to the Anglican Church? Will they fall in with the government plans, and have same sex marriages?

  25. Aldwyn

    I think the problem for the antis is they are trying to make an argument out of nothing. It comes across as very abstract and theoretical.

    Wheras those arguing in favour of same sex marriages can show real people leading real lives who want recognition for what they are.

    I find the arguments around children irrelant since gay couples alreayd have the same rights as straight infertile couples. Gay couples can adopt and use any other legally available option to get children. Lavina doesn’t appear to be aware of this. Gay couples are alreay family units in themselves and are certainly part of their own extended families.

    I applaud David Cameron for pushing this policy through against all the odds.

  26. Anonymous

    Well done Paul – great interviews – much more at stake than first meets the eye.
    What kind of society do we want? – how do we want to raise children? – what are the ideals that we wish to aspire to?


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