The Coalition for Marriage is a strange institution. It pushes arguments that have been directly imported from the American religious right, arguments that I have never come across when speaking to British people.
It can be characterised in two ways. The first is mysticism: the claim that marriage ought to be the exclusive domain between one man and one woman amounts to the claim that the church has the exclusive prerogative to define the way the state treats marriage. The campaign lists religious leaders last in its list of supporters: “The Coalition is backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders”, but it is clear that the religious are its primary support base, as a quick look at the list of its famous signatories will confirm. When somebody advances this opinion in the media, it will be somebody like the loathsome Archbishop Peter Smith, not an academic or a lawyer. A religious leader is the only type of high profile person who could get away with publicly advocating that innocent people be excluded from contract formation because “might makes right”, and because their imaginary friend told them so.
Secondly, it can be characterised by homophobia: it seeks to single out a category of marriage (a legal union between consenting adults) for legal exclusion, and that category is homosexuals. This doesn’t mean that its members hate gay people, I would be extremely surprised if they were not entirely cordial and decent in their dealings with gay people, if perhaps a little uncomfortable. It does mean, however, that they misunderstand it to the degree that they are unwilling to grant them equal recognition before the law. Quite literally, they are scared of the advancement of gay people into a particular part of society, and that isn’t acceptable. Having a strong emotional attachment to a concept is not a good reason to impose prejudicial beliefs on the way other people see it.
The simple fact is that there is no “too far” when it comes to the legal equality of humans. Each and every institution of the state must make no restrictions on the way it treats its citizens because of character traits irrelevant to their capacity. There is nothing exclusively heterosexual about marriage: combining property rights through mutual, contractual consent is not related to penile penetration of the vagina, any more than it is related to wearing a top hat or singing La Marseillaise. Note that this is not a campaign to stop private churches from performing gay marriages, that is not part of the bill, but rather to stop gay marriage happening in any institution, secular or otherwise.
Given this, it is regrettable to see Professor Ken Walters, of my own university (Aberystwyth), assuming that the published list is accurate, adding his name to the public list of the campaign’s supporters. The movement is anti-intellectual, in its advocacy of might makes right and religious law, and discriminatory, in its intention to exclude homosexuals from the same legal rights enjoyed by the rest of the population.