Kent MP: If gays marry, will Shakespeare be in danger?

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A twice-divorced Kent MP has questioned whether allowing gay couples to marry will result in Shakespeare being rewritten to redact gender-specific words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

Sir Roger Gale, who has been North Thanet’s Conservative MP for nearly thirty years, writes in an opinion piece today that the “almost Stalinist” move to ensure forms accurately reflect spouse’s genders in the future would “rewrite history and tradition”.

Writing in the Thanet Extra, which can be read online, he says: “If we are to re-construct official and business documentation and to replace “Husband and Wife” with “spouses” and “partners” where will this stop? Will Shakespeare and Milton and The Holy Bible be re-written also? Will only “correctly” expurgated literature be allowed to be used in the classroom?”

Sir Roger was a DJ on the pirate radio station Radio Caroline in the 1960s, broadcasting from a former ferry boat off the coast of Felixstowe. He became the Conservative MP for Thanet North in 1983.

He writes today that the suggestion of amending works of classic literature should not be dismissed as “fanciful”.

He says: “Children’s literature has been sanitised in the interests of other “equalities” and this, if it is allowed to pass, will follow.”

Sir Roger has been producer of Radio 1’s Newsbeat and of Radio 4’s Today programme from 1973 to 1976, at which point he was appointed Director of BBC Children’s Television.

He cast doubt today on the government’s promise not to force religious denominations to marry gay couples against their beliefs.

Concerned that equality will not stop at the “church door”, Sir Roger writes: “We are being asked to vote for the right of same-sex couples to enjoy a civil marriage. Once undermined, it will only be a question of time before those who called for the recognition of civil partnerships demand the right to marry in a Catholic or an Anglican church or elsewhere.”

He says: “As a divorcee I may not re-marry in my church. Those are the laws of my faith. I acknowledge them and I do not wish to change them for my own convenience.”

Sir Roger further warns that with support in the House of Commons, “only the about-to-be-abolished House of Lords and the British people may be able to prevent [equal marriage].”

The MP wrote that he will oppose marriage equality at Westminster “because I believe that “marriage” describes the union, in Church or out of it, of one man and one woman and it is not a term or a status that I wish to see hijacked in the false name of “equality”.”

Sir Roger, who has been married three times, was knighted in the New Year honours this year.

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