It is obvious that the government's assurances about legal protections for religious groups are illusory. Cameron's recent u-turn to allow a few very small, liberal religious groups to hold same-sex ceremonies was on the basis of legal advice and not benevolence.
However, the change makes it far more likely that mainstream religions will be subject to manifold legal challenges if they dissent from a new social orthodoxy. More importantly, no protections at all have been offered for individual Christians and the wider public.
The move to discount more than 500,000 submissions (made on the Coalition for Marriage website opposing same-sex marriage) from the consultation process demonstrates the political game being played with marriage and shows how disenfranchised people are from Government in the UK.
The consultation was run like an election in a tinpot state. Despite a significant amount of public opinion against the redefining of marriage, despite the government not having any mandate for making the change, and despite growing unrest in the Conservative Party and the very real prospect of them losing many key seats at the next general election – despite all of this, the Prime Minister seems determined to press on with his elitist neo-liberal agenda.
From the very outset this proposal has been characterised by politics rather than principles. The democratic deficit demonstrated by the sham consultation will certainly see the Prime Minister losing the trust of many people across the country.
Changing the definition of marriage is a significant decision. Although the sky won't fall in if the law changes, there will most certainly be a new legal culture imposed that over time will have profound and incalculable consequences for family life and social relations in the UK. In light of the momentous nature of what is being proposed for our social constitution, it is not unreasonable to demand a national referendum. The people deserve to have their say on this issue.