It’s been a long time since something riled me so much I headed straight for the keyboard but the news of the comments made by Welsh Secretary David Jones regarding same sex couples bringing up children did it. For anyone who missed it, t he said :
I regard marriage as an institution that has developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can’t do.
He has now claimed that he was quoted out of context given that elsewhere he lauded civil partnerships and apparently has “people in my life who are important to me who are gay.“ To be honest, it doesn’t matter how supportive you are of civil partnerships, how many gay people you have in your life that are important to you, to suggest, with no supporting evidence, that same sex partners “clearly” can’t provide a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children is not only insulting, it is without an ounce of evidence. And I’m sorry Mr Jones, but you may not have said you were against same sex partners adopting or fostering, but no amount of trying to blame your opponents for misinterpreting you can undo what you actually said.
Let’s think about it shall we. There are around 60,000 children in care at the moment. I would presume that a good proportion of them come from married couples where they did not enjoy a warm and safe environment. And I would presume that very few of them come from same sex relationships. I may be wrong, maybe someone has done the research?
OK, I admit it. It’s personal. Firstly I have friends in same sex relationships who I know would be the most loving parents anyone could wish for. Secondly, my daughter and I are in the final stages of being approved as foster carers. As two women, does Mr Jones not believe we could offer children who may have been neglected, abused or abandoned – a “warm and safe” environment? Believe me, no-one thinking of fostering or adopting, taking on someone else’s often hurt and confused children, does so lightly. We know this will have a huge impact on our lives. At my age I thought my mothering days were over but apparently we are 9,000 foster families short in this country. If Lara and I, or any other family, of any shape or size, can offer a refuge to a child who would otherwise be condemned to an institution, a hostel, or the street, why on earth not?
* Linda Jack is a member of the Liberal Democrat's' Federal Policy Committee and Chair of Liberal Left.