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14 March 2012

C4M campaign set to become ‘biggest active petition’

C4M campaign set to become ‘biggest active petition’

The campaign launched by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) could become the biggest active petition this weekend when it is expected to pass 228,000 signatories.

It was launched on 20 February to oppose the government’s attempts to redefine marriage and has been backed by church leaders, MPs, peers, legal experts and members of the public.

The petition currently has more than 192,000 signatures on its website, but is expected to reach 228,000 this weekend, which would see it overtake the Planning for People petition as the biggest active campaign in the UK.

On Tuesday it overtook the third place petition, which calls for the full disclosure of government documents on the Hillsborough disaster.

A C4M poll in January revealed that 51 per cent of the British public back the current status of marriage, compared to 34 per cent who back the change.

“Currently the petition is being signed by more than 7,500 people per day - that’s more than 50,000 people per week, since its launch. This makes it one of the fastest growing petitions in modern times,” said Colin Hart, campaign director for C4M.

“At this rate the petition is expected to break the 200,000 mark later this week. And the surge in signatories is expected to continue as hundreds of paper copies of the petition from all over the country are sent into C4M’s campaign office.”

The C4M petition calls on the government to leave the current definition of marriage alone – which describes marriage as the voluntary union between one man and one woman for life.

The campaign was launched in response to government plans to consult on how to introduce same-sex marriage, which will be announced this week, by Lynne Featherstone,  the equalities minister.

Mr Hart added: “This is a staggering response to the petition, which was launched only three weeks ago. The government has underestimated the strength of public support for marriage and recent polling suggests that the more the public hear about their plans, the more they back our campaign. A ComRes poll shows 70 per cent of people oppose redefinition of marriage.

“We have been very clear from the outset that there is no need to redefine marriage as civil partnerships already give all the legal rights of marriage to same sex couples. Any change would have all sorts of unintended consequences as this institution is woven into the very fabric of the country and would be profoundly undemocratic as none of the main political parties put this in their manifestos.

“Those who have signed the petition come from all walks of life, but are united by a single belief, that marriage is a unique institution that should not be redefined at the drop of a hat because of some desire by politicians to appear ‘cool’.

“I am confident that the petition will continue to grow and C4M will continue to make sure that the government hears the clear message from the British public - ditch these plans.”