ENGLAND — The official body with responsibility for judicial conduct in the UK has chastised a leading High Court judge, who is also a Christian, over comments asserting that biblical marriage is the best option for society.
Sir Paul Coleridge was given a formal warning by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) because he promoted biblical marriage as more stable for children and society than other alternatives.
In an article published in The Telegraph last July, Coleridge said, “Stability is the name of the game and comparatively speaking that means marriage.” He also angered homosexual rights campaigners and MPs last year when he gave an interview describing homosexual marriage as a “minority issue.”
A JCIO spokesperson said they took into account the articles and interviews before deciding to issue a formal warning.
“The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered Mr. Justice Coleridge’s decision to give an interview and to participate in the article to be incompatible with his judicial responsibilities,” he said. “And therefore, amounts to judicial misconduct.”
Coleridge, who founded the think-tank Marriage Foundation aimed at encouraging biblical marriage and combating divorce, recently said that the decision was “disproportionate and unfair reaction to a few lines in two newspapers.”
“I strongly disagree with the overall conclusion … which underlies this announcement that my occasional comments on the huge social problem of family breakdown or my public support for the Marriage Foundation amounts to misconduct or brings the judiciary into disrepute,” he said. “Indeed I think the contrary is true.”
Earlier this month, Coleridge told The Telegraph that couples should not have children if their relationship was not strong enough for them to get married.
According to The Office for National Statistics, the proportion of children born to unwed mothers in England and Wales in 2012 was at a record 47.5%, an increase from 25% in 1988.
The 2011 census showed that the number of married people in England and Wales had fallen to 45 percent, just over half the population a decade ago.
“A lot of people don’t realize that long-term cohabitation with children is really rare,” stated Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice. “Most people with children who are still together after many years are married. Long-term results show that there is something different about being married; it is more stable. People are bound together when they are married in a way that they are not if they are just living together.”
Sir Paul Coleridge was appointed a High Court judge in 2000 after 30 years as a family law specialist at the bar. As a result of the opposition he has received for his comments about marriage, Coleridge announced that he will go into early retirement from the bench.