Monday, 14 February 2011

Gay Marriage: Waiting At The Church

At the risk of Fagburn repeating himself...
So far, this is all the Home Office are on record as saying about the possibility of gay marriage being introduced in the UK;
"The Government is currently considering what the next stage should be for civil partnerships, including how some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so.
"Ministers have met a range of people and organisations to hear their views on this issue. An announcement will be made in due course."
That announcement is expected this week or next.
However, like yesterday's Sunday Times - who may know something we don't - some have already decided to break out the champagne.
And all on the back of one single quote in The Sunday Times from an anonymous Whitehall source.
Here's that quote again in full;
“This is not just about gay rights but about religious freedom. Quakers and liberal Judaism want to do this. Attitudes have changed to gay marriage. We are going to look at what legislative steps we could begin to make gay marriage possible.”
Fagburn wonders if this quote just shows a more general semantic confusion over this issue; using "marriage" in an informal sense when you technically mean "civil partnerships" - as did many papers yesterday and today.
Was the Whitehall source talking about making registering civil partnerships in churches possible?
It's quite possible - that is what the first two sentences in the quote clearly refer to, sometimes in inverted commas, sometimes not.
Whatever, a leader in today's Independent was already celebrating; A welcome blow against discrimination
"Less than 50 years ago, homosexuality was illegal in Britain. The last half-century has seen a revolution in social attitudes since a pioneering Labour home secretary, Roy Jenkins, pushed through the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. This week, the Coalition's equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, is expected to knock away another pillar in the ancient and unlovely edifice of institutionalised prejudice by announcing legal changes enabling gay men and lesbians to marry."
But have they though?
The Independent notes;
"Much attention around the expected change to the law will concentrate on whether the churches will now have to allow gay marriages to take place in their places of worship. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the Church of England, which remains bitterly divided over the ordination of gay priests, responds."
This is interesting - and it could prove instructive.
That allowing civil partnerships or gay marriages in places of worship is the controversial issue now - not that of allowing gay marriages.
On BBC TV's The One Show yesterday, Andrew Marr asked Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop Of York, for his thoughts.
"...I, who believes in a liberal democracy and actually want equality with everybody, cannot say the Quakers shouldn't do it. Nor do I want somebody to tell me but the Church of England must do it, but the Roman Catholic Church must do it because actually that's not what equality is about. You mustn't have rights that trump other rights." [Transcript]
Like other papers today, The Daily Telegraph picked up on this; Sentamu: Don't force churches to conduct gay weddings "Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and the second most powerful cleric in the Church of England, has warned against forcing vicars to conduct same-sex civil partnerships as the Coalition prepares to grant full marriage rights to homosexual couples."
We're still none the wiser what this really means - allowing partnership ceremonies to be conducted in religious buildings is the last real "right" straight couples have that's denied to same-sex couples.
It would make civil partnership equivalent to marriage, but allowing gay couples to marry is another thing entirely.
The Daily Telegraph later clarifies;
"As The Daily Telegraph reported in December, the Coalition is also considering extending homosexual rights to allow full “marriage” for same-sex couples." [Emphasis added]
Let's step back in time and look at that then.
Coalition ministers consider gay marriage plans Daily Telegraph, December 24th 2010.
"Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, is expected to announce that same-sex civil partnership ceremonies will be allowed in churches and other religious settings for the first time.
"The move, likely to come early next year, could be a prelude to overhauling the law on marriage itself, which currently applies only to the union of a man and a woman."
And if you still need clarrification, later in the same article this is spelt out again;
"A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said the coalition had no “plans” to change marriage law but a Government source said potential reforms were “being discussed”."
I hate to say this, but that's what Fagburn was arguing yesterday.
There's no evidence of "plans" for gay marriage, only that it will be discussed - and the Tories have been saying as much for months.
I'd be more than happy if they proved me wrong on this one, though.


  1. I'm writing a comment piece about all the comment pieces about the Sunday Times claims about gay marriage and civil partnerships and the church...

  2. It's very simple. Whenever you want a answer, ask God.
    God said that he hates it!
    Can you go to heaven if you killed someone? Can you enter the eternal life after death as promised when you stole something. ALL THE SAME, YOU'VE SINNED!
    But wait... isn't God a forgiving God? Yes He is!
    Your sins was already paid for by Jesus. Just by simply asking God for forgiveness can save you BUT... there is a open 'catch'. You must STOP THAT SIN THAT YOU WERE DOING AND LIVE TO BE LIKE JESUS!!!
    Gay means also that that specific person is LIVING THAT LIFESTYLE and not that he/she has sinned ones or twice.
    It's like drinking. Ask for forgiveness, STOP drinking and live a Christian clean sober life.
    Drinking - Sin - Ask for Forgiveness and STOP this sin - Start living according to His Word.
    Stealing - Sin - Ask for Forgiveness and STOP this sin - Start living according to His Word.
    Murder - Sin - Ask for Forgiveness and STOP this sin - Start living according to His Word.
    Gay - Sin - Ask for Forgiveness and STOP this sin - Start living according to His Word.
    Why arguing this for ages when you know for a fact that the answer is in the Creators BIBLE?

  3. It's very simple... you are nuts!

  4. "Why arguing this for ages when you know for a fact that the answer is in the Creators BIBLE?"

    What you present above is a narrative based on your particular religious background, and it may well be convincing within that context. However, the subject under discussion is not the moral fabric of the universe, but how a secular government can discharge its duty to protect and further the interests of its citizens whilst not intruding too deeply into matters of choice and conscience. Such a government is responsible for all citizens without preference, including those who think you are wrong and hold entirely different beliefs Applying your conclusions in this context would be a category error.

    Also, I must assume that you are using the word "you" in this sentence in a sense better fulfilled by the third-person pronoun "one," as in "when one knows for a fact". Otherwise, I read you as implying that all potential readers must agree with you, which is certainly not the case.