THINKING ANGLICANS

Civil Partnership Review: response from Church of England

Updated Saturday morning

Church of England press release:

Response to Government consultation on future of civil partnership

11 April 2014
The Church of England has submitted its response to the Government’s consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The 12 week consultation period opened in January and closes next Thursday (17 April).

The response, which can be found here, has been considered and approved by the Archbishops’ Council and House of Bishops’ Standing Committee as well as by both Archbishops.

Notes
Details of the Government consultation can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-future-of-civil-partnership-in-england-and-wales

The Church Times has reported this under the headline: Keep civil partnerships, Bishops tell Government.

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Father Ron SmithErika BakerCraig NelsonSimon SarmientoGary paul Gilbert Recent comment authors
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Philip Hobday
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Philip Hobday

Happy to be told, but I don’t quite see the rationale for opposing the extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. I would have thought there were quite a number of people (regardless of sexual orientation) who are in faithful, committed, loving relationships but who (for whatever reason) are uncomfortable with what they might perceive to be the cultural (and perhaps religious) hinterland of marriage. And of course to the extent that the argument in favour of same-sex marriage relies on the equality argument, surely the converse should be true – if same-sex couples have two options, how is it… Read more »

iain mclean
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iain mclean

Of course Philip is right. If the document was straight, so to speak, it would of course acknowledge that there are straight couples who don’t want to get married. But to acknowledge that would be to imperil the c of E’s position in the marriage market yet further. so the response is entirely about the private grief of the C of E caused by the huge Parliamentary majority for equal marriage(and, to be fair, of those gay couples who have theological objections to getting married). The private grief of the C of E is no reason to maintain an asymmetric… Read more »

Tess
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Tess

I wish there was more honesty in this document. The elephant in the room is that if civil partnerships are withdrawn as an option for gay couples, the Church’s refusal to accept equal marriage (especially for gay clergy) will be (further) substantially weakened. This somehow fails to be mentioned at all. Instead the argument is that we need civil partnerships for those gay couples who don’t believe in marriage (but definitely not for the heterosexual couples who don’t believe in marriage). Personally I wish the rule was marriage for believers and civil partnership for atheists. Of course the atheists could… Read more »

Iain Baxter
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Iain Baxter

I think the bishops are clearly wedded to the doctrine of “separate but equal”. Hence their desire to retain the option of civil partnerships for gay couples but insistence that straights must be married.

It is strange that they believe that gay people who believe “for religious reasons” that they should not be married should be allowed civil partnerships, but those who believe “for religious reasons” that they should be married should be forbidden from marrying in the sight of God.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Bishops to Government: Please keep civil partnerships. Otherwise we won’t have a back of the bus where we can put gay people.

Tobias Haller
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The C of E continues its incoherency. Earlier they tried to say that it was nonsense to try to speak of “two kinds of marriage” but when that failed to stop things now they insist that is what must be maintained: civil and church marriage is two different things for same-sex couples. But they don’t want to allow “two kinds civil partnership” even though the rationale they provide would be eminently suitable to commend such an allowance (for couples who don’t believe in “marriage.”)

Meanwhile, reality marches on…

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Even as a conservative Catholic, I have to say, Jeremy is spot on. This document digs the Anglican bench further into their hole.

Either homosexual practice is sin or it is not.

vince
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vince

civil partnerships for religious gays and marriages for non religious gays, seems a bit confused to me. And still the C of E continues to refuse blessings to same sex couples and refuses to register civil partnerships in a C of E premise. Do they really care two hoots about what gay people want. Honestly it all sounds like a pack of lies and double standards, one rule for gay people and another for straights.

Ben
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Ben

Interesting to see how many same sex couples opt for CPs in the next few months. I expect it may be minimal. I’m struggling with the idea of a Christian same sex couple who embrace & celebrate their sexual relationship but who don’t believe in Marriage. Unless they happen to be vicars in fear of losing their job & bullied into denial.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Thank you, RIW.

Understanding that we look at this from opposite perspectives, I appreciate your agreement that the bishops’ position is logically and theologically indefensible.

Father Ron Smith
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“with the advent of same sex marriage, the distinctive nature of civil partnership assumes greater significance for those who may not wish to avail themselves of marriage.” – William Fittall – Do I hear the sound of a cracked cymbal here? When the prospect of Civil Partnerships was first mooted for same-sex couples, the Church was adamantly against it. (Now it wants it retained) Once the measure passed through Parliament, there was no way the Church would add a ‘Blessing’. Now that Same-Sex Marriage is available in the public arena, the Church seems to pretend that C.P.s are OK. Or… Read more »

Ben
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Ben

I’m struggling to understand the Bishops’ theology. Are they saying that God sees not the nature of each same-sex relationship (or indeed opposite-sex relationships) but merely at the name under which it is registered?

Surely the question each gay Christian couple must ask themselves is whether their sexual orientation is God-given & part of his plan for them (in which case marriage would seem to be the appropriate term). Calling a marriage a civil partnership in the hope that God won’t notice what’s going on seems a bit optimistic.

vince
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vince

My feeling is that the House of Bishops are under the delusion that a civil partnership is a profound friendship or a form of companionship on a par to elderly sisters living together, sharing the bills and household chores. However, that to me would be a sham civil partnership. There is a complete denial or pretence still, I believe, in the C of E that civil partnerships are sexual and are the same as marriages in all but name. Simply retaining civil partnerships does not not mean that there is an alternative form of relationship where no sex is involved.

Gary paul Gilbert
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Gary paul Gilbert

According to the ABC, any reoognition of same-sex couples leads to massacres in Africa (an echo of how in the past same-sex sex was supposed to cause earthquakes), so why should they care about civil partnerships? I would have thought they would be recommending the closet. Civil partnerships offer them deniability about same-sex sex, so they think. Because Parliament failed to open civil partnerships to sex-discordant couples, which might have provided a different level of commitment from marriage as the pacte civil de solidarit√© does in France, it would make sense to convert civil partnerships automatically to civil marriage as… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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The full record of the contributions and voting by the Lords Spiritual on the matter of Civil Partnerships was reported earlier on Thinking Anglicans:
http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk/uploads/cptimeline.html

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

I imagine there would be people who wish in some way to mark a recognition of marriage being a lifelong union of one man and one woman and therefore might, after a divorce, wish to enter into a Civil Partnership rather than be coerced into marriage. Where it is said that the case for the extension of Civil Partnership to opposite sex couples has not been made that is a palpable falsehood. It was made very clearly and forcibly in the debate in the House of Commons where the Bill was amended to allow for it to happen. Indeed at… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Philip Hobday,
marriages are portable, civil partnerships are not.
By all means, if a couple wants to have the legal security that comes with being married but does not want to be married, they should be allowed to get civil partnered.

But I fail to see why any couple should want to enter into a secure relationship that deprives them of the same security when they’re abroad where they will simply be treated as not married in terms of tax law, legal disputes involving custody of children, medical treatment decisions for partners etc.

Why would anyone do that voluntarily?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Perhaps, now that a clergy-person (even though his Stipend is not paid by the Church of England but by the NHS) has taken advantage of his civil right to marry his monogamous same-sex partner; the Church of England will be forced to come out into the open – on its willingness – or not – to shed its homophobic history. Bets, anyone?