Sunday, 16 December 2012

same-sex marriage: further reports and comment

Sam Jones at the Guardian had Government’s gay marriage plan a mess, says Labour

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has Equal marriage confusion: owning up.

…The government would appear to have blundered in its attempts to head off the more alarmist opponents of equal marriage. But it cannot be blamed for the perception that the C of E is “unfriendly to gays”.

Church leaders have openly and persistently discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, to the extent of asking lawyers to come up with excuses for blocking even celibate gays who seek full inclusion from being considered as bishops.

They have also criticised other Anglican provinces for treating LGBT people equally, and sought to give greater power to anti-inclusive churches to hinder progress in other countries.

The official consultation response on equal civil marriage was not only heavily negative but also raised alarms about human rights law and the position of the Church of England as an established church.

Exaggeration and misinterpretation of these warnings was not properly addressed by church authorities unwilling to admit in public that many at all levels of the Church of England want greater inclusion…

Fraser Nelson writes in the Sunday Telegraph that Britain is getting a glimpse of the crazy world of culture wars.

…But the news, in recent days, has started to sound a little more American. MPs have been quoting the Bible in just the same way, and getting themselves just as wound up. David Cameron’s plans for gay marriage, which were controversial enough in the first place, have been made even more so by his decision to let such unions take place in churches. After two years of trying to discuss this rationally, tribal battle has now broken out. A group of liberal Tories calling themselves the “Freedom to Marry” alliance are up against a group of less organised, lesser known and less telegenic Conservatives who are popping up on TV to denounce the Government. The ordinary viewer may conclude that the Tory party is going through one of its periodic bouts of madness.

I suspect that, by now, even Cameron is wondering if this has not all spun out of control. It’s perfectly easy to see his original logic. As a matter of principle, he believes in marriage and would like it to be accessible to everyone. If the Unitarian Church and certain strands of Judaism want to marry gay couples on their premises, then why should government stand in their way? For the record, I quite agree. Religious freedom in Britain ought to be universal, extended to the handful of churches or synagogues who want same-sex marriage. To lift the ban ought to be a technical issue, an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 requiring no fanfare…

Ed Malnick has a report in the Sunday Telegraph inaccurately headlined Anglican vicars threaten to defy gay marriage ban.

Leading Anglican campaigners have warned that Government plans to exempt the Church from the new legislation will lead to hundreds of homosexual clergy and worshippers marrying in Quaker and Unitarian services and then returning to the Church.

In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, dozens of clergy, including Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, today urge homosexual Anglicans to follow this course of action.

“Until the Church of England allows us to solemnise same-sex marriages in our churches, as a matter of pastoral expediency we will counsel lesbian and gay members of our congregations to marry in those churches willing to celebrate faithful same-sex relationships,” the letter, which is also signed by scores of lay members of the Church, states.

The 150 signatories warn: “If the bill is enacted in its present form, in 2014 married lesbian and gay Anglicans, lay and ordained, will be worshipping and ministering in parishes of the Church of England.”

The presence of married homosexual couples, including clergy, in the Church will force its leaders to confront the growing debate over sexuality, the letter suggests…

The letter itself, with signatories, appears here (scroll down).

Vicky Allan in the Sunday Herald writes that Love will burst through any lock.

When it comes to keeping intruding gay couples out of the premises of the institution of marriage, there is only one security measure up to the job – the Westminster quadruple lock.

Like many aspects around last week’s launch of the bill to introduce equal marriage in England and Wales, this term used to describe the multiple layers of protection that will be afforded the clergy to allow them to act as their beliefs dictate – measures which include a ban on same-sex marriages being conducted by the Church of England and Church of Wales – comes edged with hysteria. Only the paranoid, fearful and homophobic, surely, would seek more than, say, a standard basic lock. Yet two archbishops in the Church of England declared they still wanted to see the “shambolic” gay marriage bill stopped. For them, even the Westminster quadruple lock was not enough.

So, it was a relief when, on Wednesday, the Scottish Government published its draft legislation for our own bill, and there were no strange multi-layered locks and no ban for the Church of Scotland, only talk of allowing churches to opt in or opt out, and protecting both churches and individual celebrants through changes to the Equalities Act…

Mail on Sunday reports Britons vote in favour of same-sex marriage: Public backs PM on gay marriage but says he’s doing it to be trendy

…The results of a Mail on Sunday poll, conducted by Survation, suggest strong support for gay rights across a wide range of issues among most voters, but with sharp differences between the young and old.

Overall, six out of ten support the gay marriage plan. Among the under-35s, it soars to 73 per cent; by contrast, 56 per cent of over-55s are against…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 7:40am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | equality legislation

Main problem is there is no Bill. We have no idea how it will be worded. The govt needs to produce an initial draft and get relevant Churches to work on that. If they don't cooperate then the govt will stay with its own more categorical approach (it's not for the govt to intimate these bodies will reverse their policy).

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 9:07am GMT

It's time to end the talking shop. The Church House 'myth' that there is uniform antipathy to equal marriage has been blown out of the water. There is no consensus at all, that could justify a blanket ban and criminalisation of equal marriage in the Church of England.

What is needed now - as a matter of justice, courage, and religious conscience - is not nice twee Anglican talking but action and dissent.

The point is pertinently made that the Church will now enjoy married lesbian and gay vicars, married lesbian and gay parishioners, and in addition, there will be a good number of local Anglican churches who endorse all this.

They should network (to avoid punitive singling out) and they should publicly carry out all sorts of creative expressions of affirmation, of blessing (who can stop people asking God's blessing), and local liturgies that constitute marriage whatever canon law says.

What are the bishops going to do? Close down the church?

It's a time to switch from words to joyful affirmation (carefully orchestrated as a network), and an end of deference.

Equal marriage is coming, and not before time. The bishops and others will just have to learn to live with it.

As is often stated, if you don't believe in gay marriage then don't marry someone gay. That is you religious conscience. If you *do* believe in gay marriage - like the majority of people in this country - then you, too, have a decent religious conscience.

Christians deferred on slavery, on human rights abuses in communist states, on nazi outrages, on the marginalisation of women. Equal marriage is a justice issue, and a little courage (and joy) rather than words is needed at this juncture.

This whole debate is coming to a head. It's taken decades. Now we will learn what unity in diversity means. We are Anglican. We don't do papal authoritarianism. We do diversity. Opponents of diversity have already been rebuffed over the Covenant.

A dam is bursting.

God moves in mysterious, wonderful ways.

May God bless *all* loving couples who seek public recognition, blessing and sacrament for their fidelity, care and sacrifice. That is what this is all about, and it's worth it.

Posted by: Susannah on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 1:36pm GMT

What will the CofE do when deacons and priests want to marry their same sex partners? Since marriage requires consummation, will the CofE forbid its gay clergy to marry? Will gay clergy have to choose between marriage to the persons they love or service to the Church they love?

Will some persons in the leadership of the CofE try leading for a change? The CofE is paying too high a price to its credibility and relevance to the nation it is supposed to serve by continuing to cater to radical conservatives in the Church and the Anglican Communion. The Church may be about to lose some of its best clergy if it continues to cower before those who prize righteousness over love. What will the cost be to young clergy who will see colleagues who are their friends driven from the ministry?

For years, many of us have been blogging here and elsewhere about the need for leadership in the Church to face these issues honestly and to plan for the inevitable. No such leadership has emerged amongst the House of Bishops. To the contrary, the Church has just nominated an Archbishop-designate who has stood firmly against marriage equality. He promises to listen to the experiences of LGBTI persons and our families, although the commitment to listen was made at Lambeth in 1998, twelve years ago.

As the CofE shambles about trying to cover its pro-discrimination special pleadings the only thing it seems to prepare for is to reap the whirlwind.

Posted by: karenmacqueen+ on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 8:38pm GMT

A poll sponsored by the Daily Mail finds such an impressive majority in favour!
And they report it.
Wonders will ........

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 11:01pm GMT

Brava Susannah and Karen!

Here's the evil and insidious part from my perspective "They have also criticised other Anglican provinces for treating LGBT people equally, and sought to give greater power to anti-inclusive churches to hinder progress in other countries." The CoE has actively encouraged oppression. Jesus said you can tell the true prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labor" (sorry, labour). The hateful anti-gay laws in Uganda are the fruits of the church's homophobia labor. As are high suicide rates amongst LGBT teens.

Diversity in CoE leadership is much needed. The old white guys are really muddled.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 11:23pm GMT

Do what you like. Ultimately, after much forbearance, Canon B16 can be invoked. Laws work both ways.

Then try legislating against the diocesan bishop to force admission to the Lord's table.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 17 December 2012 at 8:48am GMT

With great respect to "dozens of clergy, including Lord Harries", it's a good deal more complicated than that. I don't know what the Unitarians will do if approached by a same-sex Anglican couple wanting a wedding ceremony; but I hope that Friends would think very hard indeed (and at the very least hold a Meeting for Clearness) before acceding to such a request.

Quaker marriage is intended for Quakers, not as an alternative for people who, for whatever reason, have difficulties with their own denomination.

Posted by: Frank Cranmer on Monday, 17 December 2012 at 9:07am GMT

What on earth is "Quaker marriage"? Has it got something to do with oatmeal?

Posted by: William on Monday, 17 December 2012 at 4:17pm GMT

That's right 'William' - how did you know ? Any further gems for us !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 at 11:53am GMT

John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, has commented on same sex marriage legislation.

He admits C of E has been 'churlish' about civil partnerships, but then falls into the 'Leicester' fallacy of asserting that marriage has always been of one woman and one man, apart from in the last few decades in the West.

He thinks that marriage for heterosexual couples and civil partnerships for homosexual couples are a suitable way to recognise the diversity of 'patterns of human belonging'.

As has already been pointed out, this line of argument leads inexorably to the question, 'so why isn't the C of E blessing and affirming civil partnerships?'

Posted by: Samuel Denyer on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 at 8:45pm GMT

"Teaching in schools about relationships could be
bewildering for children." Bishop of Oxford.

Well we already have children with 2 Mums or 2 Dads in our class rooms....and indeed being presented to a bishop for confirmation.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 at 8:52am GMT

"Teaching in schools about relationships could be
bewildering for children." Bishop of Oxford.

Surely, it is the good bishop who is confused - or at least happy thus to confuse and contort reality.

The bishop needs to stop digging - now !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 at 7:31pm GMT

I agree that teaching in school could be bewildering to some children. About as bewildering as when children coming from a creationist background first learn about evolution.
The answer is not to give in to this nonsense but to prepare them for the world they are actually living in.
Who knows, they might even be lgbt themselves and welcome the affirmation.
Or one of their classmates might live with same sex parents.

Let's not go down the road of assuming that some children's "bewilderment" is reason enough to discriminate against hundreds of thousands of people in this country.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 20 December 2012 at 7:42am GMT
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