Friday, 24 May 2013

Bishop of Leicester will seek amendments to marriage bill

The Church Times has this news article: Gay-marriage Bill passes from the Commons despite rebels which reports on what may happen in the House of Lords:

…Lord Dear, a crossbencher who is expected to lead the opposition to the Bill in the House of Lords, told The Times that he might table a “fatal motion” to kill it off.

On Wednesday, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, who has led the bishops in the House of Lords on the issue, said: ”We clearly cannot support the Bill because it is contrary to the Church’s historic teaching on the nature of marriage.”

He said, however, that he would want to recognise “that the Government has done a great deal to accommodate some of the Church’s concerns, and to make it clear that individual clergy cannot be proceeded against by anybody”. “Hard work” had been done “to ensure that the Canons of the Church of England will not contravene the civil law of England”.

Bishop Stevens said that he intended to seek more concessions from the Government: further guarantees for teachers in church schools “to teach a traditional view of marriage”, and a “freedom-of-speech amendment to ensure those who argue for a traditional view of marriage are not treated as if they are in contempt of the law or behaving prejudicially”.

The Bill will receive its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 3 June. Bishop Stevens said that the House did not traditionally take a vote at this stage, but that this might happen. Individual bishops would then have to decide how to vote…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 May 2013 at 11:16pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

*Sigh*

More concessions? Why?

This bishop appoints a partnered gay man as the Dean of his cathedral, and then seems hell-bent on tampering with the passing of a Bill that is about CIVIL marriage - no one is going to make any church in Leicestershire host any same-sex marriage. So the Church can sit in its fastness refusing to acknowledge these things quite safely - of what concern is it to the bishop (and his colleagues) if some people want to permit these marriages to take place?

What teachers cannot do in any school is deny that according to the law of the land same-sex marriages are marriages. They might have a particular religious view of them - and provided they express that in an even-handed way - "some Christians think that marriage is only for a man and a woman, and some think that it can be for m/f m/m and f/f couples" then they will be teaching in a fair and unprejudiced way. But if he wants a special pass for one view only I hope his amendment will be resoundingly defeated.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Friday, 24 May 2013 at 11:44pm BST

For whatever reason, if this Bill fails in the House of Lords because of the interference of Bishops in the Church of England, the general public will probably assume (quite rightly in this case) that the C.of E. has commandeered the understanding of what monogamous relationships are all about - while yet discriminating against those who wish to legally commit themselves to marry their loving same-sex partner.

With the current failure of many heterosexual marriage, one would think that the Church ought do everything in its power to promote faithful, monogamous relationships - especially among those same-sex couples who happen to believe in God's acceptance of their innate sexual-orientation - on account of having been created that way.

If Bishop Stevens really believes that a homosexual man can be a priest, he must also accept that gay clergy - and certainly secular gay people - have a right to express their love of another person in a legally-sanctioned marital relationship. Even Paul said: "It is better to marry than burn".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 1:10am BST

+Leicester, do you WANT to kill off the CofE? If so, keep it up!

...but for those of us who (if even at a distance) have some warmth of feeling for her, your proposals are tremendously disconcerting. If you sow homophobia in the name of the CofE, you will ultimately reap the utter rejection of the CofE. It's really just that simple.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 1:20am BST

The bishops had better keep their mouths shut. Do they want to stay in Parliament or not?

It is unfortunate that it is the convenor of the lords spiritual who is mooting wrecking amendments - amendments that are hardly likely to fly or win the Church any popularity in the face of an overwhelming majority in the Commons. It would be better if opposition came from individual bishops rather than that the impression be given that they are united in their opposition to the bill.

Just as in 1832 and 1911 the lords spiritual salvaged something from the wreckage of their credibility by splitting (though only a couple remained in the last ditch in 1911), so too they might just get away with it if they are seen to be at odds with each other on gay marriage. If up to 10 or so of the 26 (less two vacancies?) abstain or vote for the bill then the Church might not be seen as a lost cause for progressives and parliamentary reformers.

The decision the bishops take is likely to have a material bearing on their remaining in the legislature. This is a question of their survival, and it is very doubtful that the issue of civil marriage for gay people is worth an act of parliamentary suicide. The bishops need to bear in mind that the more the Conservatives lag in the polls, the more likely it is that Labour will win outright or in league with the Liberal Democrats, and that the further reform of the upper house will follow. Now is not the time to antagonise progressive opinion on this measure or for the lords spiritual to blot their political copy books with the left and centre left. The left will remember any prelatical obstructionism if reform of the chamber comes back onto the agenda after the next election, which is now in only two years' time. Moreover, if it proves difficult, if not impossible, for a Labour or Lib-Lab government to move right away from existing economic policies, then reform will become much more likely, both to bind any coalition of the left together, and to differentiate a Lib-Lab pact from its Con-Dem predecessor. That is why we had a first phase of Lords reform fourteen years ago: Blair needed to do it because in almost all other respects his ministry was merely a continuation of the previous government, and his brand needed to be distinguished from Major's and the weight of expectation upon him satisfied. Faced with this challenge, the lords spiritual will need to be rather more adept politically.

BTW, why is there a convenor at all; shouldn't leadership be coming from the archbishops?

Posted by: J Drever on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 1:55am BST

"It would be better if opposition came from individual bishops" J. Drever

It will be interesting to see if any of the closeted, gay, married Bishops in the House of Lords will speak against the Bill.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 10:04am BST

I would say that the bishops are honour bound to make amendments after all the fuss they've created. I think they've taken on too many debating points from NOM/C4M to be honest and so will blather on about teachers and so on. They will struggle to improve on the quadruple lock.

They may want there to be teachers teaching the old definition of marriage after the new one has been adopted. It is of course no use - children will find out in any case. It's not like you can keep it a secret by not teaching it [to be honest only the old definition needs to be taught because young people wil automatically assume people can get married].

So I say - amend away. They should, though, bear in mind that the bill will return to the Commons where the main hostile amendments have been rejected by a very large majority on a free vote (majorities of 2:1 or more).

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 11:47am BST

The Bishops of the Church of England permit the marriage of divorced people. This was once clearly against their teaching. This position has been reversed and the House itself provides evidence of this in its own members. How long must we wait for the House to accept the changed understanding of homosexuality and the existence of Christian homosexuals couples who share the vocation to Christian marriage? I avoid the language of 'rights', but I am sorely tempted to use it.

Posted by: commentator on Sunday, 26 May 2013 at 7:44pm BST
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