Saturday, 24 May 2014

Civil Partnership Review: response from Roman Catholic bishops

The response from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship to “Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales): a consultation” is available to download here.

It is also reproduced by the Catholic Herald in this article: Don’t convert same-sex civil partnerships automatically into marriages, urge bishops.

Archbishop Peter Smith issued this additional comment:

“My recent comment on civil partnerships was solely in response to a specific government consultation on whether to abolish civil partnerships or convert them all into marriages in law. My comment should not be misunderstood. The question at issue is one of individual conscience for those who are in same sex civil partnerships and who do not want to enter into same sex marriage because of their deeply held belief that marriage is between a man and a woman only. In requesting the government to respect their consciences by leaving the existing civil partnership law unchanged, I was dealing solely with this issue of conscience which has now arisen given the current law, and my response should not be misinterpreted as a wider commentary on civil partnerships in general.”

The Cutting Edge Consortium issued this statement:

CUTTING EDGE CONSORTIUM WELCOMES CATHOLIC BISHOPS AFFIRMATION OF CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS

The Cutting Edge Consortium welcomes the response from the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales’ Department of Christian Responsibility & Citizenship to the Government’s recent Civil Partnership Review Consultation.

The Catholic Bishops affirm both the importance of civil partners’ legal rights and that civil partnerships should be retained as a future viable option for same-sex couples.

The Statement is consistent with what a number of individual bishops, including Pope Francis, have said in recent years, that these legal rights contribute to both stability of relationships, and to the common good of society as a whole.

The response also highlights the fact that many people will share protected human rights characteristics, including both faith and sexual orientation, and these rights must be taken into account when respecting people’s choices and courses of action.

The Church of England response was published earlier, and can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 May 2014 at 10:47pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

"Now that the horse has fled [for greener pastures], that old second-class barn---which we fought tooth&nail---is looking surprisingly good to us! Especially that plausible-deniability about Teh Gay Sex it affords!"

Oh, Rome: you're just so you. :-p

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 12:06am BST

Those that went to school in the intermittent periods when mathematics included some elementary set theory will recall the Venn diagram. Overlapping circles drawn inside a box. Three overlapping circles allow you to place elements that are members of 0, 1, 2 or 3 sets in their rightful place.

http://www.sciencehq.com/mathematics/euler-venn-diagram.html

The Catholic Church is drawing its own Venn diagram. In the big rectangle, all the people in England. In one circle, all the people who are bothered about what the Catholic Church thinks. Let us call that set "A". In the second circle, set "B", all the people who have entered into a civil partnership and are there, presumably, gay and, in most worlds other than the fantasies of Catholic priests, either now or have been at some point sexually active. And in the third circle, "C" all the people who are vehemently opposed to equal marriage. The Catholic Church wants to believe that right in the middle (the intersection of all three sets) are some non-trivial set of people who are at least nominally Catholic, who have entered into a civil partnership, and are yet still exercised by equal marriage.

It would be nice if they could produce, oh, one such couple. Yeah, I know: they're living in secret, terrified of the gay inquisition coming around or something.

And you also have to admire the selflessness of a church which can campaign for the interests of unrepentant sinners who have flagrantly entered into civil partnerships, of which the church completely disapproves, but don't want those partnerships converted into marriages. Isn't it charitable to campaign on that basis? I mean, only the worst sort of cynic would think that the Catholic Church was, in fact, creating a straw man in order to continue to attempt to denigrate equal marriage.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 8:42am BST

JCF, I agree that to construe this as bishops supporting RC gay people is nothing short of ridiculous, but our bishops are doing exactly the same! We certainly are not in any position to cast stones across the Tiber.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 8:46am BST

What is the point in the RC Church asking those questions at all if they do not intend to permit either those in Civil Partnerships or Same Sex Marriages to take communion if they are not celibate? Or have I misunderstood something?

Posted by: Sound on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 9:09am BST

Seems so very much like the dilemma being experienced by the Church of England!

Step 1: Vigorously oppose Civil Partnerships.

Interval - then Same-Sex Marriage approved

Step 2: Approve of Civil Partnerships, but don';t allow any official Blessing of Same-Sex Marriage.

This is people's lives the Church is playing with here. This is not a game of chess!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 12:27pm BST

I think the point that people should not be forced to have their partnership changed into marriage is valid. There are couples who would never have chosen marriage and all the government should do, if it wants to abolish CPs, is to ensure they are no longer available to new couples.

I am slightly bemused by the theological thinking that must have gone into arriving at a point that welcomes legal stability for relationships that are an intrinsic evil and I wonder how long that double think can actually last.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 1:05pm BST

Erika,

Could we have the source on the RC judgement of same sex relationships as an intrinsic evil? Or is that hyperbole?

As far as I can tell, the Catechism states that only homosexual *acts* (sexual?) are disordered, which is a considerable difference from 'intrinsic evil.'

I understand that as Anglicans we do not agree with Rome, but let's try to be fair.

Posted by: Tristan on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 2:08pm BST

It seems to me that everything about civil partnership-marriage would less fraught if the UK had done what France did. One order of civil relationship with its guarantees and obligations is Civil Relationship, not limited by any means to people of the same sex, nor I believe to people not in a close family relationship. The other civil order is marriage with its own and somewhat different guarantees and obligations. Making civil partnerships ONLY same-sex, implies that it is (as it was) a same-sex substitute for marriage and therefore should now be converted into the fuller and/or different relationship. Just a thought.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 6:16pm BST

But the church is very good at 'double think', Erika. Yesterday Chichester Diocese celebrated the 20th anniversary of the priesting of women with a Eucharist in the Cathedral presided over by the Diocesan, who not only will not ordain women, but also voted against the legislation for enabling them to be consecrated Bishops. It was a very odd occasion!

The extraordinary thing is that these people think that their stance on civil partnership, as with women priests, will be understood by the people. I fact, most people are completely bewildered by it all and inconsequence the church is further derided as hypocritical and out of touch. It really can't go on like this. Or can it?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 6:44pm BST

Erika: a looooong time! a bit like the notion that marriages that fail never really happened in the first place and can be annulled.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 9:46pm BST

I have no idea how many 'Thinking Anglicans' respondents are Roman Catholics, but this RC is taken aback by an old-style anti-Roman prejudice, not so subtly concealed in many of these comments. "The Catholic Church wants to believe that right in the middle (the intersection of all three sets) are some non-trivial set of people who are at least nominally Catholic, who have entered into a civil partnership, and are yet still exercised by equal marriage."
I am not 'nominally Catholic' but fully practising, openly gay, in a relationship for 38 years, and in a civil partnership since June 2006. My partner and I are some of those who have been in conversation with our Bishops on these matters. We wish neither to be 'up-graded' nor 'converted' into same-sex marriage. We rejoice in the particularity of CPs for same-sex partners. While we do not base our rejection of same-sex marriage on the view that 'marriage is between one man and one woman', we do have conscientiously held theological difficulties, given that Roman Catholic teaching on marriage holds that sacramental marriage is a reflection of the union of Christ (male) with the Church (female). As two males this is a doctrinal iconography which we cannot embrace. We believe that our civil partnership, as a permanent union, is just as sacramental as marriage. based on the understanding that it is the couple who minister the sacrament to each other. In the absence of common-law status in England & Wales for opposite sex couples we also support the extension of CPs to those who do not wish to contract heterosexual marriage.

Posted by: martin on Sunday, 25 May 2014 at 11:35pm BST

@ Martin: Dude, the idea of Christ as the male spouse of the female church is a figure of speech used by ONE biblical writer of a book loaded with such figures of speech. Fortunately, dogmaticians have had the good sense to avoid basing any of its formulations on such figures of speech. IT'S POETRY, dude.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 12:48am BST

"but our bishops are doing exactly the same!"

Lorenzo, recall that I'm a Yank Episcopalian, so those would be *your* CofE bishops. But other than that, I don't disagree w/ your comment at all. *SOME* Anglicans bishops are Imago-Dei-Made-LGBT&Espoused-Appropriately affirming (in a way that *no* Roman bishops are), but on the whole, the bishops of the Anglican Communion need to do MUCH, much better (in fidelity to the Gospel of Christ).

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 12:54am BST

Martin: thanks for your comment. So could you clarify something? Are you and your partner permitted to take communion? Or are you asked for an assurance that your civil partnership is a celibate one?

Posted by: Sound on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 1:05am BST

Thank you, Martin, for your clear statement of what you believe to be the Roman Catholic view of Marriage - that it is a sacrament contracted between the two people involved. What the Church does (or can do) is add a blessing.

This, seemingly, is what the Church of England is not - at this moment - prepared to do.

I wonder if Pope Francis - who seems like God's gift to your Church - might accept the fact that committed same-sex couples deserve the blessing of the Church on their mongamous relationships? If this happens, it certainly would provide a good way forward for our own Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 2:04am BST

"While we do not base our rejection of same-sex marriage on the view that 'marriage is between one man and one woman', we do have conscientiously held theological difficulties, given that Roman Catholic teaching on marriage holds that sacramental marriage is a reflection of the union of Christ (male) with the Church (female)."

Martin, I hope I am not being remotely anti-RC in asking you to unpack this sentence further. I can't understand the distinction you are making here. It sounds as though you are saying: "while I don't hold that 2+2=4, Catholic teaching holds that 4 is the sum of 2+2". Am I missing something?

having said that, thank you for your contribution. it is helpful to be reminded that there are real people in the centre of Interested's Venn diagramme.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 2:55am BST

It's hardly anti-Roman prejudice, martin, when folk have been just as critical of the CofE stance on this issue. It's not anti-Roman, it's anti-hypocrite.

Posted by: Jo on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 6:34am BST

And as Paul reminds us in Christ there is no male or female (east or west, gay or straight, black or white, aryan or Jew, aristocrat or plebian etc) for in him we are all one.

Also I guess the difference (significant or not) between the hypocrisy in the RC church and that in our own (whether C-of-E or TEC) is that we can and do talk about it in public, in synod, in print, on the air - there is no obligation to speak with one voice (alleluia).

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 8:32am BST

Quite how the contention that the intersection of three sets is for practical purposes null constituted "anti-roman prejudice" is unclear: cross out Catholicism, write in the protestant group of your choice, I'd say the same thing.

Your argument appears to be that you want something that's like marriage in every way except for the name. You're entitled to your opinion. I hope you won't trot out some other accusation of anti-papist extremism when I say that it's a trivial point, and not one that the law should be complicated to support. Your objection is not to your partnership, but what it's called, that's all.

Civil partnerships only exist because of the cowardice of Labour in the case of the CofE: ironically, the Conservatives, being the CofE at prayer and all that, were more willing to stare them down. They're a contingent status, only existing for reasons to do with a particular time and place.

I'd be happy to see legislation passed, just for you, which permits you to call your marriage something else. But not for the whole economy to be burdened with having to deal with two different statuses that are 99% the same but have differences sufficient to mean that (for example) pension and tax case-law is going to significantly increase in size. If, today, the appeal court makes a finding for a couple in a civil partnership, does it apply to people in marriages? Who knows? And why should we pay to find out?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 10:20am BST

I welcome Martin's real life experience and personal narrative.

His position is (to me) an example of what would need to be respected and protected (on conscience grounds) in a Church of England operating "unity in diversity". It is reasonable, it is a conscience issue, and it is his actual and real life.

Having said that, I think Martin is incorrect to suggest anti-RC motivation here, because the concerns many of us express here are directed equally towards the Anglican positions.

In addition, my complaint would be that uniformity should not be enforced in the Church of England from a top-down episcopal authority, which ignores the clear diversity of consciences on this issue, and tries to impose just one against the others.

That is not "unity in diversity". It is one group of the Church of England over-riding the 'reasonable' consciences and actual real lives of another group.

It won't work.

Whereas there does seem to be a tradition of centralised top-down authority operating in the Roman Catholic Church (to a degree), this is not the Anglican model - or should not be.

We are at an extremely damaging impasse here in England, where imposing uniform dogma against the will and consciences of so many people will not work. Only "unity in diversity" can work.

Many gay and lesbian Anglican Christians are already having sex, want to be married, reject sanctions against their dignity and integrity and fidelity. *That* is the argument here, not anti-Roman Catholicism.

I identify as catholic myself.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 10:58am BST

It mustn't be forgotten that here in the UK (remember this is a UK blog) the main gay organisation Stonewall was opposed to gay marriage until 2010!

They had helped steer through the Civil Partnership Bill and supported a policy that was anticipated seeing Civil Partnership take over from marriage as the legally recognised gold standard for all couples. That policy, which would have left marriage as a religious bolt on, never materialised.

There was deep resistance particularly amongst lesbian feminists to the idea of seeing what they saw as a corrupt and abusive institution rolled out as something gays should aspire to.

In the UK there remain a small (diminishing) group of gay people and liberal intellectuals who are willing to state their discomfort over equal marriage, some have changed their view but it's not inconceivable that there will always be those even in that constituency who remain convinced gay marriage is not "a good thing".

As to the mystical union of Christ with his Church, I see nothing to limit that mystical union to heterosexual couples ..... Mystical tradition would surely see gender as neutral or irrelevant.
Would the same then apply to the charism of Holy Orders for martin, I wonder .........

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 12:10pm BST

It's great to have the RCs on board. They are now in a position to say positive things about Civil Partnerships. Great. We move forward slowly, very slowly but still forward. We can be very glad of that and it shows the necessity of equality of marriage for this type of conversation to take place (it certainly wouldn't without it).

Yes it's tempting to point up some contradictions but as has been said we have contradictions aplenty on our side! I am glad to hear witness from Martin about his perspective. I think it's a valid one and one of the reasons I support continuing CPs.

As to Sara's idea that CPs should be open to all couples I personally agree. The reason is that some straight couples may not wish to marry for whatever reason (including religious reasons such as divorce). The state should leave the choice to individual couples rather than presume to make it for them.

The main opponents of such a move are the CofE and the RCC otherwise I think it would easily pass.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 12:16pm BST

Tristan
“although the homosexual inclination is not itself a sin, it constitutes a more or less strong tendency towards behaviour which is intrinsically evil, and thus the inclination itself must be considered objectively disordered”

Homosexualitatis Problema, CDF 1986, Paragraph 3

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 1:37pm BST

Martin R, the views of lesbian feminists are hardly representative of the views of most women. They are entitled to object to the concept of marriage if they wish - and would be an example of a conscience issue to be protected in a diverse church, if they wished to exercise it in their own personal lives - but feminism is a minority ideology which is not embraced by the majority of women.

I believe most women (and men!) probably want marriage as a public and personal affirmation (and for some, sacrament) of their fidelity, their tender love, their lives.

I believe that is the new mainstream.


Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 1:47pm BST

"That policy, which would have left marriage as a religious bolt on, never materialised."

Because no political party that wanted to ever get elected ever again could possibly support such a policy. Sure, in its own terms, it's internally consistent. But the optics would be shocking: "ban marriage, say gays", and as the only people supporting such a policy would be a minority of gay people and, well, almost no-one else, it would fail. And what would it achieve: what, seriously, is claimed to be the difference between "marriage" and "civil partnership" that isn't about the name?

People who have had a perfectly reasonable expectation of being able to marry in a register office would no longer be able to, and they are a massively largely constituency than the handful of people the policy you propose would please. Extending marriage to gay couples harms no-one. Removing marriage from the population at large to satisfy a small minority amongst the gay community would be politically impossible, and anyone advancing it would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

The law is as it stands. No-one will revisit it. The chances of civil partnerships continuing to be available to same-sex couples are very small, the chances of civil partnerships being made available to opposite-sex couples are close to zero. Retrospective conversion will be largely popular (most people took civil partnerships because marriage was denied them, not because they adjured marriage) and will greatly simplify tax and pension law. The debate is over.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 1:51pm BST

>> It mustn't be forgotten that here in the UK (remember this is a UK blog)

Perhaps the site name should be changed then to reflect the *type* of Anglican desired here.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 2:03pm BST

This is the internet.

TA is a blog, edited (at present) by people who all live in England and therefore naturally focus mostly on life in the Church of England and the other Anglican provinces in Europe. Readers from all over the world are entirely welcome.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 2:22pm BST

Of course, the church is not in fact female. It is made up of men and women both.

The imagery used in Ephesians does not actually say that the church is the "bride" (a concept borrowed from Revelation) but that men should love their wives _as_ Christ loved the church, which is his Body (the Body of which he is the Head). Sex is irrelevant, for head and body do not have different sexes.

And as to the imagery in Revelation, the "bride" is the New Jerusalem, and the "groom" the Lamb. Hardly an issue of male and female.

Close reading of what Scripture actually says is helpful in avoiding strained theological assertions, whether English or Roman.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 3:08pm BST

"Perhaps the site name should be changed" -- the site name is thinkinganglicans.org.uk, which is a bit of a clue. The "About TA" article linked from the left of the main page and posted as the very first TA article also makes this clear.

As my co-editor comments, those outside the UK are welcome too.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 3:39pm BST

FYI @Simon Kershaw, just a minor point of order, I always seem to have accessed it via, "http://www.thinkinganglicans.org/" not .org.uk... so the .org.uk domain is new to me.... but I get your drift thanks for the clarification that it's an English site, rather than British or worldwide. cheers!

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 3:47pm BST

Yes, you're right -- we own the .org domain as well and have configured our server to respond to both URLs. But we always use and publicise the .org.uk version: links to comments and permalinks and so on ae all to the .org.uk name even if you arrive via the .org name. I agree that this is rather low-profile / subtle. Perhaps we should make the .org URL redirect to the .org.uk one rather than being a first-class URL.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 4:55pm BST

While I think the term 'marriage' is appropriate for both opposite-sex and same-sex partnerships, I hope the government will allow civil partnerships to remain and extend these to opposite-sex partners who feel that the language of marriage does not fit their relationship. It is also positive that so many Roman Catholics in England are now broadly affirming towards partnered LGBT people, despite the official Vatican position, though there is a still a long way to go.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 6:13pm BST

"As to Sara's idea that CPs should be open to all couples I personally agree."

Aside from the name, and not being recognised in other countries, could you outline any material way in which this would differ from marriage? Many couples in civil partnerships refer to themselves as "married": there's nothing stopping people who are married referring to themselves as in "civil partnerships". The rest of the debate is utterly facile: marriage as currently defined and civil partnership as it would exist in any reasonable definition are indistinguishable.

Equal marriage solves an obvious injustice. Civil partnerships for same-sex couples was a step along the way (making the seats at the back of the bus more comfortable). Civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples are of no interest to anyone outside a handful of Islington dinner parties.

"The reason is that some straight couples may not wish to marry for whatever reason"

Then they don't need to. Or they can do a "two strangers off the street" register office jobbie and call it something else. No-one is going to waste time, money and political capital on constructing a new status that has absolutely no public momentum.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 6:42pm BST

"The reason is that some straight couples may not wish to marry for whatever reason"

And I have no problem with that, after all, it's not up to me to tell people how to live their lives.

But someone should tell them that one of the reasons we didn't like civil partnerships is that they aren't portable and that you will not count as married in other countries.
Yes, the government can negotiate individual agreements with every single other country in the world (how likely is that?), but no, there's no guarantee that local hospitals etc. will be aware of those agreements or honour them (cf. the experience of gay couples in some American states).

At least people should be aware that their CPs may be a dangerous option if they ever plan to travel or work abroad or if they ever get involved in a custody battle abroad.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 7:04pm BST

" I hope the government will allow civil partnerships to remain and extend these to opposite-sex partners"

They won't.

Labour aren't in office. If they do get into office in 2015 they will be probably be a minority government, and will have much more pressing problems than a middle-class nomenclature issue which would be seen as "weakening marriage". They also have no interest in a lengthy dispute amongst wonks about what civil partnership would look like.

The Tories aren't going to touch marriage ever again, because it's not worth the political risk with their base.

The Lib Dems have ceased to exist, and will have only a tiny rump of MPs after 2015 (they lost 91% of MEPs about about 75% of councillors this week).

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 7:37pm BST

A Catholic bishops conference has no real authority. In some parts of the world other conferences are currently fighting the introduction of civil partnerships.

It was really bizarre when the film "The Passion" was released some conferences praised it (USA) and others (Swiss) criticised it!

It is Catholic theology that to assist persons or help facilitate their sin is a sin of a very serious nature.The Universal catechism states:

section 1868: Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

- by protecting evil-doers.

.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 10:22pm BST

Savi Hensman's comment above is so very apt. There will still be Gay people who do not want a Church ceremony to cover their relationship. As, also, there will be heterosexual couples who do not want the Church to 'bless' their relationship. So Civil Partnerships could be made available to both. After all, not all marriages take place in Church.

Let those who are Church people be married in their Church if they would prefer that - whatever their gender or sexuality. After all, they are members of the Body of Christ, which, as St. Paul reminds us, is not gender-bound.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 26 May 2014 at 10:37pm BST

Civil partnerships restricted only to same-sex couples should be abolished because they violate the principle of equality before the law. Civil partnerships fail to deliver the same rights and protections as civil marriage because they lack portability from one country to another. New York State, for example, will not recognize them because New York has never had civil unions. New York recognizes marriages from England, however, so a couple with a civil partnership wishing to live in New York would have to go down to city hall to get married in order to be recognized.

Civil partnerships should be converted to marriage as soon as possible. This is what the State of New Hampshire did with its civil unions when it passed the marriage equality bill. California, on the other hand, has kept domestic partnerships because they are open to both same-sex and sex-discordant couples. The PACS pacte civil de solidarité has always been open to both same-sex and sex-discordant couples, but its primary purpose was to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage.

Notions of gender complementarity are not anything civil law should recognize. Whereas churches can practice gender and sexual orientation discrimination, the state should offer the same benefits to all. Someone who is unhappy with their religion could change religions, but that is not the case for the state, which, in a liberal democracy, protect people's civil liberties and personal autonomy. Churches are free to stigmatize abortion and divorce, whereas the state ought not.

Finally, civil partnerships create problems for transgender which equal marriage does not. Currently, if one of the spouses of a civil partnership changes their gender identification, they must dissolve their civil partnership and marry within twenty-four hours. All this for the same two people because the state has outdated notions of gender identity and expression.


Gary Paul Gilbert


Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 6:44am BST

Fr Ron,
what would civil partnerships do for non-church couples that a register office marriage doesn't already do?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 9:44am BST

"There will still be Gay people who do not want a Church ceremony to cover their relationship."

So they can go to a register office.

"After all, not all marriages take place in Church."

Precisely.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 10:55am BST

There are some people - including quite a number of women - for whom the term 'marriage' is linked with concepts they find unappealing, including sometimes women's subjugation. That is not how I see it, but it did commonly have that meaning for many years, and in some circles it still does. Some of those who fought for the freedoms which LGBT people and women in general now enjoy, in an era when this required considerable courage, would find the notion of being 'married' themselves very off-putting, even if they believe that others should have that right. It is likely that, among both opposite-sex and same-sex couples who do not wish to be 'married', civil partnerships will provide at least some legal protection, even if this is not as much (when overseas) as if they were legally married.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 12:01pm BST

Erika. You are so right! Absolutely nothing. In fact, in view of what Gary Paul Gilbert is saying, the sooner Civil Partnerships are scrapped the better for all concerned - except, perhaps, the Churches - that can continue insisting on marriage as suitable for opposite sex relationships only.

As Gary points out, in some civil jurisdictions there is no recognition of Civil Partnerships - which seems manifestly unjust.

All in all, it seems better for marriages - of whatever constituency - to be civilly registered. In that way, only the Churches miss out.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 12:09pm BST

"It is likely that, among both opposite-sex and same-sex couples who do not wish to be 'married', civil partnerships will provide at least some legal protection,"

Again: apart from the name, how would the two statuses differ?

Would you accept a single clause piece of legislation which says "marriage can also be referred to as civil partnership"? If not, what difference would you envisage?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 3:18pm BST

Well despite well argued views here, I am confident a government in the near future will decide that the state has no part to play in performing marriages.

Authorising them to happen and registering the event has taken place, definately, but having a local government functionary perform the ceremony will soon be a thing of the past.

The proposal to authorise a diverse and large number of "celebrants" will be back on the cards and in the statute books within the decade and outside the Church, the authorisation of buildings for marriage will cease.

If CPs are abandoned, then will the government recognise civil unions from abroad as marriage - the reverse of Kitzinger and Wilkinson?
The interesting thing, Susannah Clark, is that despite the small number of adherents, lesbian feminism held Stonewall in thrall for some time and would seem to punch way above its weight. We are seeing Savi repeat some of its mantras above.

I am one of those who most want to see this matter resolved one way or the other as the government appears to be holding back on regulations to enable civil partners to marry until after the consultations are complete and absorbed! As Laurie says elsewhere ...... Hurry up!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 5:35pm BST

Fr Ron
"As Gary points out, in some civil jurisdictions there is no recognition of Civil Partnerships - which seems manifestly unjust"

It's equally complicated in jurisdictions in which civil partnership are recognised, because the content of domestic partnership arrangements varies from country to country and, in America, from state to state.
Only in a minority do CPs confer virtually the same right and responsibilities as marriage.

So your CP'd couple would have to know what level of recognition their partnerships enjoy in different countries and what rights they confer.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 6:27pm BST

"A Catholic bishops conference has no real authority."

To see the mental gymnastics you go through when experiencing cognitive dissonance is simultaneously impressive and exhausting, RIW!

If Pope Francis were to say something similar (to the UK RC bishops), what would you do then? "That's just his opinion"? Sedevacantism? Depart for (much less inclined to say anything other than "SIN!!!") Eastern Orthodoxy? Interesting times.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 at 8:56pm BST

A strange fact, that couples in CPs are still waiting to hear how and when they may marry !


I find it very, very strange. What is going on ? Anyone ?

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 12:55am BST

"I am confident a government in the near future will decide that the state has no part to play in performing marriages."

A political party with a death-wish might debate it at conference, although it's not clear which faction of which party would care enough to bring it up.

They would never be elected, and the measure would not get a second reading. It would either be electorally toxic, or would look like self-indulgent time-wasting. Neither is a good look.

"If CPs are abandoned, then will the government recognise civil unions from abroad as marriage"

Presumably. Does anyone know what the status of an opposite-sex French PACS is in the UK?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 8:47am BST

"If CPs are abandoned, then will the government recognise civil unions from abroad as marriage"

I would be surprised, simply because the different domestic partnership arrangements in different countries have a different content.
And if they are not equal to marriage in terms of rights and responsibilities in their home countries it is hard to see how the UK can treat them as equal here.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 1:43pm BST

IO
"Under a very recent change to the law in France (in April 2009), UK civil partnerships are now recognised in France, as are civil partnerships registered elsewhere abroad. The UK has recognised a French PACS between a same-sex couple (but not for an opposite-sex couple), and viewed it as a UK civil partnership for all UK purposes since the introduction of civil partnerships in the UK in 2005."
http://www.completefrance.com/living-in-france/news/entering_in_a_pacs_agreement_1_1199504

This was the most recent information I could find.
Also this:

So far so good! It is important to remember however that in France non-married couples, whether in a PACS or a UK civil partnership, do not have the same rights as married couples in each others estates on death. Under French inheritance law (which will apply to French property owned by a couple even if the couple are not actually French residents) married couples are automatically entitled to a share in their spouse’s estate. A partner in a PACS or a UK civil partnership has no such rights under French law. However it is often possible, depending on personal circumstances, to enhance the rights on death of a non-married partner. This could be by Will or by creating the so-called right of survivorship over jointly owned property in France whereby the survivor inherits the deceased joint owner’s share. It is important to consider these matters before buying however as the survivorship clause can only be applied in the purchase document for the property: it is not available after the property has been purchased. Equally, before making a Will it is important to consider its implications with regard to French law as French succession law will apply to French owned property regardless of where the owner resides and potentially to all assets if the owner resides in France.

http://www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk/blog/uk-civil-partnerships-fully-recognised-france-traps/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 1:51pm BST

There need not be a death wish.
This proposal only failed last time because of the opposition of Registrars.

What would be on offer is a greater degree of choice about where, when and by whom you could be wed.
That seems to be an attractive policy.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 2:51pm BST

I think we're getting off the subject a bit.

The Roman Catholic Bishops (rather like some Anglican bishops in the Marriage debate) are championing Civil Partnerships (belatedly) in an attempt to make their brand appear less toxic.

It doesn't work.

The public (and growing numbers in the pews) have moved on.

The debate is now about marriage. Most people, in perceiving the Catholic and Anglican attitudes to LGBT, simply see a resistance and an opposition to lesbian and gay couples seeking the same stable, dedicated, and legal status of marriage as any heterosexual couple.

The rest - to a disenchanted public - is just window dressing.

To reasonable, decent, and open-minded people in this country these brands are becoming toxic.

The younger generation, coming through our schools with a far more open and accepting attitude to sexual orientation, must find the churches' attitude to their gay and lesbian friends' ordinary life aspirations... frankly repellent and an embarrassment.

Both Churches are frankly still saying (officially) that celibacy is the appropriate lifestyle for gay and lesbian people. That is completely untenable, not only to the public, but to growing numbers within the Church.

No amount of window-dressing can mask the unacceptability of the Churches' official positions. Not the 'Johnny-come-lately' championing of Civil Partnerships, and not the PR campaign to portray the church as champions against homophobia.

This, from institutions that basically advocate that lesbian and gay people shouldn't have sex, and that their relationships fall into a category of sin at the point they become sexual.

Society has moved on.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 5:41pm BST

JCF... I don't worry because the Holy Spirit leads my Church and if the chief spokesman wanted to go against the comforter , he would go the way of Ananias and Sapphira. However that is unthinkable and I have every confidence in the present Pope, although I concede he needs to watch how the media report and misreport him. he needs more tact ..but I guess that is rich coming from me!

Posted by: Robert ian williams on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 6:59pm BST

"I have every confidence"

Same here---that the Holy Spirit will lead ALL the churches (indeed ALL the Imago Dei) to ***marriage equality*** (in God's Good Time, which I am unlikely to see while in the land o' the living).

"needs more tact": don't we all! ;-)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 9:52pm BST

RIW,
as far as I'm aware there has been no infallible ex Cathedra statement about same sex relationships. It is therefore entirely possible that the Spirit may yet guide the Pope and the Magisterium to the same truth many of us have already noticed.

Susannah is right, society has moved on. And it has moved on because science and psychology have moved on and the real life experience and example of perfectly ordinary gay people has made the truth about us apparent to more and more people.
The fiction that we are all objectively (!) disordered and that our relationships are intrinsic evil is just that - a fiction that had its time and its place but that is no longer sustainable.

I respect Roman Catholicism enormously. It is not a stupid faith, nor a naive one.
It will get there.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 10:04pm BST

Civil unions and domestic partnerships from abroad are recognized as civil partnerships in the UK,often with many more rights and protections than a couple had in the other jurisdiction. A California domestic partnership, for example, confers no federal rights. A civil partnership gives rights at the city, provincial, and national levels. California domestic partnerships have not been abolished because some senior citizens use them to "remarry" without losing certain federal benefits. Domestic partnerships are easy to form in California. A couple merely has to fill in a form, have it notarized, and mail it to the secretary of state. Couples from outside California can do so, as I did.

It is not clear what would happen to recognition of foreign civil unions if civil partnerships were abolished. In general, marriage is a more easily understood term and is easier to get recognized, althought the UK used to downgrade foreign marriages of same-sex couples as civil partnerships.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 5:18am BST

"Civil unions and domestic partnerships from abroad are recognized as civil partnerships in the UK,often with many more rights and protections than a couple had in the other jurisdiction."

Including opposite-sex civil partnerships, as in a French PACS? I've not been able to find any reference to their status in the UK.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 10:55am BST

UK law could state that the rights and duties conferred by marriage shall be deemed applicable to civil partnerships and civil unions and vice versa unless otherwise specified.

Meanwhile the UK government could get on with announcing arrangements to allow those couples who do want to convert civil partnerships to marriages to do so.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 11:00am BST

Savi,
the question is whether other countries would accept that, whether a local hospital in South America would know that, and whether the local domestic legislation in other countries would support that.

I like IO's proposal of simply saying that "marriage" can also be referred to as "civil partnership".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 May 2014 at 12:18pm BST

My guess is that a sex-discordant couple with a foreign civil union would not be recognized in England because civil partnerships are restriced to same-sex couples.

Civil unions confuse people and can never guarantee equal treatment.

Gary Paul Gilbert


Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 7:40am BST

I do not 'think' that Martin Warner's presidency on the occasion cited by Richard exemplified 'double think' in the negative sense. Rather, it exhibited 'double think' in the wholly admirable sense of maintaining a difficult unity within biversity. I find that admirable, even though I think Warner wrong on the issue in question. I think he has 'got a grip' in a way that so many on both/all sides have self-indulgently failed to do. I realise these are difficult issues - but 'Thinking Anglicans' are by definition required to think.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 31 May 2014 at 7:52pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.