Comments: Government responds to earlier legal opinion on same-sex marriage

A very good response from the government team. the efforts of the nay-sayers, to aid and abet the fear of the Churches that they might have to celebrate marriage between two persons of the same gender, 'who love one another and want to celebrate that love for the rest of their lives', has been pitiful.

While the Church continues to deny the possibility of God's involvement in loving same-sex relationships; it is incumbent on those within the Churches - who believe in that possibility - to affirm and encourage them.

Same-Sex Marriage is not a threat to Heterosexual Marriage. rather, it could prove an encouragement to others - that life-long commitment can prove to be an enrichment, and not a diminishing, of the love between two people, that could issue in only good for both Church and Society - wherein other people's children can be nurtured and loved.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 11:18pm GMT

Rather a smoke screen as interpretation of law is laid down by the Courts. I am not sure that this government can be trusted. When Civil Partnerships were introduced it was said to give the same rights as marriage - what has happened to change that?

Posted by Joseph Golightly at Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 10:54am GMT

The response claims regarding the Hospital Chaplain scenario: 'This concerns conduct outside employment and whether it should affect employment – which is possible depending on the circumstances. However, the minister’s views are entirely lawful (and indeed would be a completely mainstream view) and it would not be a permissible application of the equality duty to say that a religious person holding such lawful religious beliefs should not be a chaplain in the public sector.'

I'm sorry, but, as Adrian Smith found out, there is a long road of an employment tribunal and hate mail before an employer's permissible actions of demotion and salary reduction are judged to be unfair. Mr. Smith's Facebook comments made in his own time were lawful. He just spent a long time trying to prove it, without the possibility of being reinstated.

To say that person will not be 'compelled' cannot prevent an employer from demoting and passing over staff who contradict policy outside of work, all in the safe knowledge that the employee would have to resort to lengthy litigation in order to avoid being compelled.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 12:48pm GMT

One major change has been Equal Marriage becoming increasingly available elsewhere in the world. Marriage is recognised in these countries, and CU is not, leading to same-sex partnerships being recognised only here, when they need to be recognised in other countries as well.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 2:15pm GMT

What 'has happened' Joseph is that we want equality, and we will have it.

If you want a civil partnership go ahead.

I find Aidan O'Neill underwhelming both in person and in print. His manufactured problems and objections just don't cut it.

In fact, it is embarrassing.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 2:43pm GMT

More huffing and puffing - and good heavens they think they may be able to erm, delay it !

John Gummer talking sense :

However, Lord Deben, who as John Gummer served as a Tory minister and the party’s chairman, attacked the “inconsistency” of those Conservatives who voted against the Bill in the Commons. He plans to vote in favour when the legislation reaches the Lords.

“If you believe in fidelity and permanence it seems an odd thing not to encourage people to celebrate that,” Lord Gummer said.

“Science has taught us that some people have this attraction and don’t have heterosexual attraction. This is now universally agreed and so it is the right thing to do for society to acknowledge that.”

He added: “I find it very difficult to listen to the inconsistency of people who themselves have been several times married now standing up in the House of Commons and defending the sanctity of marriage.”

Lord Deben also criticised free-market Tories who held libertarian views “on all other matters”, but made an exception on gay marriage.

“That doesn’t seem very logical to me,” he said. “This is a libertarian issue.”

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 10 February 2013 at 2:56pm GMT

As Simon says in the post, it is a great shame the whole opinion has not been published. I picked up a copy of the whole thing left lying about at one of the meetings organised to galvanise opposition to equal marriage amongst religious leaders. The tone and feel of the opinion is far more balanced than the summary implies, this barrister was given a range of questions and hypothetical situations and paid to give his opinion.
I would be glad to read an opinion from Aidan on the Bill as drafted. Does it, in his view, answer the problems the government claims?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 11 February 2013 at 3:59pm GMT

It is also to be deplored that the Government has declined to publish the opinion of the Attorney-General on whether the 'quadruple locks' in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would survive a challenge in the ECtHR, Margaret Miller claiming to MPs in December that this was 'privileged information.' However, as I pointed out in my letter in the Church Times on 21/28 December 2012, the privilege is that of the client—in this case the Government—not the lawyer, so that, if Mrs Miller wished, she could publish the advice. The fact that she has declined to do so will only add to the concern of those who consider that the legislation will not (and cannot) give adequate protection in law to those who do not accept the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.

The Government has published the legal advice it has received on the consequences of a 'yes' vote for Scottish independence "to ensure there is as much clarity as possible so that the people of Scotland have the best information available" (news report in The Times, 11 February 2013, page 12). It should do the same in respect of its own legislation for same-sex marriage.

Posted by David Lamming at Tuesday, 12 February 2013 at 9:27pm GMT

I must say I am against the publishing of legal advice to the government unless there are specific reasons. In this case I think there are a number of legal opinions all saying the same thing.

You can and should trust the government. The Scottish matter is quite a different matter - it is still rare to publish.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 12:43am GMT

Ex Catholics do NOT outnumber current Catholics in the US but are a substantial number (about 10% of the population--If they were a denomination they would be bigger than Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians.). The Catholic church in the US is about 24% of population and the only reason it's not shrinking like all other denominations, is immigration.

1 in 3 cradle Catholics will leave, and increasingly those who stay are disengaged from the Church. For every new Catholic who joins, three will leave.

Rates of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation are also dropping, showing a continuing loss of engagement and identification with The Church at the level of the family.


Posted by it at Friday, 15 February 2013 at 11:43pm GMT
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