Comments: Another response to CofE report: Marriage and Diversity

Good for Jonathan Clatworthy, pity he can't be a bishop. This latest report deserves all he gives it.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 10:26pm BST

Looks like the Bastille is about to fall, can the Church of England be far behind?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/12/france-gay-marriage.html

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 12:58am BST

"One cannot help suspecting that this document is all about power relations in the hierarchy. The proposal for an Anglican Covenant began as an attempt to ‘discipline’ churches with openly gay bishops."

Indeed it did. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office shot for the moon, and they fell flat on their faces.

And as a result, Communion relationships have changed. Any attempt now by the Church of England, to arrogate to itself anything more than invitatory power, will be met with defiance and scorn.

Why should TEC, Canada, New Zealand, even Australia, pay any attention anymore to Canterbury and London, when the Church of England has so obviously become the Church of Discrimination?

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 2:09am BST

Yes, Jonathan got it. Ultimately, discrimination is always about power. Inherently someone is deciding that someone else is less worthy of equality and dignity - i.e. they are not equally created in the image of God in the eyes of the power mongers.

It really is that simple. Driving it is ignorance and irrational fear. It is virtually impossible for such people to see reason, especially if their power interests are aligned with status quo discrimination.

Jeremy is quite correct. If you look on TEC blogs, people who used to care about the Anglican Communion now don't. Rowan's insistence that TEC throw our gays and WB's under a bus (and our PB too, apparently) to be in unity with human rights abusers was not well received. Now that we can see the illogic, bigotry, poor theology, and power processes behind that, there isn't a chance that we'll be respecting much out of Canterbury.

The ABC is a political post in the UK, picked by a minuscule committee of whomever. If the person really had spiritual authority, I think people would take note. That report from the Faith and Order Commission however, was received with a yawn and maybe a joke in the US.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 5:18pm BST

I suggest Juliet said wise words, on her balcony. "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
This implies two things. First, what matters is what a person is in himself or herself, not the groups to which he or she belongs. Secondly, the facts of biology (whether horticultural, animal or human) are not changed by calling something by a different name.
If we have "marriage equality" we shall have three kinds of marriage, rather than one. Now, we have man/woman marriage. Then, we will have man/woman marriage; man/man marriage; and woman/woman marriage. They will be different because sexual relations and procreation will be different for each. For example, the two new forms of marriage will require a third party for procreation, but the assistance given by the third party will be different.

Posted by John Ross Martyn at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 8:23pm BST

"Then, we will have man/woman marriage; man/man marriage; and woman/woman marriage."

I suppose we will, if we insist on divvying up human/human marriage into discrete subcategories.

[Of course, depending on how we define man and woman, it could be argued that we already have (quite legal) man/man marriage, since chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype do not always match. Somehow we all manage to muddle through in spite of this.]

"They will be different because sexual relations and procreation will be different for each."

Don't look now, but "sexual relations and procreation" already differ among male/female couples. The idea that either of sex or procreation are uniform across the whole set of all heterosexual couples is simply mistaken.

"For example, the two new forms of marriage will require a third party for procreation, but the assistance given by the third party will be different."

A good number of heterosexual couples already rely on third parties for procreation. For quite a few of them - as it was for my parents - the requirement is for two third parties: they adopt.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 11:45pm BST

"If we have "marriage equality" we shall have three kinds of marriage, rather than one."
- John Ross Martyn -

And maybe even another one! What about the mention of "The Marriage Feast of The Lamb" in Scripture?

This latter implies nothing about sexual congress, but much about non-generative filial relationship.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 6:48am BST

"Rowan's insistence that TEC throw our gays and WB's under a bus (and our PB too, apparently) to be in unity with human rights abusers was not well received."

I've made that point repeatedly on various Guardian CiF blogs, and been shouted down by defenders of the CofE status quo. I'm not religious, but I care deeply about the credibility of this country in the human rights arena. The post-war CofE has been an advocate for justice, and has a proud record on Apartheid, debt relief and other development issues. Part of the power of the CofE is its link to the government and the polity of the UK.

So the flipside of that is that if the CofE both engages in discrimination itself, and supports and enables people involved in far worse discrimination, then it matters more than if some random group meeting in a school hall do the same. WIlliams was more interested in appeasing the African churches than behaving decently, probably in the manner of the sort of naive "anti-imperialism" that contaminates the left; an unwillingness to assert universal human rights, or accept that the sometimes oppressed and can also be oppressors.

If Welby continues the same theme, then the CofE is absolutely doomed in the UK. An organisation which attempts to promote "traditional" views of women and sexuality, taking its line from conservative African churches, will be unacceptable to most of the UK population and utterly unacceptable to any electable government. The CofE will be reduced to an ageing, dying group of hidebound reactionaries whose pronouncements on morality are ignored by everyone else. If, indeed, that hasn't already happened. It is to the credit of liberals in the CofE that they have stayed and fought, but as the years go by, it will become progressively less credible to do so, and decent people will steadily leave for other, more just, organisations.

Which as an outsider, will be a shame for this country. A decent, just CofE benefits this country.

Posted by Interesting Observer at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 8:42am BST

Bill:

'[Of course, depending on how we define man and woman, it could be argued that we already have (quite legal) man/man marriage, since chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype do not always match. Somehow we all manage to muddle through in spite of this.]'

The validity of marriage is detemined by the prima facie representation of the couple at the time it is solemnised. There is no onus upon a couple to provide further proof beyond consistency with the gender on their birth certificates..

In respect of procreation, all marriages entail a uniform permanent contingency for shared rights and responsibilities over potential offspring known as the possibility of issue. Marriage law does not pre-emptively delve into individual capacity. Marriage is restricted to those couples with the prima facie constitutive possibility of issue.

In the case of same sex couples, the possibility of issue, a fundamental precept of marriage law, is meaningless.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 3:07pm BST

"There is no onus upon a couple to provide further proof beyond consistency with the gender on their birth certificates.." David Shepherd

An interesting point.

Prior to the introduction of gender recognition certificates, a friend of mine transitioned fully from being a woman to a man and then lived in a relationship with another man. Given that his gender was still shown as female on his birth certificate and, at that time, was held to be immutably so in law, could he not have married his partner in the Church of England (or a register office) had they wished?

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 5:21pm BST

"The validity of marriage is detemined by the prima facie representation of the couple at the time it is solemnised. There is no onus upon a couple to provide further proof beyond consistency with the gender on their birth certificates."

I am a little surprised to find you thus affirming the validity and licitness of the marriages of post-operative transsexuals; not all conservatives would go so far. Kudos for taking such a courageous stand, and for clearing up a question about impossibilist's attitudes regarding sex and gender: outward appearance is everything. As long as it *looks like* the couple has the proper hardware, God and the Right are well pleased.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 5:44pm BST

"In the case of same sex couples, the possibility of issue, a fundamental precept of marriage law, is meaningless."

I hate to break this to you, but not all couples are faithful. And not all couples are unfaithful within the same gender parameters as their marriage. So if a woman in a civil partnership or (God forbid) a marriage were to fall pregnant, the parental responsibility would be shared with her civil partner/wife.

It is not (and again, I hate to break this to you) for women to give birth to children who cannot, by reason of blood group or other genetic factors, be the woman's husband's child. This does not dilute his rights and responsibilities: a woman's husband has joint parental responsibility, irrespective of the biological fathership. There's no reason this should be different for same-sex marriage.

Posted by interested observer at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 7:12pm BST

Bill:

That depends on what I meant by consistency, eh? The results of surgery can't guarantee that.

You trying way too hard.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 8:14pm BST

Interested observer:

'So if a woman in a civil partnership or (God forbid) a marriage were to fall pregnant, the parental responsibility would be shared with her civil partner/wife.'

The issue of a presumption is whether parental responsibility is automatically shared by her partner. A woman in a civil partnership or (God forbid) same-sex marriage must make a parental responsibility agreement for her partner to become the step-parent. Alternatively, the court can make a parental responsibility order.

It is only under HFEA 2008, that a civil partner who consents to the procedure of a licensed clinic is presumed to be the second parent. This is because any donor is considered to reliquish parental rights via the stipulated consent form. Otherwise, there is no automatic presumption of parenthood for same-sex partners through civil partnership or even the same-sex marriage bill (quoted below).

PRESUMPTION ON BIRTH OF CHILD TO MARRIED WOMAN:

1. Section 11 does not extend the common law presumption that a child born to a woman during her marriage is also the child of her husband.
2. Accordingly, where a child is born to a woman during her marriage to another woman, that presumption is of no relevance to the question of who the child’s parents are.

Get your facts straight.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 8:39pm BST

"That depends on what I meant by consistency, eh? The results of surgery can't guarantee that."

I didn't realize that you were working with a different definition of "consistency" than the one in the dictionary. What exactly did you mean, then, eh?

Actually, as I understand it, surgery isn't an absolute necessity for a transsexual person to acquire a gender recognition certificate and, with it, a UK birth certificate listing their gender as the one they present as having. Which might very well mean that there have been brides who walked down the aisle in possession of male genitalia. Since I doubt that CofE priests are actually demanding that couples demonstrate via visual inspection that their biological sex matches their birth certificate's gender, this stands as much chance of having happened in a church as it does a registry, regardless of guarantees of conscience for clergy (I suppose that suspicious vicars could simply refuse to marry people whose gender bonafides they distrusted, but that's hardly an ironclad guarantee). The Gender Recognition Act received royal assent in 2004, I believe, which means that the precisely delineated landmarks of marriage so beloved by impossibilists haven't been in total effect for about nine years.

Before the passage of the Gender Recognition Act, UK legal opinion insisted for decades that it was impossible for a transexual to legally marry. Legal opinions cited the question of the possibility of issue, and delved into the details of consummation to prove that such a thing was utterly impossible, unheard of, would require the entire concept of marriage to be redefined, etc. Of course, that was before the European Court of Human Rights compelled the UK to change the law. Not only does it show that UK marriage law is not quite as the laws of the Medes and the Persians, but it shows that it can undergo rather radical changes without the dire predictions often made by impossibilists. Oh, it also showed that there is indeed a legal difference between civil marriage and religious marriage (at least for the CofE) in the UK.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 1:05am BST

'Which might very well mean that there have been brides who walked down the aisle in possession of male genitalia'. Indeed, although, in terms of your own consistency, you referred previously and I responded to 'the validity and licitness of the marriages of post-operative transsexuals'. You now change tack to counter with a pre-operative scenario.

In respect of the definition of consistency, I meant that a registrar merely ensures that a couple intending to solemnise marriage are ostensibly recognisable as exhibiting opposite *gender* characteristics in agreement with their birth certificates. The person solemnising the marriage has no further obligation for scrutiny in respect of the actual biological sex of prospective marriage partners.

A same-sex couple might convincingly present themselves for marriage as an opposite sex couple. The marriage would be solemnised and treated as valid as long as the deception remained hidden. However, if it was later discovered that the couple were not of opposite sex, the marriage would be declared void.

You claim that impossibilists insisted that same-sex marriage changes 'would require the entire concept of marriage to be redefined'. Er, that's exactly what has happened. The bill proposes a two-track marriage dichotomy that redefines the entire concept of marriage as a single institution that establishes a shared conjugal identity that is the immediately conferable basis for a child's origin and identity.

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 8:32am BST

"A same-sex couple might convincingly present themselves for marriage as an opposite sex couple. The marriage would be solemnised and treated as valid as long as the deception remained hidden. However, if it was later discovered that the couple were not of opposite sex, the marriage would be declared void."

Don't Ask/Don't Tell, then? As if that wasn't a disgrace to the U.S. military for the almost 20 years it was law?

I'll be the first to argue that a successful marriage is ALWAYS a bridging of opposites. But to fetishize the chromosomal/ morphological *sex* and/or role-play of *gender* (as the be-all & end-all of "complementarity"), is more than a little bizarre.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 9:17am BST

"However, if it was later discovered that the couple were not of opposite sex, the marriage would be declared void"

Well, yes. That's the current legal situation.
It doesn't invalidate a word of what Bill said.

And we are talking about a change in legislation, after which whatever the new legislation describes will be marriage. And that will happen to include same sex couples, so marriages that would currently not be legal will soon be legal.

In the heads of some people they will be not real marriage, in the heads of others they will be an inferior hybrid, in the heads of yet others they will be one of three resulting types of marriages - all that is irrelevant because it all only happens in the heads of people.

In reality, whoever will get married within the framework of the new legislation will be married.
And that's all there is to it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 9:54am BST

I find Jung's notion, that each of us has a 'contrasexual other' within us, a useful one. And he came out with it quite early on and enabled good thinking to happen, and good lving- not only for analysands, but for many others in many fields of thought and endeavour.

Also Marie Maguire has done some good theorising from a more Freudian point of view.

Let alone the wisdom of 'ab/origianl' peoples with their riches of 'contrasexual' ideas in their mythologies and shamanistic pratices.

It enriched my life to be made more conscious of my rich femininity.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 12:36pm BST

Why do you keep engaging with that snide, arrogant Shepherd person? He's hopeless. Let the dead bury the dead, already!

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 5:06am BST

Erika:

I do wish you would read what Bill wrote before you respond. He claimed: 'Of course, depending on how we define man and woman, it could be argued that we already have (quite legal) man/man marriage, since chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype do not always match.'

His use of 'already' points to how he sees current law. Even if there is a disparity over gender definitions, the current law establishes the marriage of same *sex* partners as void. Talk all you want about the future, but I addressed Bill's assertion. Man/man marriage is not legal, but prove me wrong, if you can.

The law will prevent the automatic sharing of parental rights between partners via same-sex marriage. That's not just a cognitive dissonance in my head. That's how the bill is framed.

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 2:55pm BST

Interesting Observer:

"The CofE will be reduced to an ageing, dying group of hidebound reactionaries whose pronouncements on morality are ignored by everyone else. If, indeed, that hasn't already happened."

I think for most non-church-goers it already has.

"It is to the credit of liberals in the CofE that they have stayed and fought, but as the years go by, it will become progressively less credible to do so, and decent people will steadily leave for other, more just, organisations."

One feature of the C of E is that in some respects it is not a membership organisation. All of us who live in an English parish have legal rights and claims on it. I get little from most church services. Supporting the local parish church, however welcoming, is a long way down my list of priorities because they offer so little else. I'm prevented from holding any position of authority because I usually prefer not to publicly assent to beliefs I do not hold, but otherwise I'm baptised and confirmed and therefore 'a member' as would be understood in most other contexts. That leaves the C of E with a large number of us locked out of active involvement only by a current policy on theology that could change. It's the potential of this likely-majority of excluded 'members' that has so far kept me from giving up on the Church. Some further thoughts at http://modernchurchblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/lost-in-metaphor.html.

Posted by Dave Marshall at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 4:33pm BST

"Even if there is a disparity over gender definitions, the current law establishes the marriage of same *sex* partners as void. Talk all you want about the future, but I addressed Bill's assertion. Man/man marriage is not legal, but prove me wrong, if you can."

As I said, it depends on what definition of man you use.

As it happens, the marriage of people who receive gender recognition certificates has nothing to do with biological sex, and everything to do with legal gender.
According to the faq section of the gender recognition section of the Ministry of Justice http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/gender-recognition-panel/faqs :

"If you are successful in obtaining Gender Recognition, you will be legally recognised for all purposes in your acquired gender. As a result of your legal recognition, you will be able to marry someone of the opposite legal gender or to form a civil partnership with someone of the same gender."

Elsewhere on the same page, we find, "Surgery is not a prerequisite for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate."

So to review: 1. It is not necessary to undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to receive a gender recognition certificate. 2. Anyone who receives a gender recognition certificate has the legal right to marry someone of their opposite legal gender.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 17 April 2013 at 1:04am BST

"Marriage is restricted to those couples with the prima facie constitutive possibility of issue."

- David Shepherd -

If this statement were not so tragic, it would be laughed out of court. However, it is to such ignorance as this that many traditionalists hang their arguments against the understanding of marriage as the union of two persons "who love one another, and wish to share that love with each other for the rest of their lives" - (A.C.A.N.Z.P Marriage Service).

How does Mr. Shepherd account for the number of Marriages solemnised in English churches that cater for older or infirm couples, whose prospect of issue is non-existent? Also, the Church, to my knowledge, is not obliged to question prospective couples as to their capability of, or intention to participate in, the act of procreation.

I think Mr Shepherd needs to become acquainted with the Old Testament Book: the 'Song of Songs'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 19 April 2013 at 1:44am BST

Ron:

One might hope that you would recognise the meaning of prima facie, i.e. 'at first sight'. Neither age, nor infirmity provide prima facie evidence to a registrar that the couple is constituted in a manner that would make the possibility of issue, a fundamental marital contingency, meaningless.

Clearly, the common law principle enunciated by Blackstone is meaningless to you: 'A possibility of issue is always supposed to exist, in law, unless extinguished by the death of the parties; even though the donees be each of them an hundred years old.'

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 5:52pm BST

ED: Reply to Ron was posted earlier today. I didn't assume his question for me to be rhetorical.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 21 April 2013 at 10:09pm BST

I think it is well worth noting that Jesus's harshest words were for the Pharisee's for using the Law to exclude and demean people. The Shepherd arguments essentially boil down to that. And they are all arguments that were dispelled decades ago here.

Some people feel absolutely entitled to their prejudices and the sense of superiority and whatnot that that those irrational fears feed. Here's a story that illustrates precisely what is going on here:

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil---he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego.

The other is good ---he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win, Grandfather?"

The Elder simply replied, "The one you feed."

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 22 April 2013 at 5:48pm BST
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