Comments: Church of England issues Report stage briefing on Marriage bill

Basing policy on fears about anything's unforseen and uncertain consequences is hardly possible, especially as nobody can say what they might be. The unforseen and unsertain consequences that dare not speak their name, perhaps? Or, more kindly put perhaps, as Fathers Ted & Dougal wrote on their Cinema Placards "Down with this sort of thing. Careful, now!"

Posted by Alan Wilson at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 9:26am BST

How can the Parliamentary Unit speak for the whole Church of England? The part about how civil partnerships, by definition a separate and unequal institution, have worked is hypocritical. It would be better to warn same-sex couples that the institution in many respects does not want them in church so they can invest their time and money in more enlightened groups.

In any case, what does civil law have to do with religion? Each sect should be free to worship however they want but should have no right to prescribe civil law.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 9:50am BST

Hypocritical balderdash from C of E bishops - but after over 60 years of hearing stuff like this, I'm inured - virtually !

They did NOT and DO NOT support civil partnerships.

Why do ministers lie like this ?

Posted by Laurence at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 10:29am BST

I'm puzzled that they keep on about what they see as a problem about the position of teachers. I can't envisage a situation in which it would be appropriate for teachers to express in a classroom setting their personal disapproval of same sex marriage.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 10:30am BST

If the C of E thinks that this is 'an unwise way of promoting LGBT equality', I wonder if 'they' could suggest what wise ways they have in mind instead? I am yet to be persuaded that 'we' in the Church of England (and I count myself a member, just) have ever been properly consulted about this matter.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:39am BST

It would be most interesting if the Church of England were brave enough to run a referendum on this issue; inviting practising church-goers to subscribe to a poll on same-sex marriage. I suspect the Bishops might be surprised at the support that would be given to the government initiative.

It is a pity that, given the assurance by the promoters of the Bill that no Church Body of Minister will be compelled to marry a same-sex couple; that the Church of England categorically opposes the freedom of others to enter into a life-long monogamous partnership between two persons who 'Love one another' and desire to continue that love in a relationship recognised by both Church and society.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 12:21pm BST

Bishops to Government: 'But you see, there's only so much of this marriage thing to go around. If we give it to same-sex couples, we might run out.'

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 12:56pm BST

For the two people in the world who haven't seen it:

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 2:12pm BST

'The C of E' should be sending out - and even making videos like this (not boring out of date, mean 'reports' based on invincible ignorance and homophobia) :

Posted by Laurence at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 4:20pm BST

Does any one know if the Archbishop of Canterbury still supports civil partnerships for opposite sex couples or was that an example of cynical stirring we have become accustomed to from our moral betters?

Posted by Craig Nelson at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 8:02pm BST

Just so bored of these "official pronouncements"

Posted by Alastair Newman at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 8:12pm BST

I think he does not, witness this para on page 4 of the briefing note:

"At the time this formed part of our wider concerns about anomalies created by the proposals to legislate. We do not believe however that introducing opposite-sex civil partnerships by amendment to the Bill to remedy what is largely a conceptual anomaly is in the broader interests of strengthening marriage as an institution. For the avoidance of doubt, this view is endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury."

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 10:54pm BST

Since writing my previous comment, I have discovered that a press release was issued by the Church of England earlier this evening, on the subject of opposite-sex civil partnerships, which repeats the relevant section of the briefing paper. I have added the press release to this article.

However, what Maria Miller has said is that there will be a review of the issue in five years' time. It's not clear whether this press release is in response to that announcement.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:42pm BST

Here is the amendment Maria Miller has tabled
Review of civil partnership
Secretary Maria Miller
* To move the following Clause:—
‘(1) The Secretary of State must arrange—
(a) for the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in England and Wales to be reviewed, and
(b) for a report on the outcome of the review to be produced and published.
(2) Subsection (1) does not prevent the review from also dealing with other matters relating to civil partnership.
(3) The arrangements made by the Secretary of State must provide for the review to begin as soon as practicable after the end of the five year post-commencement period.
(4) The Secretary of State is not required by this section to arrange a review if, within the five year post-commencement period, the Secretary of State has already arranged a review which, in the Secretary of State’s view, deals with the same matters as the review required by this section.
(5) Arrangements under this section may provide for the Secretary of State or one or more other persons to undertake the review, produce the report, or publish the report.
(6) In this section “five year post-commencement period” means the period of five years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 17 May 2013 at 11:54pm BST

In case we Anglicans should get to feeling too superior to the Roman Catholics. {face-palm}

@Interested Observer: we shouldn't need atheists to point out the OBVIOUS.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 1:52am BST

This is so confusing. Wales is it's own country. But the English Parliament is voting on SSM for England and Wales. But Wales represented "international participation" in the nomination of the ABC. I think I'll pour a glass of wine!

I think those scribes at Church House, Westminster need to retire, immediately. Such nonsense! For the record, separate is inherently unequal.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 5:00am BST

The press release on civil partnerships for sex-discordant couples is stupid. It claims that not many sex-discordant couples would get civil partnerships if they could. In France, lots of straight couples have been choosing pactes civil de solidarité over civil marriage. The President of France was in a pacs with Ségolène Royal, for example. They were able to dissolve their union much more quickly than if they had been married.

Evidence seems not to matter for the writers for the C of E.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 8:03am BST

Cynthia, it's the British Parliament voting. England and Wales have the same legal system, law isn't devolved to Wales, so they have to be the same.

Scotland has a different legal system, which is devolved, although the British Parliament can make laws for it.

Although Scotland isn't affected by this legislation, there is no protocol whatsoever for restricting voting rights in the British Parliament, so Scottish and Welsh MPs will be voting on this legislation for England and Wales. Welcome to the joys of an unwritten constitution.

To be clear, there's no such animal as "the English Parliament" - there is a British government with MPs from all the 4 constituent parts, then individual governments for Scotland, Wales and NI. Laws affecting only England are voted on by everyone, this is not reciprocal.

Posted by Primroseleague at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 8:06am BST

Thank you, Promroseleague!

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 9:23pm BST

Dear Cynthia, you have stumbled on the bizarre complexities of the British constitution (non written). England and Wales forms one jurisdiction within the UK for most matters. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have devolution but different in each case. England has no devolution so is governed entirely by the UK Parliament. Wales has some law making capability but family law is not one of its competences. Family law is devolved fully to Scotland and Northern Ireland, so that will be left to their respective institutions. Ecclesiastically Wales is a different Anglican province - the Church of England covers only England.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 10:51pm BST

I do welcome the decision of the government to hold a review on the issue of civil partnerships. This is a sensible step. I think there are real social policy reasons to allow opposite sex civil partnerships. However, I feel it is sad there hasn't been much discussion amongst the group it affects - heterosexuals - as to whether it is needed.

I am against civil partnerships being removed for same sex couples while the following hold true:

a)some parts of the UK do not allow same sex couples to marry (e.g. Northern Ireland)
b)the Established Church recognises civil partnerships but not marriage
c)civil partnerships should only be withdrawn if there is a cross UK agreement to do so.

Although I support opposite sex civil partnerships I am not swayed by the argument that not doing so is in some way discriminatory against heterosexuals. There is a very strong legacy of discrimination against LGBT people in terms of exposure to bullying, violence, discrimination and will continue to be deprived of the ability to marry (or CP) within the Established church. Oh and future school children not yet born are to be subjected to the indignity of having Christian school teachers expose them to their bigotry - before being taught by Christians putting their own 'conscience' ahead of their commitment to children's wellbeing, children will start to ask themselves about their own identity at the same time as being taught they are less deserving than others.

So no, I'm not worried about heterosexuals being 'discriminated against'. While the likes of George Carey are around discrimination against LGBT people lives on secure and will leave deep traces in our country for decades to come.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 11:21pm BST

Craig said
b) the Established Church recognises civil partnerships but not marriage

What does "recognise" mean here?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 18 May 2013 at 11:43pm BST

Dear Simon,

Very good question which I can't totally answer because the Church of England deliberately engenders a certain confusion on its attitude to civil partnerships. On the one hand they think that Civil Partnerships are wonderful things (that they have always supported), at other times treating them as if they're radioactive.

Still the C of E says gay people should enter into civil partnerships and not marriage and to that extent 'recognises' them. It is a limited form of recognition, to be sure.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Sunday, 19 May 2013 at 12:12am BST

Watching the debate, I couldn't help noticing that the proposition by certain opponents of the Bill - that heterosexual couples should be allowed to take up Civil Partnerships - seemed somewhat cynical. It seems that opponents will do almost anything to delay the implementation of Same-Sex Marriage, and if advocating C.P. for straight people will help to delay things - they're all for it.

Surely, the ultimate objective of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill is that every eligible couple should have equal rights to be married, and to access the civil rights attaining thereto. the C.P. issue is clearly a red herring here.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 19 May 2013 at 9:41am BST
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