Comments: Marriage Bill: House of Lords moves to committee stage

In a rather hilarious hermeneutic the bishops 'stand down' statement really was written as a 'fight on' statement.

Nothing at this stage would surprise me. In any case there will be some tidying up of wording on a few clauses which is all to the good, there will be freedom of expression clauses - again all good stuff but I think fundamental challenges to the bill (shall we say 'wrecking amendments'?) will not fare very well.

More than that there is the potential for the bishops to register vote after vote after vote against the bill as if voting for the Dear amendment were not sufficient.

When in a hole - stop digging.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 12:43am BST

The Church of England Briefing Note makes for sickening reading. The aggressive homophobia of the Church's positions is, at this point, militant irrelevancy. Now that many of us are out of the closet, it is time for the bishops to get into the closets and lock the doors. We do not need to hear from them again. Imagine a hierarchy determined to enlarge the "freedom" of public servants to refuse legal services to LGBTI persons and families. Consider that the bishops are lobbying for the secure freedom of Church school teachers to insult and humiliate LGBTI children and youth by teaching clearly that they are outside God's provision for loving couples and families because to act on their love is grievously sinful and not nearly as good as Brittany Spears getting drunk and being married by an Elvis impersonator. And Church school teachers must be able to teach children of gay couples that their parents' marriages are not really marriages at all.

The bishops present themselves as persons motivated by a deep concern for the public good. In the interest of the public good, it seems to me, that the so-called Lords Spiritual be removed from the House of Lords as soon as possible, in the first major step towards the reform of the House.

Their Briefing Note is deeply offensive. Let's be done with these people.

Posted by Karen MacQueen+ at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 5:09am BST

The reason why boxing matches are often ended by one contestant's trainer "throwing in the towel" is that, in the heat of the battle, the boxers themselves are unable to see that their position is hopeless, and it is the trainers' responsibility to prevent any more harm coming to them.

Anglican Mainstream are the voice in the boxer's head, telling them that if they can just survive this round and get to the bell, then in the next round they'll be able to deliver the knockout blow, just wait at see.

The SSM debate is over. All of the non-issues which are being brought up are being argue in bad faith, as attempts to attack the general principle rather than the specific concerns. Consummation is about annulment, which is not relevant to secular marriages and the sort of people who would worry about the distinction between annulment and divorce won't be getting ssm in the first place. Adultery is wrapped up in unreasonable behaviour and the courts will make case law if relevant. The teacher argument presumes that teachers are entitled to use their profession as a pulpit. The registrar argument is bizarre, as registrars are not mini-vicars, have always had to perform "invalid" weddings (of divorcees, for example) and if they are as Christian as they make out, surely all the weddings they perform are invalid as they lack God? No-one outside the evangelical hardcore takes the arguments about either procreation or complementarity seriously, either.

Aside from "ugh! queers! in plain view!", which for all the talk about "profund and deep objections" was about the sum total of the Lords' objections, there is little more left to say. There will be no more concessions, no matter how much feet stamping happens, because the government can see that the opponents just don't have the votes or the moral authority to cause significant problems. If the Lords were, suicidally, to delay the passage of the bill until a general election, the next government will pass the bill immediately, using the Parliament Act. It will then exact a hideous revenge, in which Welby, and the rest of the CofE, will find the doors of government completely barred.

That briefing note starts "The Church of England cannot support the Bill". Well, a lot of the CofE do. In ten years' time, rather more of the CofE will. This is a suicidal battle, where there can be only winner, and the issue is not the outcome, rather how much punishment the loser takes. Someone needs to tell the CofE to throw in the towel, because otherwise they're going to find they're permanently damaged by the last few rounds of the bout.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 6:40am BST

And I see that George Carey is now proposing a separate register for straight couples (traditional marriage). Words fail.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 9:15am BST

CofE schools already tell the children of gay parents all sorts of horrible stuff. If you ask me you are crazy to send your child to one as a gay parent but people in rural areas don't always have a choice.

I know several people who have been told that the school doesn't recognize them as parents and that only one of them would be able pick them up and go to parents evenings if they took up a place at the school.

I know another couple whose children are attending a CofE school and they thought they were doing well. Then they found out that the local vicar (a governor) was having special meetings with them, which they found odd but did nothing about.

Then the children asked to be baptized, despite reservations they asked the vicar. He told them they couldn't be baptized because he did not recognize their family and that they weren't allowed to ask any other priests as he would block it (obviously lies).

Personally I think the last couple were too laid back and should have taken a stronger hand in watching out for their children, but this is the kind of stuff that happens in our state education system. Much of it is probably already illegal, but it goes on and people either go to another school (admissions stage) or put up with it.

Posted by CRW at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 9:21am BST

Someone needs to tell the CofE to throw in the towel, because otherwise they're going to find they're permanently damaged by the last few rounds of the bout.
No one can tell them to stop as long as their eyes and hearts are open to the lobby of Anglican Mainstream group.
We have a saying in Africa that those whom the gods wants to destroy they first make them mad.

Posted by Davis Mac-Iyalla at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 9:44am BST

Cripes! Talk about clinging to the wreckage. I wish they would stop talking about 'The C of E' as if we were all of one mind on these matters. I found the Q & A section of the Bishops Briefing particularly diverting. They were the sort of 'answers' you might expect when only one side is setting the questions!

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 10:12am BST

Interested Observer what do you make of the amendment of Lord Singh and others that a referendum should be taken AFTER the Bill has been debated/passed by Parliament? Do they mean BEFORE the Royal Assent or before Commencement, or what? Surely a referendum (rarely used in our constitution) is taken PRIOR to some parliamentary action being taken, such as the In/Out referendum. (Whatever the polling figures would an Out result actually legally bind anyone to do anything? - we do not have binding propositions put to the electorate as they do in the States). I can only think Singh's is a clumsy tactic is to try to get this passed so it goes back to the Commons to be removed, thus initiating a game of ping-pong, putting off the moment when it is finally passed into law.....

Posted by Tom at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 10:15am BST

Singh has been revealed as having very unpleasant views and tactics.

I shan't listen to his Thought for the Day, again.

He feels he may dictate to those born in the Uk; and who have had a long way to shake off Church strictures - if thinks we are going to tolerate Sikh strictures instead - think again me lord !

Posted by Laurence at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 3:54pm BST

Are there any reliable statistics on what percentage of LGBT people actually want what is being called 'marriage equality? I have seen a number of stories recently that speak of real resistance to the idea from those for whom it is purported to be desired. That marriage ceremonies for Gays are embarrassing efforts to imitate; that children are not a right but have rights (the French phrase fails me just now); that LBGT ought to go their own way on this matter. Does anyone have any data?

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 4:11pm BST

"what do you make of the amendment of Lord Singh and others that a referendum should be taken"

As you say, it's being done in bad faith. It's effectively a wrecking amendment, and will be seen as such by the vast majority of peers.

There is absolutely no way that any government, of any stripe, would accept the premise that there should be a referendum over a simple piece of legislation. It would be a precedent that could then be used, endlessly, by malcontents, and would paralyse the country politically.

There is, in the absence of anything better, a reasonable argument that referendums should be used for major constitutional changes; outside the fevered imagination of obsessives, this is not even a minor constitutional change.

I suppose it might not be bad faith. In which case, as witnessed by the shattered bodies of the "progressive majority", crawling from the wreckage of the AV referendum, it's as well to make sure you have a rough idea of what the outcome will be before you get a referendum set up. On current polling, SSM would pass by a landslide anyway. The CofE may be happy to look like opponents of miscegenation, but most people in 2013 have friends, relatives and colleagues who are gay, and will think of them as they cast their votes.

Davis is right, in part. This is partly about Anglican "Mainstream" (an organisation whose membership can fit in the back of a taxi with room for a suitcase as well). But Davis alludes to Africa, and of course that is what the CofE is really doing. It's the racism of low expectations.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 7:32pm BST


More than 9 in 10 gay people when polled by you gov want it.

Public gay figures who play the uncle Tom and try to stop the rest of us having it, like Rupert Everett, are generally reviled in the gay community.

Posted by CRW at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 7:50pm BST

Dr. Seitz; there is this from the recent Pew Survey:

"On the topic of same-sex marriage, not surprisingly, there is a large gap between the views of the general public and those of LGBT adults. Even though a record 51% of the public now favors allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, up from 32% in 2003, that share is still far below the 93% of LGBT adults who favor same-sex marriage."

There are, of course some LGBT people who do not want "marriage equality" -- just as there are a number of heterosexual people who do not want to marry, or are unable to sustain their marriages. Is that as much as 7%? I think that quite likely.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 8:42pm BST

Cseitz, I'm not sure anyone has done a study. I'm gay and I want equality. So does every single gay person whom I know, here and from numerous countries. Please do not try to speak for us. Every LGBT organization I know of in both the USA and UK is working for EQUALITY. (Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, et al., please speak up.) There is not one that I know of working towards a "different" solution.

Those of us who are active Christians yearn (from sacramental churches) yearn for the Sacrament of Marriage, for the same reasons as straight couples.

It is offensive and insulting when conservative straights try to speak for us. So please, please, don't.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 9:06pm BST

"Children are not a right but have rights"

This is of course a major homophobic slogan of the French anti-gay movement. Of course children have rights and the well being of children is of the paramount importance. Yes children can be taken away from their parents because they are in danger or are not being looked after properly but until that threshold is reached the State has a certain reserve before the family. Heterosexuals form families (sometimes through adoption or medical assistance); likewise gay people form families through adoption and assisted conception.

In the case of adoption of course there is a very rigorous process for both same and opposite sex couples (and single people).

One may say there is no right to have a child - this is clearly correct; but equally the refusal to have a child can only be founded on child welfare grounds.

One may also say that if children have rights one of those rights is to have their parents allowed to be married - stigma against same sex couples is often visited upon the children of same sex couples, especially if they are not allowed to have legal recognition of both parents.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Friday, 14 June 2013 at 11:53pm BST

"what percentage of LGBT people actually want what is being called 'marriage equality?"

My goodness, cseitz: speaking of towel-throwing! O_o

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 1:51am BST

Thanks for the (limited) data re: US and UK. The world is a big place of course.

Mr Nelson. The phrase is widely used in France by LGBT folk. Indeed they originated it.

I can understand the sympathies of Gay people who see marriage ceremonies as embarrassing imitation.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 7:10am BST

There's no one ceremony one can have a simple civil ceremony if one wants or indeed, if one doesn't wish to be married, one can have a civil partnership without a ceremony. Maybe there are heterosexuals who dislike the ceremony and for that reason would like access to civil partnerships.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:24am BST

"I can understand the sympathies of Gay people who see marriage ceremonies as embarrassing imitation."

If marriage is viewed as merely a ceremony then I can't see why anyone would bother. Make the civil arrangement and have a party. Done.

Many Christian LGBT couples, however, want the Sacrament of Marriage, and that comes with a LITURGY not a ceremony!

And, of course, the vast majority or us want EQUALITY under the law for us and our families. Thus equal marriage.

I hope that makes the whole marriage concept clearer.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 9:31pm BST

"the majority of us want EQUALITY under the law for us" -- apparently not. That is the point of Gays opposed to 'equal marriage', namely, that CP is about 'equality under the law'. 'Marriage' they believe is something else, that does not pertain to same-sex couples. You may disagree with them, but they find 'EQUALITY under the law' as what a CP is all about.

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 4:23pm BST

Dr Seitz
Could you please give a reference for *England and Wales* or at least for the UK, as evidence that "Gays opposed to equal marriage" are a *majority*. Of course, there are some who espouse that position, but why do you claim it is a majority? I say for England, because this is a thread about the House of Lords, and the current bill before the Westminster Parliament.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 6:04pm BST

The quote is from the previous note (Cynthia).

Those Gays who oppose 'marriage equality' do not do so because they cannot have equality under the law. They can.

I thought the point was clear. No one said they were a majority (at least not in the countries mentioned).

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 6:22pm BST

"Could you please give a reference for *England and Wales* "

I'd like to see the evidence for anywhere. I have never met a gay person, on 2 continents in 3 languages for me, who didn't want equality. I can easily imagine a weird fringe, every group has it. There are some. a few, African Americans who believe that separate was better, for example.

But in this case, with the decision before Parliament, it would be particularly interesting to see which groups are lobbying for which position. So I'd love to know the LGBT groups lobbying for equality, and any lobbying against.

Thank you in advance for anyone who has that info.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 7:58pm BST

"Those Gays who oppose 'marriage equality' do not do so because they cannot have equality under the law. They can."

I'm so confused. I've heard that in the UK, that Civil Partnerships and Marriage are NOT equal. Thus the brouhaha. Please clarify.

Where exactly can we get equality under the law? Please tell me. My partner and I spent $1600 at an attorney doing the best we can in terms of Wills, Powers of Attorney, etc. But that doesn't give all the rights of marriage. Last month, here in Colorado, we got Civil Unioned (what a word, I'm looking for a romantic song for that institution....) last month. And that gives us most of the rights within the state, but not at the Federal level, which is highly significant for social security, taxes, immigration, etc.

By all means, please tell me where we get equal rights and we'll look for jobs there.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 3:43am BST

As you have asked:

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 6:28am BST

This may surprise cseitz but homosexuals do not coordinate with one another as some sort of unified thought army. As with all things there is not uniformity. Equally not all heterosexuals support marriage. The law being debated isn't going to take people and forcibly marry them against their wishes. There are a number of heterosexual couples who do not marry just as there will be gay couples who choose not to marry.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 8:13am BST

there is virtually 100% equality in law for gay couples. There are still some pension rights to be sorted out, which could be done under the civil partnership scheme if necessary.

But the real inequality lies in the fact that CPs aren't portable. Countries that have marriage equality do not recognise our CPs as marriages, and as these countries do not have CP arrangements, they do not accept the Civil Partnership either. So if we traveled to Canada or Spain or France etc. we would no longer be each other's next of kin, for example.
This problem becomes more acute as more and more countries adopt marriage equality.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 10:37am BST

As for "do gay people want marriage equality" - 85% of civil partnered couples who participated in the Government consultation phase of the Bill said they would convert their CPs into marriage certificates.

So of those people who do want to make formal commitments the vast majority wants marriage. At least in the UK. And the UK is the topic of this thread, isn't it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 10:41am BST

That certainly is closer to the reality of the situation than '97% say X' or 'I've never met anyone who disagreed' type of view. My assumption is that there is nothing like the uniformity on this issue than one would otherwise conclude from reading comments here. The BBC magazine piece makes that clear. We find there the view that 'equality' for some Gays means something other than marriage.

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 11:06am BST

there are individuals who prefer not to get married.
There is no single lgbt lobby group actively lobbying against other gay couples having the option to get married should they want to.
At least not to my knowledge.

There are gay and straight people who, IN ADDITION to marriage equality, would like civil partnerships to be open to everyone.
These people would like the financial and legal security of a recognised relationship but they do not want the "baggage" of patriarchal marriage.
I would assume that a lot of the straights in this group currently cohabitate but that they would get civil partnered if they could.

These people are not lobbying AGAINST marriage in any form, they are lobbying FOR civil partnerships.
That is an important difference.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 12:23pm BST

"That is an important difference."

Thank you for the clarification, Erika. I certainly know a ton of straight couples who have no interest in marriage.

I seriously doubted that there was any LGBT group lobbying against equality, but someone asked.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 6:52pm BST

I think, cseitz, that the conclusion by the BBC was spot on: With so many different points of view on a subject that has long divided America, perhaps the debate just underlines the obvious - gay people are like everyone else.

The view points expressed in the BBC article are definitely upper middle class. The perspective of both couples financially independent from the other. And likely childless. Not likely the perspective of those who have married their fortunes together, and sacrificed jobs and income to be together.

One can never dismiss class and/or economic positioning in these things.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 4:20am BST

As a gay man, I feel that conservatism is an embarrassing imitation of Christianity. Let's do something about that, first.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 5:43am BST
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