Thinking Anglicans

Civil partnerships in churches: legal analysis

Will churches really be sued for not allowing civil partnerships? is the title of an excellent, detailed analysis by Matthew Flinn at the UK Human Rights Blog.

Matthew provides a detailed explanation of the wording of all the relevant sections of the applicable statutes and regulations, with links to the text. I may reproduce some of that detail in a later article here.

He then goes on to discuss whether or not there is any risk of a successful discrimination claim being brought against anyone for refusing to make religious premises available for such an event. His conclusion:

In the round, the concerns of religious institutions that the changes will, in themselves, require them to facilitate civil partnerships are probably unfounded. Although this is certainly not the only question posed by the changes; there are other dilemmas which may arise pursuant to the operation of ecclesiastical law. For example, the Church of England, which has made clear it will forbid its churches to be used to facilitate civil partnerships, may face difficulties in preventing rectors who have freehold title to parish property for using their premises for that purpose, and there may be issues in disciplining a clergyman who invites a civil registrar onto his premises to conduct a civil partnership ceremony.

And he ends by saying:

…In the meantime, it is possible that some religious institutions are really more worried about the ever closer prospect of full marriage equality for homosexuals, than of the risk of being sued.

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JCF
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JCF

“…In the meantime, it is possible that some religious institutions are really more worried about the ever closer prospect of full marriage equality for homosexuals, than of the risk of being sued.”

Well, Duh!

[It’s like they say about Puritans “…who live in deathly fear that somebody, somewhere, may be {Horrors!} Happy.”]

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

God is (still) calling the Church of England to embrace its lesbian + gay parishners + worshippers.

john
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john

Laurence,

As you well know, there are many, many churches within the C of E which do so embrace. I am proud to go to one of them.

John.

Father Ron Smith
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All those ‘Christians’ who are fearful ought to really take note of the Scriptures that they profess to love, which give us this assurance:
“Perfect Love casts out Fear”. Therefore, if the Church teachees that Love is paramount in our relationship one to another, then the fear would evaporate.

Danielle
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Danielle

Love does not equal unconditional acceptance. It is entirely possible to have love for someone and not accept everything they do. God makes it clear that He loves us all but He does not accept us living our lives in a way that goes against His Word. If marriage has everything to do with love and nothing at all to do with gender, why does God waste his time pointing out “man and woman” not only once but on several occasions throughout the Bible? Why did He not just make general statements about love between consenting individuals? On a subject… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

My concern is the “spin” and outright lies the RCC and certain newspapers are willing to broadcast in their attempt to attack gay families and defend their historic and traditional right to publicly denigrate us. The RCC were effective in raising fear over gay fostering and adoption by waving a “Holy Family – every child deserves a mummy and daddy” flag despite the fact their own services served single people. It was deplorable, listening to their spokesmen saying that families without husband and wife parents were, at best, second rate – including families they had helped establish! Now we can… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

It was the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement alone who were pressing against all – including the secular Stonewall and their allies – in the House of Lords as the Bill was debated. At that stage the Quakers had not come to a common mind and others were keeping their heads down. We had some small success and the Bishop of Oxford’s speech captures the moment well: “Those clauses would statutorily prevent registration taking place in any premises designed or mainly used for religious purposes or, in Scotland, regarded as a “place of reverence”. That is unsatisfactory for two reasons.… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

This post raises some interesting questions. One is that the primary issue of concern is not about supposed coercion but of internal discipline because the Cof E believes it will not be able to prevent individual clergy and parishes from providing such ceremonies. Internal discipline is however a matter for the church itself not the state. As to litigation itself the Equality Act explicitly exempts churches both in terms of goods and services and in terms of ‘religious civil partnerships’. Any claim under the ECHR would, even if found to have some basis under discrimination as a public body, have… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“why does God waste his time pointing out “man and woman” not only once but on several occasions throughout the Bible? Why did He not just make general statements about love between consenting individuals?” Come now, Danielle. Surely your faith can’t be so naive as to believe everything “God…points out” has NOTHING to do w/ the patriarchal culture of Ancient Israel? “Consenting individuals”?? Hello?! The ancient world knew NO such concepts! It was a world of Divine Right of Kings/Pharoahs/Emperors, and *slavery*. Women had ZERO “consent” in marriage. The Holy Spirit has led us BEYOND the world the Bible was… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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“If marriage has everything to do with love and nothing at all to do with gender, why does God waste his time pointing out “man and woman” not only once but on several occasions throughout the Bible?” – Danielle, on Friday – That’s the problem with biblical fundamentalism. To believe that God dictated every word of the Bible through the modern process of the teleprinter or computer is to betray an abysmal misunderstanding of what the scriptures are really all about. Until Christians begin to realise that the Bible is a guide-book and not the equivalent of the RC Papal… Read more »

Danielle
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Danielle

God has limitless foresight and wisdom, it is not bound by time like ours is, therefore He must have always known of homosexual love even if the people of that time didn’t. The Ancient World also could not fathom the concept of Jesus Christ being the Son of God but that did not stop God from sending Him. If God had to wait on us to understand everything before He carried out His plans, nothing would get done. Therefore if homosexual unions were looked upon favourably by God, even if it wasn’t pointed out in the Old Testament, it should… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Laurence, As you well know, there are many, many churches within the C of E which do so embrace. I am proud to go to one of them. John. Posted by: john on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 9 Though that is lovely John, it is not enough is it ! The lovely gay atmosphere of anglo-catholic churches isnt quite enough to suffice ! The General Synod, the bishops, the law need to embody that embrace to lgbt people. Need to embrace + reflect that God loves -or as you put it embraces us all. Those of us who have… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

The Bible is more of a collage really.

Nat
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Nat

Danielle, it might be worth pointing out that the Bible also says that women should be silent, and be instructed by their husbands.

Danielle
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Danielle

Father Ron Smith – the problem with Christian Liberals is that they use the Bible like a Self-Help Pick ‘n’ Mix – its only purpose to affirm the things we are doing right, but never to condemn what we are doing wrong. Christianity is more than just “Jesus loves me”, it’s also about personal sacrifice and sometimes it even requires us to give up the one thing we desire most in order to put God first in our lives. Christians are also to use the Bible as a weapon to fight against the principalities and powers of this world. How… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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Women are *not* to teach men, Danielle. You females are simply property, as the story of Jacob and Laban shows us.

Don’t blame me. God said it!

Right?

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Therefore if homosexual unions were looked upon favourably by God, even if it wasn’t pointed out in the Old Testament, it should have been mentioned in the New Testament where even divorce is said to be permitted in certain instances – something that God had previously never allowed because of His hatred for it.” When someone claiming Biblical literalism gets something as basic as this completely backwards, well, I figure they don’t know what they’re talking about. The Old Testament quite explicitly allows for divorce (although only initiated by the male side of the equation); in the New Testament, Jesus… Read more »

Danielle
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Danielle

I purposely didn’t come on here saying homosexuality is wrong. I pointed out what I have read about marriage, an important topic in the Bible, and I asked where it says homosexual unions are something we should engage in and I find it interesting that no one has been able to give me an answer. You’re going on to other topics, presumably to avoid answering the question. In response to your statements regarding the relationship between a husband and wife, the New Testament actually affirms that a wife is to submit to her husband. Ephesians 5: 23-24 says, ‘For the… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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This thread appears to have been hijacked for the purpose of debating moral theology. The article is about the UK civil law on civil partnerships. All further comments must be related to the latter subject.