Thinking Anglicans

Reactions to Dr Sentamu's response on Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Updated Friday

The original article was reported here.

A shorter version was published by the Guardian as Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would benefit nobody.

Both of those contain a number of reader comments. In addition:

The Guardian published a number of letters on the topic on Monday under the headline Sentamu’s flaws over gay marriage. Authors include Richard Harries, Mark Oakley and Iain McLean.

From Richard Harries:

The archbishop of York wants to keep marriage as a separate category but regards civil partnerships as an honourable expression of a committed relationship; that marriage and civil partnerships are in fact complementary, equal but different (Not equality but justice, 18 May). He pleads for time for civil partnerships to gain greater public understanding.

The great flaw in his argument is that he does not urge the church to bless such partnerships. This would do more than anything to obtain that greater public understanding he says he wants. Now that the government appears to have dropped its idea of legalising gay marriages, it is a chance for the Church of England to make amends for the reluctance with which it accepted civil partnerships in the first place, and to take the lead in declaring unequivocally that such committed relationships are to be warmly celebrated before God.

Richard Harries
Crossbench, House of Lords

Cif Belief has published an article by Iain McLean John Sentamu’s claims on civil partnerships are false.

John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, recently posted a long statement explaining his opposition to same-sex marriage. Some of it appeared in the Guardian and on Comment is Free. In it he referenced an interview he recently gave to the Daily Telegraph, which contains the following statement: “We [the bishops in the House of Lords] supported civil partnerships, because we believe that friendships are good for everybody.”

Like other religious opponents of same-sex marriage, he goes on to argue that civil partnership is “in every respect in ethical terms an honourable contract of a committed relationship”. Same-sex couples, he therefore says, should not press for marriage.

But his factual claim is false. The main Lords debate on the civil partnership bill took place in June 2004. Richard Harries, then bishop of Oxford, did indeed signal Church of England support for civil partnerships. But his efforts were contradicted by the five conservative bishops who spoke on the other side. Going by the bishops’ contributions to debate, the score is 5/3 against. Going by the bishops’ votes, it is 6/1 against. Six bishops voted for a successful wrecking amendment in the name of Lady O’Cathain, which made the bill unworkable. Only the Commons’ insistence on rejecting the O’Cathain amendment made it possible to enact civil partnerships…

Update
The Church Times has this report by Ed Thornton Dr Sentamu challenged over his views on gay marriages.

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malcolm macnaughtonMarkBrunsonCounterlightDavid ShepherdMary Marriott Recent comment authors
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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Can I ask about Richard Harries’ comment that the Government seems to have dropped its idea of legalising gay marriage? I thought the proposal is still in its consultation phase and could therefore not have been included this year’s Queen’s Speech – which is what most people seem to hang their belief on that the proposal has been dropped. The question is what will happen after the consultation phase and David Cameron answered pre-Queen Speech suggestions that the proposal would be kicked into the long grass with an affirmation of his plans to legalise gay marriage. Can anyone confirm or… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

In response to Erika. They haven’t said it has been dropped ad they are still consulting on it. However there was a front page article in the Sunday Times following heavy government losses in council seats that it had been dropped. The story obviously came from a reliable source or the Sunday Times would not have lead with the story. In ,response no minister apart from Lynn Featherstone has denied it, and on her own blog, not a government website (she’s evidently ‘keeping hope alive’ – which you have to admire). People outside the govt are going around saying it’s… Read more »

badman
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badman

Another error in the Sentamu analysis is his suggestion (also made by other opponents of equal marriage) that, if equal marriage is not forced on religious celebrants, this creates “two kinds of marriage” which would be different from “hitherto”. In fact, however, there would only be two different kinds of marriage *ceremony* (only opposite sex couples being allowed a marriage ceremony in church, just as divorcees were formerly excluded), there would not be two kinds of *marriage* (the relationship of marriage being the same whether formalised in a civil ceremony or in church). This variety of ceremony, but with only… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

It’s very confused, Erica. There was at least one journalist claiming the day after the local elections a someone at No 10 was briefing that gay marriage was a dead duck, at least pro tem. Yet last week I was holding forth on the legal complexities as part of the government road-show here in Cardiff and the civil servants (middle rank) were saying that the No 10 briefing was a rogue commentator (or never happened!) and that, quite the contrary the government were determined to see this IN PLACE by 2014! Robert Ian Williams has an interesting take on the… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Interesting to read badman’s refernce from the 1973 working party report. In my talk on the various possibilities the government had in legislating for same-sex marriage I was tossing around some ideas (mostly belonging to other very well qualified people!) when the civil servant intervened and said quite plainly: “We will have a new Marriage Act.” Very much not a consolidation then, but a total reform. So all those wondering how the government are going to frame legislation that will deal with the sexual niceties will be disappointed. this government plans to reinvent the wheel – or NOT – depending… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

According to the Bible, the Israelites wandered around the Sinai desert for 40 years, waiting for the generation which left Egypt to die off so that their life experience, and subsequent mental attitudes, would no longer be the norm when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. As much as I would like to see civil same-sex marriage soon, I’ve seen too much water under the bridge, and I believe it will not happen on a widespread scale — certainly within the USA, in my pessimistic opinion — until after the generation I’m part of is long dead, and I lie… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

Just as I always suspected, Martin. Everyone from the comments section of Thinking Anglicans is secretly meeting down the pub for a drink, and I’m not invited!

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would benefit nobody.”

To Sentamu, same-sex couples who want to get married = “nobody”.

Not feelin’ da Christian love, m’Lord.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

It’s the economy, stupid. Gay marriage was a fig leaf used by the Tory right to cover the unpopularity of the government’s economic strategy manifested in the local elections results. All governments get a kicking by the electorate mid-term. The PM is just biding his time and concentrating on getting us out of recession. He also needs the support of his right-wing flank in the Commons as much as he does the Lib Dems. Governments can multi-task, and the consultation will continue unabated. Sure as eggs is eggs, gay marriage will be back on the agenda in a couple of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The biggest surprise to me in all of this, is that Abp. Sentamu has actually conceded the fact that Same-Sex relationships can actually be a good thing – not only for the monogamous, faithful Same-sex partners, but for society at large. That’s got to be an improvement on his former anti-Gay stance.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

rjb, but we wouldn’t have wanted to hurt you:
“we believe that friendships are good for everybody.” It’s just there are some lines we don’t want to cross!
You understand, I’m sure ………

David Shepherd
Guest

‘The great flaw in his argument is that he does not urge the church to bless such partnerships’

The great flaw in Richard Harries’ argument is that civil partnerships should be an ‘honourable expression of a committed relationship’, but fail miserably. They’ve been crafted by those who decry marriage exclusion to exclude siblings who have cared for each other in their dotage. Why bless that?

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Interesting to read on other blogs the discussions about whether ‘consummation’ (what ever that means) is necessary for same sex marriages and how that can be proved. I do wonder about the obsession with other people’s sexual activity displayed by those against same sex marriage.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

David Shepherd, much of what you write is not easy to comprehend. The post on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 1:01pm BST I find even more inscrutable than usual, I wonder if I might prevail on you to elucidate?

I think you are saying that civil partnerships fail miserably to express a committed relationship and that this failure was made manifest by the failure of the O’Cathain amendment. Have I read you correctly?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“They’ve been crafted by those who decry marriage exclusion to exclude siblings who have cared for each other in their dotage.”

Your point is that homosexual relationships are no more absurd and perverse than incest: is that it, DavidS?

If this is some sort of disputational strategy, I can only give the words of wisdom: if stuck at the bottom of a hole, stop digging!

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

After the home secretary has tweeted her support as well as support from the PM’s PPS and the indication of a free vote I might have to retract my earlier cynicism and conclude it’s all on again…

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I do wonder about the obsession with other people’s sexual activity displayed by those against same sex marriage.

What is there to wonder about Richard? Seems rather obvious to me.

Mary Marriott
Guest
Mary Marriott
David Shepherd
Guest

JCF:

Your typically incendiary comments, I don’t see a committed platonic love between two old widowed siblings as incest, so why not make civil partnership more inclusive?

Come on, peeps! Let the whole wide world feel da love!

Counterlight
Guest

“Come on, peeps! Let the whole wide world feel da love!”

I’m just not feeling it from you.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Counterlight, what doesn’t exist is not tangible.

malcolm macnaughton
Guest
malcolm macnaughton

The claims made by Professor McLean disregard the behaviour of the Lords Spiritual at the decisive final Lords vote on the Civil Partnerships Bill. The record clearly indicates support from the bishops for the legislation. The voting to which Professor McLean refers relates to six bishops’ support for Baroness O Cathain’s amendment at the Report Stage. They agreed with her at that stage that the provision of Civil Partnerships should be available to siblings and cohabiting mixed sex couples. The then Bishop of Worcester voted against this amendment, which was passed in the Lords but then overturned in the Commons.… Read more »