Thinking Anglicans

What's in A Name? A report on Equal Marriage

The Policy Exchange think tank has published a report entitled What’s In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage?

The synopsis reads:

The Government’s proposals to introduce civil marriage for same-sex couples have provoked controversy and a wide-scale debate. The public consultation, which concluded in June sparked more responses than almost any other Government consultation. The debate has, in many ways, been more diverse, impassioned and wide-ranging than previous debates around ‘gay rights’. In particular, a ‘conservative case’ in favour of reform has emerged.

Supporters of equal marriage suggest that allowing same-sex people to marry would be an important act to ensure that gay and lesbian people have equal rights under the law. It’s also suggested that marriage is a beneficial institution, encouraging commitment and stability and that these benefits should not be denied to gay people, with some suggesting that marriage could be particularly beneficial to gay people.

Opponents argue that the change would redefine the nature of marriage and weaken the institution as a whole. They also argue that it could lead to a ‘slippery slope’ that could see the likes of polygamous marriage legalised at some point in the future. Concerns have also been expressed by opponents that the changes could be detrimental to religious freedom.

This report adopts an evidence-based analysis of the arguments around marriage equality to consider whether there is a compelling argument to reform the law. It pursues a reasoned analysis of the equal marriage concept and its practical implications and evaluates the arguments on both sides of the divide. It also explores the experience of other countries where marriage equality is already a reality.

The report can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

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Erika BakerMarkBrunsonFather Ron SmithRevDaveRosemary Hannah Recent comment authors
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Father Ron Smith
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This is not just a religious controversy. People of no faith at all, as well as members of religious organisations are involved in this important discussion. In a non-theocratic democracy, the Church has no prior rights over anyone else in matters of public policy which affects not only Christians but the whole of society. The Government has responsibility for every single citizen, and should be encouraged to legislate for relationships that enhance society’s expectation of peace and harmony for all, and the good of all. If that means that the legitimisation of Same-Sex Marriage could be seen to enhance their… Read more »

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

This is interesting less for what it says than for who is saying it. On what it says, it is confused on some points (e.g., the Quaker/Jewish exemption from requirement to be married in C of E churches dates back to 1753, not to C19 as the pamphlet claims), and it could make some arguments with more force (e.g., on the emptiness of “complementarity” as an objection to equal marriage, see the submission to the Govt Equalities Office from Scot Peterson, myself, and others, linked from here a few weeks back). But on who is saying it: this is a… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

‘The history of marriage is clearly not one of rigidity. Instead, it has gradually evolved over recent centuries. Notably, the State has intervened on a number of occasions to subtly alter the nature of marriage’ Wrong. The evolving modes of entry and exit from marriage by civil and religious means do not alter the nature of marriage itself. As a parallel, permitting citizenship registration via foreign embassies does not alter the nature of British citizenship. However, changing entry criteria, so that non-native visitors have an automatic entitlement to British citizenship rights changes the nature of the institution, rather than merely… Read more »

RevDave
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RevDave

This all sounds so reasonable and even handed *until you think about the issues they didn’t address* !! So, they argue that religions (and presumably religious people) should not have same-sex marriage imposed on them… but do they support the right of religious persons or religious orgnisations to not have to recognize a same-sex marriage – for employment law, for next of kin rights, or for provision of services (other than religious services)? I don’t think so! I doubt that they would even defend the right of religious people or religious organizations to say that same-sex marriage isn’t a real… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

Since when did ‘biology’ need defending??!! I cannot think of anybody suggesting men and women can no longer have the bits they do have …

Sheesh – paranoia reaches new heights!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

RevDave, I think you are confusing civil legislation with opt-outs for religious belief. There is no provision for any group in society to opt out of civil legislation, for whatever reason. The Parliamentary system is there to (in theory) assure that every view is heard and that the most sensible and or most popular one becomes law. Religious opt-outs protect the right of believers to believe what they like, and ensures that what happens inside churches is protected. So you may still preach that same sex people are not really married and you may still refuse them any role in… Read more »

RevDave
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RevDave

Dear Erika That was my point – that the report argues that same-sex marriage can be implemented in a way that will not affect Christians and most religions – that think it is wrong. But it gives that impression by ignoring the actual effects it will have on the freedom of people to speak and act as if same-sex marriage is not marriage. So the “report” is more propoganda than a objective evaluation. Regarding adoption etc, I don’t have a lot of problem with two men or two women adopting a child – given that the ideal of a new… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rev Dave I don’t know if the report was written by people who belong to any church, but what most people mean when they say that civil same sex legislation will not affect Christians is that churches will not be forced to conduct same sex marriages. Whether any individual Christian feels otherwise “affected” by the fact that someone down the road gets married is really a different issue. As for same sex parenting, I believe studies consistently show that children raised in stable relationships by the people they have been with from birth do better than children who don’t know… Read more »

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

A recent U.S. study that supposedly found that gay parents were not as good parents as straight parents was widely condemned as being deeply flawed – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/gay-parents-study-kids-social-scientists_n_1589177.html **** “[The study] categorized all people who said their parents were once in a same-sex relationship in the same group, even if those people had also experienced major childhood upheavals. About half of the people whose parents had ever been in gay or lesbian relationships also said their parents had once been in a heterosexual marriage, suggesting that a great many of these children were the products of a heterosexual relationship in which… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“BUT the findings also consistently show that a child raised by its own mother and father, has significantly better outcomes!”

Citations please, RevDave?

What I understand: studies show that, for a child 1) *2* (committed-to-each-other) parents are better than one, and 2) an *unbroken* family is better than broken one.

But that is NOT the same as “a child raised by its own mother and father, has significantly better outcomes”. No, not at all the same.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“But it gives that impression by ignoring the actual effects it will have on the freedom of people to speak and act as if same-sex marriage is not marriage.” I am trying to imagine those effects. You will still be free to preach in your churches that, in your eyes and in God’s eyes these people aren’t married. You can still stand on Hyde Park Corner proclaiming that they will go to hell in a hand cart. And you can still “act” as if they weren’t married, whatever that means for you. You could, if you were really obsessed, plaster… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

In a civil society you cannot act as though what the state recognises as true were not true. You cannot act as if an innocent man is guilty, whatever you think of the verdict. You can only say you think he is guilty if you are pretty sure he will not bring an action for slander/libel against you. It is easier when individuals are not concerned. You cannot act as if a marriage has not taken place, when one has. You can think what you like, and if you want to say (for instance) that all marriages after divorce are… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Even if statistical outcomes were to become the primary determinant of parental suitability (it would be ridiculous to imagine Social Services wresting kids from birth parents, just because they belong to a group with statistically inferior outcomes), how could you isolate a detriment to be *solely* due to parental influence? A deserted and recently divorced mother should not have to negotiate custody terms with authorities who believe that her offspring are statistically better off within the pairing of her ex-husband and his new partner. As before, the latest comments on this thread betray a desire on the part of some… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

What a wonderful synopsis by Rosemary Hannah.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“If the proposals for same-sex marriage are adopted, SRE teachers in religious schools would be mandated to explain ‘the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and bringing up children’ with respect to both homosexual and heterosexual orientations.

– Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday –

Quite so, David. and what is so unlovingly un-Christian about that? The Prophet Micah did say:
“This is what Yahweh asks of you:to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God”

Not a bad policy – even for conservative people!

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

@David – I don’t think anybody is proposing taking children from their own parents. In the case of a break up is is now usual for both parents to have responsibility for the child, and both to have the child living with them. In practice such arrangements break down because of hostility between the parents, or because work take one or the other away from the home town, but the ideal is to have both natural parents involved in the child’s care. The days of courts ‘giving’ the child to one or the other parent are long gone. The case… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

@Ron: Given that you admit that we live in a ‘non-theocratic democracy’, Micah’s theocratic view of acting justly differs considerably from the godless secular attempts to assign marital equivalence to create a travesty of the institution. @Rosemary: I merely challenged the earlier emphasis in this thread on the study of outcomes as a basis for comparison between heterosexual and same-sex parenting. If courts gave credence to ‘proof’ that single parenting is more detrimental to ‘the best interests of the child’ than a stable pairing of any orientation, a deserted biological mother would stand little chance in a less than amicable… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

David, we already know that the evidence is that children do best with two parents, but no court awards sole custody to whichever parent has a new partner. That Daddy is now with a new woman does not enter the thinking, and it will not if Daddy is with a new man. In as far as possible courts try to get both parents to maintain responsibility for the child, whoever they are with. This is a straw man.

David Shepherd
Guest

@Rosemary: My words expressed what might happen *if* courts gave any credence to these studies of outcomes (and you clearly agree with me that they don’t). Therefore, as I said, comparative outcomes have no place in this discussion. Furthermore, the phrase ‘recently re-partnered ex-husband’ does not connote a particular orientation. I would contend that the straw man is an effigy of your own artifice, not mine. What part of ‘stable pairing of any orientation’ did you not understand? My point is that child outcome comparisons are irrelevant to this discussion of the same-sex marriage proposals and the evidence-based approach that… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

@David – no, it is because we know that the most important thing for children is to keep up links, not with birth parents, but with those people who have always nurtured them, that custody is ideally joint custody. That does give the best outcome for the child (unless one parent is in some way abusive or neglectful)

RevDave
Guest
RevDave

Dear Rosemary and Erika As Rosemary has said, a changed legal definition of marriage *will* affect everyone. Two men or two women down the road getting married won’t affect me directly (though it will if they decide my rejection of their gay marriage is “homophobic” and complain about me) but I bet you would object most strongly if the law didn’t oblige me as an employer to treat and employee’s same-sex marriage the same as another employees male-female marriage…. So where is my freedom? Not being forced to approve of a same-sex wedding *ceremony* is trivial compared to the effects… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

RevDave. I think you are ignoring completely the fact that Same-Sex Couples have been know to adopt children of a loveless marriage – whose immediate circumstances militate against the children’s good.

This is surely better than leaving children in an environment of bitter, and often violent conflict between their natural parents, that is proven to be deleterious to the children’s health & wellbeing?

MarkBrunson
Guest

Being limited in what you are allowed to do to other people – especially in terms of the power of an employer over an employee – is a basic aspect of being part of a society with laws and expectations. I don’t see the point of the uproar. There are always limits on the way we can treat others, and, as such, no legal decision or legislative outcome is without that sort of effect on society. That’s why it is society and not chaos. Trading certain amounts of freedom for liberty is society. The concerns about restrictions on employment practices… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

RevDave, yes, you are right. The state allows no citizen an opt out from its laws. There is a certain opt out to continue to discriminate in the religious sphere, but rightly only there. Which is why you, like any other citizen, and indeed like the church itself, have had the opportunity to contribute to the consultation phase. And which is why you, like any other citizen, will have to live within the resulting laws. There are rather a lot of laws in this country I’m not happy with but it would be strange if I tried to negotiate solid… Read more »