Updated Monday morning
Financial Times Gay marriage clash looms for Cameron
Blogs and opinion:
James Townsend The consequences of the women bishops vote start to roll in
…I am relatively relaxed about Gay Marriage – I would never campaign for it, but then could never bring myself to oppose it. However, many of the traditionalists who voted against women bishops have done themselves a great disservice because they care rather more about protecting the institution of marriage than they do about women bishops.
The Prime Minister’s original position not only respected the right of churches to opt out of Gay Marriage (I haven’t yet heard anybody suggest that churches should be forced to conduct gay marriages), but including a legal ban making it non-negotiable. His new position won’t change things very much for the Church of England. The only shift is that people like the Quakers, who choose to recognise Gay Marriage, will be able to do so.
Nevertheless, we can see a hardening of the government’s position which is a direct consequence of the women bishops vote. They are less interested in accommodating the needs of a group of people who increasingly look like nutters on the sidelines.
The great tragedy is that there are some decent (non-bigoted) arguments against redefining marriage to include gay relationships. Unfortunately the debacle of women bishops, which has served nobody, means they are likely never to be listened to again.
Changing Attitude Changing Attitude welcomes government plans for gay marriage in church
Christian Concern Government breaks promise on same-sex marriage in churches
Maria Miller ‘We should not stand in their way’
…And I know concerns have been raised by some faith groups about our plans and what they will mean for them. I have put it on record many times, and I will say again, that I will never bring in a law that would impinge – in any way – on the Church’s power to decide who it marries and who it does not. No religious organisation, or individual, should ever be forced to conduct same sex marriages. The European Convention on Human Rights already guarantees freedom of religion, and this cannot be breached. We should not confuse this issue, as many do, with some cases currently going through the EU courts about the right to wear items such as crucifixes – this is about a fundamental religious tenet. But in spite of this guarantee, I will also be bringing forward additional watertight legal locks on the front of any primary legislation introduced, to ensure that these protections are iron clad.
Now, many religious organisations have pointed out to me that these protections would be stronger if we changed our original proposal to ban all religious organisations from conducting same sex marriages. Some, like the Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians, have also said that they want to be able to conduct same-sex marriages, in the same way that they can conduct civil partnerships. My own personal view is that we should not stand in the way of this, especially if it means that those that don’t want to will be even further protected. It is a fundamental point of religious freedom that religious bodies should be able to make their own decisions on this issue.
For me, far from being a radical departure, this is simply one more in a long line of reforms which have strengthened marriage, ensuring it remains a modern and vibrant institution. Over the coming weeks and months I will continue to work closely with faith and other interested groups on how best to implement our plans…
The LGBT Anglican Consortium has issued this press statement:
The LGB&T Anglican Coalition is delighted that David Cameron has said the government’s proposals on equal marriage will include an option for ceremonies to take place on religious premises.
This outcome concurs with our own submission to the government’s consultation, and those of our partner organizations.
It is a matter of regret that the latest official Church of England response makes absolutely no mention of the breadth of views on this matter within the Church itself.
Independent editorial: When Tories dig their heels in
Quakers in Britain Quakers welcome steps towards equal marriage