Thinking Anglicans

Marriage Bill gets Royal Assent: some reactions

Updated

As noted in the Comments below, the text of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is now available online here.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales issued this statement: Statement on on the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act

…The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted. The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in “having regard” to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can “take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets”, and that “having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so”. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed…

Christian Concern has issued this: Challenge issued to Archbishop over Lords vote on same sex marriage

…Mrs Minichiello Williams said in her letter: “I am surprised that the Church of England appears to be vacating the public square when it comes to the issue of marriage. Given the rich teaching of Scripture and strong tradition of marriage, this is something that the CofE should be able to comment on clearly, intelligently and winsomely.
“Marriage is something to be celebrated, promoted and, at this time, preserved. At a time when the nation needs to hear a prophetic voice on marriage, the CofE’s message is sadly mixed and, as a result, unclear.”

Second Reading vote

A Church of England official replied on behalf of the Archbishop, in which he argued that the vote on the Bill at Second Reading had a detrimental effect on the chances of securing subsequent amendments to the Bill.

Lord Dear introduced a ‘wrecking amendment’ at Second Reading which, had it been successful, would have derailed the Bill.

The Church official said in his letter that this move went against House of Lords tradition and protocol and therefore was a serious misjudgement.

Precedent

But in her reply, Mrs Minichiello Williams referred to the clear precedent for voting at Second Reading as a means of voting on the principle of a Bill. She said: “It was very disappointing that the Archbishop himself said in the Second Reading debate that he was against the vote on Second Reading. In the event, of course, the Archbishop himself voted against the Bill, but his statement could well have dissuaded peers from voting with Lord Dear…

Media reports:

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Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

More sour grapes? Can you find some positive things to post too, Simon – some Christians are very happy today!

Tim
Guest

`At a time when the nation needs to hear a prophetic voice on marriage’

Sad that leadership’s had to come from secular quarters rather than the Church then, isn’t it?

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Christian Concern are presumably members of the school of thought that if you’re going to lose a battle, you should aim for as many posthumous Victoria Crosses as possible. Such leaders are not well respected in the Army, as most people would prefer to live, even if as a PoW. Ms Williams seems to think that Bishops should have turned up to vote on a lost cause, making the church look substantially more conservative than it really is, and possibly even made speeches that as individuals they disagreed with, and which the church doesn’t universally support. This would have been… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

As a Yank, I’m genetically-inclined to be a (small ‘r’!) republican . . . but TODAY I say, God Bless the Queen! 😀

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Lord Cormack in his comments at third reading was measured and civil and reminded people of Churchill’s maxim that ‘in victory magnanimity’. The awful lack of grace from some quarters teaches me that ‘in defeat magnanimity’ is also important. We are all called to be big souled. Recognition of differences across hurt and division isn’t likely to grow amidst further doses of acrimony. Is this really what the gospel wants from us? The bitter ones are going to go off and be bitter (and yes, paranoid) and little can be done about that. There is some hope for the Church… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I want a “like” button for some of the turns of phrase of Interested Observer!

The New Statesman’s article is very very important. Christians will need to continue the battle, not only for the sake of full acceptance in our own churches but also to emphasize that there is no “Christians vs the rest of the world” reality and that right wing conservatives do not speak for the majority of Christians. They must be seen as the marginal force they are – that will be a big step towards reducing the tolerance of anti gay bullying in society.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Recognition of differences across hurt and division isn’t likely to grow amidst further doses of acrimony.” Five years later, American evangelicals are still looking for reasons why Obama’s victory was illegitimate. I don’t think they ever reconciled themselves to Clinton, either. It’s not that they believe these Presidents to have been wrong-headed and incompetent, and the electorate to have been misguided: that’s a legitimate position. Rather, they believe that the electorate was something between defrauded by the fake election of a malign presidency that acts only in bad faith. In our dreams, people who disagree with the outcome of democratic… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@JCF, its usually God Save the Queen, and on this one I totally agree, but in this instance perhaps God Save the Church of England may be more in order. As it seems it cannot save itself from constantly shooting itself in the foot.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Sour grapes indeed. Our RC bishops still can’t find an argument against gay marriage that does not apply equally to marriages of the aged and sterile, e.g “The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central.” A Polish Dominican who claims to be a papal theologian charged with vetting the pope’s utterances seems… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

Thinking more about all this ghastly commentary and dire prognosticating. The idea of sour grapes appears in Aesop, but also in the Bible. The Biblical version is usually in this form:

“The fathers (sic) have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”.

I would have thought that is precisely what this exercise in grumpy bad sportsmanship by the RC bishops and the EA is likely to result in. The next generation are likely to be thoroughly pissed off with their “fathers”. Own goal!

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“right wing conservatives do not speak for the majority of Christians” Unfortunately, the media narrative is that they do, just as bearded fascists speak for the majority of Muslims. Stephen Green and Anjem Choudrey are two sides of the same coin: media-savvy, simplistic, authoritarian and always available to the Newsnight researchers who have them on speed-dial. The problem with the likes of Choudrey and Green is that, for the naive, they set up a vision of “true” religion. That is then reflected in the likes of Richard Dawkins, who takes that fundamentalist discourse, and packages it up with “People of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The response of the Roman Catholic bishops is entirely predictable – focused as they are on human reproduction. What they are failing to recognise is that the bond of marriage can be a positive social force for good in the world – where fleeting sexual relationships are all too often the norm whether hetero or homosexual. What the bishops also do not recognise – upholding their Church’s ban on contraception – is that not every act of marital sex is undertaken with the intention of producing (maybe unwanted) children, which could be more of a problem for both the Church… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Ron,
the response of Catholic Bishops is not entirely honest. Civil marriage legislation has never been focused on reproduction and it is completely disingenuous to pretend that it had and that this new law changes that.

Considering these are educated people one assumes they understand that perfectly well and one can only speculate why they are continuing to make these statements.

FD Blanchard
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FD Blanchard

American right wing evangelicals are still angry over the Republican Party dumping Senator Robert Taft for Eisenhower during the 1952 party convention in Chicago.
There are Southerners who still write letters to General Lee.

robert Ian Williams
Guest
robert Ian Williams

For once I agree with Ron…. its not what they say, its what they don’t say…why can’t they be honest and say the Roman Catholic religion regards homosexual practice as an abomination and a sin that will send its practitioners to Hell.
All this can be found in the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Every Catholic is taught from a child.. never get married in a registry office and you can only marry in a Protestant Church with church permission.

peterpi -- Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi -- Peter Gross

I agree with JCF: God bless the Queen!!!
And,
God bless those MPs and Lords who voted in favor,
And,
God bless all those who toiled for so long and so hard, often in the face of bitter, hostile, derisive, insulting, condescending opposition all too willing to use any means necessary.

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

For once I agree with Fr. Ron…. its not what they say, its what they don’t say…why can’t they be honest and say the Roman Catholic religion regards homosexual practice as an abomination and a sin that will send its practitioners to Hell. All this can be found in the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church. Every (Roman) Catholic is taught from a child.. never get married in a registry office and you can only marry in a Protestant Church with church permission. Posted by: robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 4:44pm BST If you say so… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Every Catholic is taught from a child.. never get married in a registry office and you can only marry in a Protestant Church with church permission.”

And, yet, millions of Roman Catholics do both.

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

How often do we hear a powerful testimony to Jesus’ message like this ?

And relevant to this thread – to all threads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d8qC8KKdkeU

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“And, yet, millions of Roman Catholics do both.” Or, perhaps, millions of people do who describe themselves as Roman Catholics do so to indicate their culture, heritage and quasi-ethnic origin, rather than any sort of dominating through system of discipline and belief. This is what some anti-racist campaigners would call “essentialism”: the assumption that whatever you’re discussing (“race” or religion, most commonly) is people’s prime and dominating reference point, and therefore that they are Catholic (or whatever) before they are husbands, lovers, doctors, Labour voters, Guide leaders, Take That fans or one of the many other ways that people position… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

I sometimes like to think I’m a better Catholic than some of those who are within the remit of the Bishop of Rome. I like and admire much of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but I can’t find in it anywhere the view that homosexuality is an “abomination,” much less that it is “a sin that will send its practitioners to Hell.” The objections that the catechism raises (III.2.2.6.ii.2357)are rather that homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law,” that “they close the sexual act to the gift of life,” and that “they do not proceed from a genuine… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Every Catholic is taught from a child.. never get married in a registry office” With the exception of Catholics in all those countries where the churches are not allowed to register civil marriages and you have to tack on a religious service after a civil wedding. It’s a silly thing to say, anyway. Nominal Catholics couldn’t care less and committed Catholics wouldn’t want to marry in a non-Catholic setting. As for the CCC – to paraphrase James Alison, if you make a new discovery about human beings it is downright unintelligent to stick with the rules you made before you… Read more »

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

The policies& fine words, of the Church of Rome impact very negatively on the lives of good, faithful, people, on the ground :

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/06/catholic-diocese-of-columbus-refuses-to-reinstate-fired-lesbian-teacher/

John ross Martyn
Guest
John ross Martyn

What the RC Catechism says about homosexuality may be objectionable, but when I last looked at it, it did not go as far as what Robert has posted.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Well as a matter of fact,the English and welsh hierarchy have down played these very issues for fifty years ( contraception etc), and my contention is that is why souls have been lost.

There has been no sense of spirituial urgency. I agree the Church has declined in numerical strength, but my confident conviction is that the gates of Hell will never overcome her.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

“why can’t they be honest and say the Roman Catholic religion regards homosexual practice as an abomination and a sin that will send its practitioners to Hell. All this can be found in the Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Well, you’ll be happy with the Papal Theologian who calls gay sex “perverted” and “unnatural”, words scrupulously avoided in the 1986 CDF document Homosexualitatis Problema and not starring in the Catechism either. I was not aware that the Catechism ranted about “abominations” — sure you got that right?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II
robert Ian Williams
Guest
robert Ian Williams

The Universal Catechism actually describes gay sex, ” as acts of grave depravity.” and they ” can never be approved.” In the English catechism still published by CTS, homosexuality is categorised as “one of the four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance”

However persons with homosexual feelings/ temptations are affirmed in the love of God and are called to chastity and self sacrifice.They should suffer no unjust discrimination.

Helen
Guest
Helen

Could you explain the connection between contraception and the loss of souls Robert? You have me lost there.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“denying the discoveries of astrology”

I presume you mean astronomy. There’s a substantial difference.

Robert Ian Willaims
Guest
Robert Ian Willaims

You have entirely missed my point..which is how the RC bishops dealt with the gay marriage issue. I felt they left out , what they didn’t want seen in Catholic teaching. When they joined with pro polygamy Muslims et al..how could they genuinely defend marriage?

I woud say ” grave depravity ” the wording in the catechism isvirtually coterminous with abomination.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Could someone please explain why once a law has been passed (equal marriage) it takes up to a year to go into effect? Thanks.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

IO,
“denying the discoveries of astrology”

I can’t believe I wrote that! 🙂

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Sara, Gay Star News covered this today http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-mp-asks-why-it-will-take-year-him-get-married-england-and-wales190713 ‘Work is already underway and there is a lot to be done across government to ensure that all couples who want to get married; or convert their civil partnership to a marriage; or remain in their existing marriages when they change their legal gender, can do so,’ a spokeswoman said. The changes the DCMS will be implementing include the court rules, IT systems, the processes for civil registrations, religious buildings registration, religious consents (when a marriage of a gay couple is conducted with religious rites but does not take place in a… Read more »

Laurence
Guest
Laurence
Laurence
Guest
Laurence

We want to get married properly – not some ‘conversion’ of our CP – whatever that means !

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Thank you Erika. It still seems a bit strange to me that a law (any law) takes so long to go into effect. I seem to remember pictures in the NY Times of couples lined up at city hall already the night before an equal marriage was due to pass in one state – probably NY. They were counting on getting married the next day. But it could be a lapse in memory….

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

I thought the Papal theologian was very balanced and fair in presenting the Catholic view. I can’t speak for Haitian people who are converts to Protestant denominations.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Laurence,
I don’t think there is any provision for people who are civil partnered to get married, all we will be able to do is to convert our civil partnership document into a marriage certificate. I’m not even sure there’s any ceremony involved, it might simply be an administrative process.

Sam Roberts
Guest
Sam Roberts

Sara McVane: Even in the US, and other countries, laws sometimes come into force a while after they were passed. E.g, New Zealand, Uruguay, Rhode Island, and Minnesota have all passed equal marriage laws, but they will not take effect until August 1. However, the relevant French law, passed AFTER the laws of all the jurisdictions listed above, came into force fairly swiftly, so France has been having SSM ceremonies for awhile.

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

There was the case of the murder of Daniel Zamudio in very Catholic Chile by a group of Neo-Nazis which created a huge public outcry. That outrage caused a big shift in public opinion that finally overcame years of resistance to civil rights and hate crimes legislation for LGBTs by Catholic hierarchs and evangelical leaders. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17544423 and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/chile-discrimination-law-daniel-zamudio-gay-death_n_1405406.html Chile is now ahead of the USA which has no national civil rights law protecting gays and lesbians, only a patchwork of state and local laws. In 29 states, it is still perfectly legal to deny employment, housing, and public accommodation… Read more »

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

I can’t bel;eive that Erika – would be so crass (though you may be right of course)- we definately wanna get married.

As we have never actually had such a service / ceremony, how can it be denied to us ?

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Its worth stating that in the case of France there was a delay while the law was conssidered by the Conseil constitutionnel and then after being signed by the President (after the OK by the CC) it could go into more or less immediate effect. As French marriage is inherently secular in nature (no religious marriage) it was a relatively simpler matter. In the UK it is usual to take about a year to bring a law in so this is the usual practice. It must also be said that there are some complexities in the UK (England and Wales)… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

RIW,
but if the Catholic view is based on outdated ideas of humanity and if it is plain silly and increasingly immoral, would it not be better if the Pope’s theolgoy began to deal with that fact?

Otherwise we’d get the impression that the Pope is tied to Catholic theology and Catholic theology is tied to the Pope and that the two together are completely incapable of ever ever adjusting to reality.

When you have tied yourself in knots you try to free yourself, you do not do your best to make the knots tighter.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Thank you Erika. It still seems a bit strange to me that a law (any law) takes so long to go into effect. I seem to remember pictures in the NY Times of couples lined up at city hall already the night before an equal marriage was due to pass in one state – probably NY.” Sara, have you heard of the “New York minute?” They take it very seriously. The City proposed giving people a 10 second grace period on expired parking meters. The Mayor vetoed it because he wanted “a New York minute to stay New York minute.”… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Laurence there was this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246593/Gay-couples-convert-civil-partnerships-marriage-secret-100.html which seems to suggest that you could opt for a ceremony but that the standard would be a simple conversion: “Around 50,000 couples will be able to change the legal status of their relationship by simply filling in a form and popping it in the post along with a cheque to cover the cost of issuing a marriage certificate.” “Documents issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday suggested that couples in civil partnerships will have a choice about whether or not to hold a separate ceremony to mark the conversion of their… Read more »

Robert iian williams
Guest
Robert iian williams

Erika,

Catholic teaching is the deposit of faith explicated by the Catholic Church throughout the centuries.

God has gauaranteed that the unworthiness of its propagators(at times) does not effect the message.

Its the truth and sometimes I find it unpalatable.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia,
but presumably, even in New York they use forms and they have appointment systems etc.
They must have anticipated that this law would pass and made sure that it would be possible from an administrative point of view for people to get married 24 hours later. And those people would have had to have had a tentative appointment. It’s unlikely that they managed not only to book a slot but also get their wedding party together, their clothes, the tv cameras…

I’ve often wondered how they actually managed to do all that.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

RIW,
it’s the centuries that are the problem. As RC theologian James Alison points out – in the last 50 years or so we have made a new discovery about human beings, and any theology that was developed before cannot yet have taken account of it.
There IS as yet no Roman Catholic theology about homosexuality.

http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng59.html