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Bishops call for gay civil partnerships in church

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  1. An excellent statement considering where its coming from. However talk is cheap, lets see the action.

  2. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 10:56am

    Another baby step in the right direction, especially when I think of the C of E’s opposition to gay rights in Uganda.

    But where is Doctor Williams?

  3. Who gives a sh!t. Gay people are denied the right to enter the legal contract of marriage based on their sexual orientation. The 2nd class status of Civil Partnerships are a gross insult.

    I want to see same sex marriage legalised and opposite sex civil partnerships legalised.

    Until that happens window-dressing such as whether churches are allowed to perform CP’s merely serve to hide the glaring discrimination inherent in the Civil Partnership system, which at the present time is discriminatory and wrong.

  4. the word missing is ‘marriage’.

  5. When is the British government likely to face the European court of human rights because of our marriage inequality laws?

  6. I can just imagine the spluttering over the cornflakes this morning.

  7. “Straight couples have the choice between civil marriage and religious marriage.”
    No they f+cking dont, thats why theres a protest at the moment because a straight couple cant legally get a civil ceremony!

  8. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 11:27am

    If it comes to that, then it will be clear that the UK is not a champion of human rights, innit.

    And hardly the land of organized and efficient gay activists, now that I think of it. Well, there was the Wolfenden Report.

  9. Daniel Pitt 23 Feb 2010, 11:44am

    About bloody time they recognised our human rights too! Okay it’s not full marriage but we’re slowly getting there.

  10. #7 – Yes, straight couples do, Tigra. A straight divorcee can be refused permission to marry in church (because of his/her divorce) but can still get married in a civil marriage (non-religious, purely legal, taking place at a Registry Office or licensed place). So, just because some churches don’t like them because they’ve been divorced, doesn’t mean they can’t get married.

    However, the same isn’t true for gay couples. They are barred from marriage – even civil marriage.

    I don’t give a damn about churches. They can make their own decisions about whom they want to marry, but I’m p*ssed off that I can’t get married in a Registry Office simply because the person I love is the same sex as me. That’s discrimination. Everyone – no matter what their sexuality – should be allowed a civil MARRIAGE. Marriage should be gender neutral.

  11. Sometiems I am depressed, and sometimes so very hopeful.

    This is so interesting – once people get a little comfortable with gay people and their issues, eg England has had civil unions for some years now, much of the ingorance melts away. How not so very long ago was the church about to collapse and all kinds of things horrible was going to happen, because the episcopal church _ the US version of the Anglicans, appointed a gay bishop.

    And all of a sudden – when the powers that be have a little time to get over their embarassment – that is exactly what it is – over their old positions, things begin to change.

    Here in the USA, gay marriage passed the New Hampshire State House by a handfull of votes if I remember correctly.

    And now the law is implemneted, an attempt to repeal it was rejected by an almost 2-1 vote.

    My opinion is this is also in a sense, due to the end of the “closet”.

  12. Joseph Healy 23 Feb 2010, 11:56am

    End ban on religious civil partnerships, Greens urge

    Current law forces churches to discriminate against gay couples

    London – 23 February 2010

    The Greens have become the first and and only political party to officially support an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship.

    The new Green Party policy would allow gay-affirmative churches, such the Quakers, Unitarians and Metropolitan Community Church, to host civil partnership ceremonies for the first time. They are currently prohibited by law from hosting religious civil partnerships.

    The vote at the Green Party’s Spring conference, which took place in London on the weekend, makes the Greens unique among British political parties. No other party has the same commitment to end this discrimination.

    By a near unanimous vote, Green delegates voted to strike down the ban on religious civil partnerships.

    The motion was proposed by human rights rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is also the Green Party’s human rights spokesperson. It was seconded by Darren Johnson, the openly gay Green member of the London Assembly and the Green parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford.

    A copy of the motion agreed follows below.

    The new policy will now be added to the Green Party’s Manifesto for a Sustainable Society.

    “The State is denying, by force of law, the right of religious bodies to treat same-sex couples equally. It is forcing them to discriminate, even when they don’t want to,” said Peter Tatchell.

    “Gay-accepting churches, such the Quakers, Unitarians and the Metropolitan Community Church, want to conduct civil partnership ceremonies and should be allowed to do so.

    “The ban on religious civil partnership ceremonies smacks of authoritarianism. This injustice was written into the Civil Partnership Act by the Labour government in 2004, in a bid to appease homophobic religious leaders. At the time, the government refused all requests to remove the prohibition on religious civil partnership ceremonies.

    “The Greens are supporting Lord Alli’s bid to amend the Civil Partnership Act to allow faith organisations to decide for themselves whether they want to offer religious civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

    “If the law is amended, we expect that gay-affirmative denominations will agree to host civil partnerships. Some individual Anglican churches, and some liberal synagogues, are likely to follow suit.

    “I may disagree with religion and want a separation of religion from the state, but I still object to religious same-sex couples being denied the option of having a civil partnership in their place of worship. If that is what they want, it is up to them. Exclusions based on faith or sexuality are wrong.

    “The Unitarians are hosting a conference on marriage equality in London this coming weekend, where I will outline new campaigns to challenge the bans on same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. The aim is full equality for homosexual and heterosexual couples,” said Mr Tatchell.

    Green Party conference motion RR507 (passed)

    “The Green Party supports an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship, whilst recognising it is up to religious bodies to make this decision and not for the state to dictate to them prohibitions on civil partnerships.”

    Further information: Peter Tatchell – 0207 403 1790

    If you would like to contact Peter Tatchell, please email

    You can follow Peter on Twitter at or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at

  13. I should also add that this should be another part of the Welcoming of the Pope Ratzinger – Benedict.

    btw, note his name. RATzinger, and his hte prounounciation, in americanese at least of the first part of his name – RATZInger.

    Like our pronouciantion of Nazi = said as naTzi.

    Strange coincidences

  14. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 12:21pm

    @Joseph Healy:

    But what if most of us don’t like Peter Tatchell?

  15. lol was gonna ask that myself Jean-Paul B…

  16. PLEASE! Why can’t the Church of England come out(!) with a unified voice on this issue? Split with the medievalists in Africa and declare an “alliance” with the Episopalians and denounce Rome’s backward looking so called christianity! A new reformation is needed!!!!

  17. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 1:02pm

    Sounds like a good title for a book, Mike.

  18. SimonM and Iris, I totally agree. Expect no full marriage or civil partnership equality for both gays and straights from any UK government. They’re not that progressive. Now if Cameron were truly for full equality, he’d back it, but he won’t. He’s afraid to upset the cultists in the House of Lords and the state cult in general. Religious beliefs trump our rights. That’s always been the way and its not going to change unless we demand change. The power lies with us and getting our straight allies on board. We need to make government afraid of the people, just like the French do. We’re too complacent and look to StonewallUK, an organisation that doesn’t have the slightest interest in full equality but actually believes we more or less have it already while other, more enlightened progressive countries go a lot further than we do. The UK has never been an innovator when it comes to civil rights for gay people, quite the opposite. If anything, civil partnerships are regressive in some ways. How many other countries with the exception of Ireland are going this way compared to eight of them who’ve gone a whole lot further? We’re vastly outnumbered and the gap is going to get wider and wider as more get on board. Both Labour and Tory governments will be on the wrong side of history, but that’s nothing new either.

  19. Bishop Ioan 23 Feb 2010, 3:12pm

    The missing word is definitely “marriage”. Second-class is not acceptable.

    I agree that the CofE needs to get a unified voice, quit pandering to the homphobic types and forge an alliance with the Episcopalian Church in the interest of justice. Whether or not they will do so is another question.

  20. HI JPB; yes indeed you could write a book about all this claptrap. I can only respect a religion that respects my human rights as well as my spiritual well being! The Sunday BBC1 moral question time had this subject a week or two ago but I missed it because I need my fix of the Archers; poor old Phil(!)

  21. @Joseph Healy,

    “End ban on religious civil partnerships, Greens urge

    Current law forces churches to discriminate against gay couples”

    So the Greens propose replacing a discriminatory law with a slightly less discriminatory law?

    If they are REALLY for ending discrimination against gay couples then why would they not propose outright ending the discrimination by ending the ban on equal access to marriage for gay couples?

    I find their proposal, in some ways, more offensive than the current ban on religious civil partnerships (WOW, how obvious is the oximoron when you say it like that?). What they are saying is, unlike the other parties we RECOGNIZE and publicly acknowledge the discrimination against gay couples but we’re only willing to lessen it, not end it.

    As Mrs. Slocomb would say, “Weak as water, WEAK AS WATER!”

  22. “End ban on religious civil partnerships, Greens urge”

    Are the Greens expecting to be taken seriously by the LGBT population while they refuse to campaign for full marriage equality?

  23. darkmoonman 23 Feb 2010, 5:04pm

    This should scare the conservative US Anglicans (a.k.a Episcopalians) right into the arms of the Anglican priests of Nigeria. We already have several Anglican churches here who have imported Nigerian priests solely because they’re so rabidly anti-gay.

  24. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey.

    We’ll get there in the end.

    Inch by inch.

    Thank you, Bishops. Pour yourselves a sherry!

  25. As congregations dwindle and people increasingly shun the church for their wedding, perhaps the church has realised it’s running out of money and it would welcome the extra revenue, even if it is gay revenue.

  26. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 7:11pm

    @Mike 20:

    The book has already been written by an American named Matthew Fox, “a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years, was expelled by the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), who was chief inquisitor in the Catholic Church.

    Matthew Fox is the foremost proponent of creation spirituality, based on the mystical teachings of early Christian visionaries such as Hildegard von Bingen, Meister Eckhart, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

    He is the author of twenty-six books, including “Original Blessing”, “The Coming of the Cosmic Christ”.”

    Also, Matthew Fox is the author of a book entitled “A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of christianity”, 2006, ISBN 1-59477-123-5(pbk.)

    On the front cover we see in living color Matthew Fox, hammer in one hand, nail in the other, attaching his 95 Theses to the very same door used by Martin Luther as a bulletin board to proclaim the beginning of the First Reformation, in Wittenberg.

    Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of “A New Christianity for a New World” says of Matthew Fox that he is “insightful and profound. History will name Fox one of the great Christian spirits of our age.”

    @Eddy 24:

    Spot on.

  27. Omar Kuddus 23 Feb 2010, 9:27pm

    If it hapens it shall be a right step in the diection of equlity.
    But sorry im not holding my breath.
    Unfotunately it shall take someone to take the British government to the European Court of Human Rights to achive this , and thus bring civl partnerhip / marrages into equality.
    Any Offers?

  28. any gay person who has a civil ceremony in a church must be mentally ill. or have amnesia. christianity is on its way out. in 50 years people will wonder what the hell their ancestors were going on about.

  29. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 10:49pm


    “…take the British government to the European court of Human Rights…”???

    Why didn’t I think of that?!

  30. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Feb 2010, 10:57pm


    christianity as we know it is on its way out, right.

    For example, I strongly suspect Dr. Robin Williams may be in a deep depression and has asked the college of bishops to make a statement regarding the issue of gay civil partnerships in church; in other words, the C of E is becoming more democratic.

    Mind you, I could be wrong.

    I thought I was wrong once, but I was wrong! yuk, yuk.

  31. “…, I strongly suspect Dr. Robin Williams may be in a deep depression …

    Well, if that really bad Hollywood actor has got himself a doctorate, good for him – but perhaps you mean ‘Rowan’?

  32. Jean-Paul Bentham 24 Feb 2010, 2:10am

    ha ha! You caught me. yuk, yuk. Of course I meant Rowan not Robin, Rehan.

  33. Tim Hopkins 24 Feb 2010, 8:37am

    A few people have mentioned the European Court of HUman Rights. There are two cases already before the court, claiming that the Euro Convention requires same-sex marriage. Schalk & Kopf v. Austria is having its admissibility hearing at the court, tomorrow (Thursday). Chapin & Charpentier v. France is at an earlier stage. Both are male couples – the French couple were actually married, by the Green mayor of Begles, but their marriage was annulled by the French courts.

    The Euro court often works very slowly. The Austrian case was submitted to the court in 2004, and the French one in 2007.

    But, as some of us have commented here previously, I wouldn’t at the current time hold out too much hope of success for these cases

    For the technically minded, there are excellent third party submissions to the court on both cases, written on behalf of ILGA-Europe and other organisations, by Prof Robert Wintemute at King’s College London.

    The more recent one, on eth French case, can be found here.

  34. The Bishops are missing something: British Quakers don’t want to perform civil partnerships. They currently do celebrate same-sex unions in the same manner as any other. What the Quakers decided to do at last year’s Britain Yearly Meeting was to begin RECORDING all unions the same way – in other words, using the same legal documentation (the distinctive “Quaker marriage licenses” on which everyone present at the wedding signs as a demonstration of equality and the individual Meeting House’s support for the couple) as a corporate testament to equality. They’re going to be MARRYING same-sex couples rather than having exactly the same wedding format (the couple stand up at some point during Meeting for Worship and declare that they are marrying) plus different paperwork. They’re having absolutely equal documentation, even if it means placing the recording clerks in direct opposition to the law. They’re also actively lobbying for marriage equality under the law.

    Slight difference from “You can have your second class copy of marriage here”, no?

  35. @JPB
    “Most of us don’t like Peter Tatchell” is a highly perjorative statement. Can you justify that? In every LGBT event he has attended here in the south west, attendance from appreciative LGBT people have increased.

    The difference between Tatchell and Stonewall is that Stonewall claims to speak for LGBT people, while Tatchell claims to speak for equality, regardless of the community being marginalised.

    If you don’t like Tatchell, you should instead say “what if SOME of us don’t like Tatchell” and the response is – you are not obliged to.

  36. *has

    That is “has increased”. Minor mistake, not in the league of speaking for “most” LGBT though!

  37. Well, said, Matt B.

    The fact is that one hell of a lot of us admire and appreciate what Peter Tatchell has done for us.

    He’s not perfect. None of us are. But the man has integrity and gumption.

  38. I couldn’t agree more, Eddy and Matt B. PT is a saint, even if (like most saints) he can come across as a bit bonkers from time to time.

  39. Jean-Paul Bentham 25 Feb 2010, 2:51am

    MattB @35:

    Thanks for challenging me.

    I came to the conclusion that most of us don’t like Peter Tatchell not because I know Peter, but because every time his name comes up on these threads, most of the comments about him are negative. I would say as many as 80% are negative, and very often made by the some very intelligent guys who are more prone, for some reason that escapes me, to second guess Tatchell’s “selfish agenda” than to appreciate what he has done and continues to do for the UK’s LGBT community and Human Rights as a whole.

    For example, when Peter received the “Blue Plaque” not too long ago, it become clear to me that most commentators here did not think he deserved it, or that he would use it to primp himself up, or that it was meaningless. Check it out, it’s in the Pink archives.

    As for the statement I made, those were well chosen words. In the first place there are a few devoted followers of Peter Tatchell commenting at Pink, and they usually do get raked over the coals whenever they stand up for him and his work.

    Also, it was primarily because I started reading Peter’s blogs on his own website that I was drawn to PinkNews where I expected to find the UK’s gay community supporting every word spoken by Peter.

    I was disappointed; still am. But I must say I do enjoy PinkNews and I do like the guys and gals who comment here.

    Finally, I didn’t say I didn’t like Peter Tatchell, did I? The fact is I believe he is a tremendous gay activist, and one of the few in the UK who has achieved his international stature.

    Seriously though, haven’t you noticed that most of us don’t like PT?

  40. I do like Peter Tatchell, I think he does a good job. He may not be perfect, but he’s only human.

    I am dismayed that, given that the most important point about this story is the three groups that DO want to do same-sex weddings (and Unitarians do want to do weddings not just civil partnerships, whatever the government calls it) are not mentioned in the heading.

    And (though it never gets mentioned) Pagans also want to do same-sex legal weddings. However, Pagan opposite-sex weddings are only legal in Scotland, but they are not allowed to do same-sex legal weddings there. Hopefully if this is sorted out, at least LGBT Scottish Pagan couples can have legal weddings, even if neither opposite-sex nor same-sex English Pagan couples can.

  41. J-P, with regard to Peter Tatchell, I understand why you have received the impression you have. But I believe it is fair to say that that 80% you suggest are people who are sitting at home and browsing the news – but not interested in thinking, getting involved, taking action, actively supporting progress. They’re the floaters. They’re happy to enjoy the benefits brought them by the 20% who are prepared to sticks their necks out and do the fighting.

    Even the gay community has its hoi polloi!

  42. Jean-Paul Bentham 26 Feb 2010, 12:55am


    Touché. Of course you understand why I would have had that impression from reading the comments here about Peter. You are one of the few who have always supported and defended Peter. I know that.

    By way of comparison, what impression would you have of the American gay community if you noticed that most of the guys, who are very well-informed on issues in general, commented on an American gay newspaper and spoke against Harvey Milk, saying that he was just trying to make a name for himself while they barely mentioned any of the objectives he did achieve as a gay leader and gay activist?

    Perhaps more of us would strive to be like Harvey Milk or like Peter Tatchell if we noticed that gay activists do have the public support of the gay community.

    It’s not like me to moralize, and I’m not about to tell anyone what to do. Fact remains that if we do appreciate Peter Tatchell, then by extension, shouldn’t we be looking more closely at the Green Party while trying to grasp the vision that has attracted Tatchell?

    I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I was simply stating the obvious when I said that most of us don’t like PT.

  43. Hi, JP. A big problem with evaluating Peter’s value and popularity by the comments about him or the referrals to him on this website, is that this website does not report everything that Peter does on a daily basis.

    Just off the top of my head, Peter was on an important TV talk-programme a few weeks ago along with a couple of other high-profile people of different viewpoints to his. Each time he spoke a sizeable part of the studio audience showed their appreciation by applauding. A few years back, Andrew Neil, former editor of The Sunday Times, did a series of TV programmes in which he interviewed, with great intensity, a string of significant British political figures. He chose to interview Peter, as one of these.

    Peter is much admired in this country for all of his human rights work. And he is constantly being invited to participate in the sort of discussions I have described above. Perhaps if he has a CV on his website all of these appearances may have been listed.

    But, JP, have you EVER seen a headline here on PinkNews like:

    “Peter Tatchell appears on important prime-time interview programme”.


    “Peter Tatchell interview to appear in next issue of XXXXX”.

    This work that Peter is continually doing is not deemed “newsy” enough, not only by PinkNews but by other websites and forms of media. As we well know by the headlines that DO appear, editors are constantly looking for the arousing, the sensational, and the startling!

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