Reader comments · Bishops say clergy will be sued for refusing civil partnerships · PinkNews

Enter your email address to receive our daily LGBT news roundup

You're free to unsubscribe at any time.


Bishops say clergy will be sued for refusing civil partnerships

Post your comment

Comments on this article are now closed.

Reader comments

  1. Just shows the lengths such ‘loving’ religions will go to, to resort to scaremongering & emotion blackmail.

    I applaud the Quakers, Liberal Judaism and the Unitarians for showing up this whinging haters for what they are.

  2. ordinary vicar 4 Mar 2010, 11:24am

    Speaking as a C of E priest, I am very concerned at the Bishop’s comments, and I wouldn’t like anyone to think that he represents the views of all the clergy. Personally I would welcome the chance to conduct civil partnerships in church, as would many of my colleagues, but leaving that aside, it is entirely misleading to raise the possibility of C of E clergy being sued for refusing to marry gay people. If the C of E, as a whole, were to decide to allow this in their churches, the situation would be analagous, it seems to me, to the situation with the marriage in church of those who have been divorced. C of E clergy have discretion to do this if they want to, or to refuse to if they feel that in conscience they cannot. No clergy person has ever been sued ( or been threatened with being sued) for refusing to marry divorcees. The Bishop of Winchester has not, I think, ever suggested that this might happen.

  3. ” The Bishop of Winchester said: “I regret enormously the vote. I believe that it will open, not the Church of England but individual clergy, to charges of discrimination if they solemnise marriages … but refuse to host civil partnership signings in their churches.” ”

    If the amendment had instead allowed civil marriage then the churches and bishops would have no grounds to object. This is because civil marriages don’t take place in religious buildings.

  4. This really angers me.
    I am no religious supporter, as most people know. However, I do not see why religions should be forced to undertake ceremonies for people they feel are unsuitable. It’s much like telling the Boy Scouts that girls should be able to join. It is their option to do what and how they please, and I support anyone in that right.


    Marriage is not the exclusive remit of the church, as is demonstrated by registry offices that offer a legally binding contract to religious, secular and atheist couples that want the same legal rights as those married in a church / mosque / synagogue etc. The entire reason that civil partnerships were invented was because the church felt they were getting too close to their concept of marriage, and they didn’t want two have to wed off “a couple of fairies”. With rulings like that, no wonder they are concerned.

    It is THIS reason why civil partnerships have had so much trouble. The way I see it, is EVERYONE has the right to get married in a legal, civil, non-religious ceremony. However, should you choose to get married in a church, and that church approves, then you may do so as an alternative. In a nutshell, you don’t bother us, and we won’t bother you.

    It is far more important that marriage is seen as a universal right between loving couples in the eyes of the law, rather than the eyes of the Lord.

  5. davevauxhall 4 Mar 2010, 11:35am

    The dishonesty and self interest these self appointed moral holders of high ground show never ceases to amaze and disgust me.

  6. it’s more scare-mongering by homophobes to push their evil agenda

  7. I thought girls COULD join the boy scouts now?

  8. If the Quakers and the Unitarians want to register civil partnerships in their places of worship, then that is a matter for them, and not for the state. Traditional Christians will be horrified at such things happening, but their horror should be directed not at the state for permitting these things, but at the Quakers and Unitarians for wishing to do them. If traditional Christians want freedom to proclaim that homosexual activity is wrong, and to exclude practising homosexuals from their membership, then they should be willing to allow freedom to religious bodies which think otherwise.

  9. RobN, all this law does is allow those churches to follow their conscience. As usual, it’s hysterical geriatric bishops whipping up fear unnecessarily – nobody i being forced to do anything!

    There should never have been a law prohibiting gay-affirming churches to be discriminatory in the first place. No rational, democratically elected human being can legislate what ‘god’ wants.

  10. He’s religious.

    So it’s no surprise that he is a foul minded, hateful bigot.

    The solution is simple.

    Ban all legal status for religious marriage.

    Open civil marriage and civil partnerships to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

    Problem solved.

  11. I am sure if you wanted a religious ceremony you would find a gay friendly vicar first. Lets face it you won’t want a blessing from a bigot! Trust Norman Homophobe Tebbit to put his oar in; same old tory, same old ideas, same old bigot!

  12. ‘….gay couples could use human rights legislation to sue vicars who chose not to officiate for them.’

    Presumably, it will also extend to priests, rabbis, and immams also?

  13. A very good comment, RobN! As an atheist I entirely agree with your sentiments.

  14. “I regret enormously the vote” – Bishop of Winchester

    So he regrets the rights of a parliamentary democracy to work in a democratic way. Why any bishops should have any place in the Lords and especially having voting rights totally escapes me.

    As for Lord Tebbit, he seems to be getting worse day by day. Last week he was causing a stink because a local Chinese restaurant dared celebrate Chinese new year without his permission. I urge the house lords to get Tebbit tested for dementia as he might not be fit to sit in the Lords.

    As for Ben Summerskill he still has not condemned Edd no Balls amendment 70 that allows for homophobia and transphobia to be taught in state funded religious school.

    It is strange how all over this irrelevant bit of legislation Stonewall and Ben Summerskill are. Just because a civil partnership is held in a church does not make it equal to marriage in the eyes of the law.

    I am fed up with Stonewall and Ben Summerskill only supporting trivial irrelevant issues and ducking out of the big issues.

  15. Ordinary Vicar…..why is that your church is so opposed to same-sex civil marriage? (I’m not referring to civil partnerships that aren’t marriages). Civil marriages have absolutely NOTHING to do with a marriage performed in a religious ceremony. Please don’t bring up the one man, one woman procreation mantra. It doesn’t work any more. There are hundreds of millions of heterosexual married couples who have had both religious and civil marriages and who have not procreated either by choice of for physical reasons. Marriage is constantly evolving, adapting to the times in which we live. The church, judaism, islam do NOT own marriage, in particular civil marriage which is the domain of the secular state. So why does it oppose our human right to marry the one we love, the primary reason why two people choose to marry in the first place?

  16. Ah yes it is all about the money.

    End of the day you cannot have special rights above everyone else based on writings made thousands of years ago that are completely open to interpretation

  17. Rose: The government forced the Scouts to take on girls (even though there was an equivalent Girl Guides) – Again, the government poking it’s PC nose in other people’s affairs.

    AdrianT: “There should never have been a law prohibiting gay-affirming churches to be discriminatory in the first place.”

    I totally disagree, based on my analogy regarding Boy Scouts. The Church is essentially a private organisation, and has every right to decide who it wants for it’s members. If you don’t like one church, go to one you do.

    I just think everyone, particularly the government, should distance themselves from the Church. Let them decide their own moral stance – but when it comes to something like marriage, it is no longer just a religious matter, it is a legal one, and the Church cannot and must not dictate or interfere in what and shouldn’t be British statute.

  18. We would be much worse of without Stonewall. They will Always get my backing.

  19. I caught this story on BBC World News early hours this morning when they do a summary of the newspaper front pages. The guy talking said it was the worng type of story for the Telegraph??? Why? It was like he didn’t care at all and said he felt sorry for the clergy! Er hello…would he have said that if this was about disabled or black people getting married?! I was totally livid but it was sheer BBC homophobia in action! I’m sorry, but so they should be sued, if a gay couple wants to get married in their local church, they should bloody well be allowed to!

  20. Chameleon 4 Mar 2010, 3:33pm

    Squidgy, just brace yourself for the backlash from … well, you can probably guess who.

    Abi – I’m interested to learn that you think issues like homophobic bullying in schools, workplace equality, the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, and the other campaigns that Stonewall are working on, are trivial. How many times does it have to be said, whether you like the name or not, that Civil Partnerships confer exactly the same legal rights and obligations upon the participants, in the UK, as a civil marriage.

    I find myself in agreement with RobN on this subject, or his first post at any rate. Something of a novelty, that. Oooh, tingles. As an atheist, I might regret many of the things that churches say and stand for, but I think it would be ectremely dangerous for the state to impose on freedom of belief.

    I’m very grateful however to ordinary vicar for such a calm assertion of his own views, and distancing himself from the inflammatory comments of the bishop, Tebbit, et al. I imagine it is a view shared by many of his colleagues, and I think you misunderstand what he is saying Robert. I’m not sure that the CofE is opposed to CPs in churches – they’re jsut hopelessly divided on the subject, as generally on issues of human sexuality. Lots of vicars think like OV, however.

    The solemnisation of CPs in permissive churches is one step along the road to changing people’s attitudes towards same-sex unions. I agree with Rob’s understanding of why CPs were chosen as the least painless route to achieving legal equality for same-sex couples. The belief that marriage is an exclusive contract for one man and one woman undoubtedly has religious origins. It may be ridiculous, but it is a view sincerely held by many people, religious or otherwise, and homophobic or not. Change, therefore, will come incrementally. Allowing CPs in church is a step along the road to normalising them, and in time I think people who want them to be called ‘marriage’ will get what they want. I just don’t see the point of getting excited about it, myself.

  21. “Abi – I’m interested to learn that you think issues like homophobic bullying in schools, workplace equality, the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, and the other campaigns that Stonewall are working on, are trivial.”

    So by staying silent on Edd no Balls amendment 70 that both Labour and the Conservatives voted and that allows state funded religious schools to use homophobic language in the classroom is tackling homophobic bullying in schools is it? What planet do you live on!

    Workplace equality is mainly tackled within the EHRC framework not by Stonewall who generally act as the governments whipping boy though in some areas they do some useful work. But by actively campaigning against Christine Burns a trans woman being commissioner of the EHRC it showed a lack of understanding of equality in the workplace or anywhere else for that matter. Stonewall campaigns against the inclusion of trans people even being included in the work of the EHRC.

    Just how are Stonewall helping the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers by never objecting publicly to the governments actions. Stonewall are too busy trying to placate government and get Ben Summerskill into the house of Lords to bother making any real waves and noise about LGBT asylum seekers.

    “How many times does it have to be said, whether you like the name or not, that Civil Partnerships confer exactly the same legal rights and obligations upon the participants, in the UK, as a civil marriage.”

    You know just as well as I do that’s just not true.

  22. Abi1975: “How many times does it have to be said, whether you like the name or not, that Civil Partnerships confer exactly the same legal rights and obligations upon the participants, in the UK, as a civil marriage.”

    “You know just as well as I do that’s just not true. ”

    Abi1975: You continually blurt out these apparently knowledgeable quotations when it is quite obvious you know damn all about the subject in hand.

    There are TWO minor differences between CP and marriage:

    1.) The couple do not have to cohabit.

    2.) The couple do not have to consummate the relationship.

    That’s it. That’s all. This is ALL everyone is squabbling about bar the actual name, which is the big hurdle because the Church assumes everyone will see a gay marriage as being condoned by them.

  23. Rachel Titley 4 Mar 2010, 5:07pm

    SimonM: As a religious lesbian, I find your sweeping generalisations extremely distasteful and prejudiced.
    It goes both ways, and of course there are christians who think that no one should be homosexual, just like there are homosexuals who think that no one should be christian. There are also a lot of people who manage to be one or the other and tolerate the other side, and even people who manage to be both. I never particularly wanted to be either, it’s just the way I am. Just like I can’t help loving /her/ I can’t help loving God either. Maybe my life would be easier if I didn’t, but I’d be lying to anyone if I said that I didn’t.

    On the subject of the article, it’s a nationwide trend that older generations are less accepting and the younger generations more so. The bishops will move on and be replaced by the new wave, just like the politicians, journalists and everyone else who holds a position of power to discriminate against us; then my generation can move in with our eyes open.

  24. Another reason for us to change government, we seem to have created a culture who only deal with the negative and never grateful to the positive.

  25. Ah more lies from the Christian haters –

    How many women priests do you know? Oh, none. But should we ban ALL women from being ANY kind of religious leader just in case one day someone pushes to end the Catholic church’s ridiculous sexism?

    Dishonest, lying bigots. I expect no more from the church

  26. I don’t care
    I am happy if the government forces the church to stop being homophobic
    they hurt kids with their sick evils

  27. If only we disestablished the church, everyone could get on with minding their own business.

  28. ….oh, and this bishop is a nasty little homophobic fearmonger.

  29. Is it just me or a lot of people here forgeting that there are 3 faiths that requested their wishes to hold Civil Partnership ceremonies?

    Another thing just because of few loud mouth religious creeps spew this vile clap-trap we shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush. There are people who believe in religion that also believe gays should have rights. Don’t see the point in kickin them all in the whatsits too.

  30. Dominick J. Di Noto 4 Mar 2010, 6:46pm

    What is there to the following some morons don’t understand???
    “Equality Bill allowing faiths to hold the ceremonies if they wish.”

    IF they wish! Who would go to someone who wouldn’t want to when there are so MANY who do and will???

  31. Pumpkin Pie 4 Mar 2010, 7:45pm

    I find it difficult to even care. Other businesses have to abide by laws against discrimination, so why should the church always get a special exemption? If they do end up being forced to marry gays, then tough titties.

  32. Chameleon 4 Mar 2010, 9:37pm

    Abi @21 – “You know just as well as I do that’s just not true.”

    I know no such thing. So c’mon educate me. Enumerate the differences, for the benefit of us all.

  33. Christine Rourke 4 Mar 2010, 9:38pm

    RobN said….”There are TWO minor differences between CP and marriage:
    1.) The couple do not have to cohabit.
    2.) The couple do not have to consummate the relationship.
    That’s it. That’s all. This is ALL everyone is squabbling about bar the actual name”

    Rob, I think some forget that Abi and a few others (myself included) view this from a TG perspective, where the differences between CP and marriage are actually more pronounced than you outline.

    If those differences are really all that lie between the two institutions then why do I, a married MtF person, HAVE to divorce from my wife before a Gender Recogniction Certificate can be awarded to me?

    I can then choose to go through a CP afterwards, but it seems obvious that there IS a huge, intended, legal difference between the two.

    If not, why force such a divorce in the first palce?


  34. Christine: I’m afraid it is you that have moved the goalposts by changing gender, so don’t blame others for their inability to conform. (I think I have this right, but forgive me if I’ve got it confused) – I think your problem is that as a man, you were entitled to marry a woman, but as a woman, you are not allowed to marry another woman, but you are allowed to have a civil partnership. I have no idea if an M2F TG can marry a man by the usual process.

    I don’t mean to sound nasty about this, but you TG people always confuse the hell out of me, and one gets totally befuddled as to where one stands, partly because the gender has no connection with the sex, so we end up with such a mixture of combinations.
    You can’t but sympathise with the authorities trying to untangle this.
    Yours is not a matter of civil partnership or not, it is the fact you are caught between the two stools of CP and marriage.

  35. Har Davids 4 Mar 2010, 11:47pm

    I don’t get it: why should any government worry about religious wedding-ceremonies? In Holland the civil union is the only one that counts and you can even choose your own spot to get married. And if people want to get married before their ‘god’ it’s up to them and I guess they can go to every god they want to. It gets pretty close to the separation of state and church, as it should be.

  36. Chrissie, thanks for your interesting post. I think that the pronounced difference between you allude to is that marriage refers to a union between two persons of opposite sexes, and a CP refers to a union between two persons of the same sex. So, in earning your GRC, you have to surrender the marriage certificate, and if you wish to remain in a legally recognised relationship with a spouse, you have to register a CP.

    That is certainly a very pronouced difference! But it is in the definition of the two states, and not in the rights and obligations that attach to them. Assuming you tranistion, divorce, and register a CP, would you not find that you are in exactly the same position, legally?

    I can see the process would be irksome, and even hurtful if you are particular attached to the social meanings of ‘marriage’. But on the other hand, if you transitioned and stayed married, you would achieve a state not available to heterosexual couples of different sex. And some of them would get annoyed about that.

    All of which may argue for civil marriage for everyone, but I don’t think that is going to happen soon, and wouldn’t solve the problem of hets that want CP and gays who don’t want marriage. In the meantime, however, would it help if you were able to seek a redesignation of the relationship without having to dissolve it, as part of the GR process?

  37. Great Har! An Alexander come to sever the Gordian Knot! It sounds like a thoroughly sensible arrangement, and I can see many advantages. Only problem being that it would make the Uk demos implode with angst, and we could spend 20 years arguing about it and never get anywhere. There’s a whole dreary political discourse going on here at the moment that’s about ‘supporting the family’, so abolishing marriage is going to go down like a cup of cold sick.

    But thank you for thinking of us.

  38. This world needs to just get off its redundant mentally limited rear end and go “you know what! here, you religious types want to keep your marriage specific to you? fine! Here, we will all call you Jesus-Married and the rest of us can settle for plain old marriage”

    Problem solved. *face palm*

    Really, we just need the world to once and for all just stand up at once and set the record here. how long are we gonna have to try and beat around the bush with these crispies over something as pointless as who (supposedly)owns a freaking word.

    Rights and relationships should not have to be limited because people piss and whine that a “sacred” word is being used to describe the EXACT same kind of love between two people that their hand-book-of-bigoted-excuses doesn’t agree with.

    /End rant.

  39. Pumpkin Pie 5 Mar 2010, 12:40am

    I’m afraid it is you that have moved the goalposts by changing gender

    Don’t be silly. Nobody asks to be born transsexual, so it can’t be her fault. And there wouldn’t need to be any “goalposts” moved if the government would just stop pussy-footing around and legalise same-sex marriage instead of coming up with this plethora of red tape.

  40. I am disappointed that the Bishop of Winchester has taken this new ‘law’ out of context, by mis-representing it to his vast, trusting, numerous, widespread congregation. The Lords did NOT say that churches HAD BY LAW to conduct a civil partnership in a religious premises, So I’m disgusted that he’s trying to coax and manipulate people into thinking this law is bad for society. That no Religion will be under legal obligation to fulfil a LGBT couple who want a religious ceremony clearly shows that this Bishop is not able to recognise his own hypocrisy nor that a gay couple can be in a loving, monogamous, committed relationship. I’m a gay Catholic, 31 years old & have been with my partner for nearly a year. I welcome the possibility of us being able to have a civil partnership at a venue with spiritual significance, as I feel it would make the occasion even more special & fulfilling. The Christian churches ALL need to remember that they are there to encourage love & compassion, not fear, distrust or hate!!

  41. you lot seem to whinge at everything you got. You get rights but then are obviously ungrateful for them. Why get more when your clearly unhappy with what you do have?

  42. I agree with Dan @ 0.28
    Stevie T – you make it sound like it’s ok to make people unequal and then expect them to be happy with breadcrumbs instead of full and legal equality, that’s why people are unhappy – because people aren’t equal

  43. so would you rather civil partnerships were cancelled until you get full marriage then? i just see that theres no appreciation of anything you do have. reading these thread, i support full equality for you but you seem to complain about what you do have. i know little steps aren’t ideal but maybe if you were seen to happier with what you do have maybe more people would back your cause.

  44. There are a lot of us that do appreciate what we have got Stevie T but we do have a way to go. There are, sadly, some that’ll never be happy ( I think they’re just happy being miserable) but I know we’re better off than we were 20, 30, 50… years ago.

    It seems other countries are beating us on the marriage thing and thats what our politicans should be ashamed of, not standing up to the bullyboy churches.

    All support for our rights are always appreciated. :)

  45. Mihangel apYrs 5 Mar 2010, 12:08pm

    two idle questions, since we’re on a somewhat philosophical spree at the moment:
    if a man is in a CP and then transitions, will he have to dissolve the CP and then marry?

    Will the CoE marry her?

  46. Stevie T – cause?? throwing breadcrumbs isn’t for the best why appreciate when people aren’t equal?

  47. chester I appreciate what your saying but you didnt answer my question.. ‘so would you rather civil partnerships were cancelled until you get full marriage then?’

  48. Pumpkin Pie 5 Mar 2010, 3:52pm

    Stevie T, you so crazy! I really don’t like this “be thankful for what you get” tone. I’m sorry if us gays seem a tad “uppity” to you, but the whole point of that is to let the politicians know that we won’t be fobbed off with half-hearted, PR-based compromises. CPs certainly made me happy. Full legal rights was pretty much the single most important thing we were fighting for with marriage. But it’s not full equality yet. There isn’t some cosmic force stopping politicians from granting us full equality. They are actively choosing to keep us unequal, and that is not a very nice thing to do. Why, it’s rather insulting.

    Say, and why was I being so surly towards somebody who supports us, anyway? Because transsexual rights and women’s rights are two other movements I wholeheartedly support, despite being a non-transsexual male. And I would never tell either group to be happy with what they’ve got when they’re given less than what they deserve. From one person who supports people he’s not to another: that’s not cool, man. Not cool.

  49. hey pumpkin pie mate i have every respect for you. im only on here coz my best mates gay. you have me and girlfriends full support. have to say though i only ask coz a lot of my mates. I get support from my other mates but it can be a job when they see these pages. like i said you should have all equal rights but you dont do yourself any favours by looking as if you constantly moan about what you do have.

  50. Hmm. Seems you must be either homophobic, or gay with “internalised homophobia” because I say the same things on here all the time but this bunch of miserable, selfish sods only want *everything*, but are against accept any compromise, but are equally unwilling to get off their leftie, fat arses to do anything about it.

  51. Pumpkin Pie 6 Mar 2010, 4:18am

    you should have all equal rights but you dont do yourself any favours by looking as if you constantly moan about what you do have.

    The only reason we don’t have full equality is because the government has decided that it doesn’t want us to have that. We’re talking about hand-outs from oppressors here. If someone nicked your car and then returned it with the stereo missing would you be thanking them? Sure, you’d be happy you got your car – that’s the main thing – but those bastards took your stereo! Nobody forced them to, but they did it anyway. Why? Because they don’t think you deserve one. Maybe they think you’ve got crap taste in music or something.

    How about if you paid to get your car serviced to pass your MOT test and the garage gives it back to you half-done and won’t give you a refund? Yeah, everyone loves analogies.

    We do like a good old rage, but only at targets who deserve it. Your support is certainly welcome.

    this bunch of miserable, selfish sods only want *everything*

    We want full equality, that is all. Try and prove me wrong, I dare you.

    equally unwilling to get off their leftie, fat arses to do anything about it.

    The irony of a closeted, self-serving coward saying this to a group of people who, as a whole, are active in the LGBT community, take part in demonstrations and campaigns, and actually face the challenges that life throws at us. It is ironic.

  52. Who is closeted? I’m certainly not. And the only “community” I ever see is when you get a bunch of grubby men all hanging around a bush on Hampstead Heath.

  53. hey pumpkin pie cheers for your reply fella. understand your point. robn you sound angry, think you need a ‘good’ night out ;)my point is if i really want something and its out of my reach, i’ll do everything to do it. i’d also make sure that what i do have is kept to its best so i dont have to lose it. that way i really appreciate what i have already but work harder to get the better one. you get enough people together you can achieve anything. you can count me in to. good luck guys.

  54. Pumpkin Pie 6 Mar 2010, 7:35pm

    Thanks, Stevie T! That’s a good work ethic. And I think you’d probably find most of us are more positive people away from this site, anyway. This is where we come to bitch about politics. :)

  55. StevieT: “You need a ‘good’ night out ;)”

    Thanks, but my idea of a good night out is staying as far away from bitchy little queens, dirty old men and gays in general.
    I certainly don’t need a shag to cheer me up.

  56. not that your bitter or nuffin….. much!

  57. Pumpkin Pie 8 Mar 2010, 6:21pm

    Thanks, but my idea of a good night out is staying as far away from bitchy little queens, dirty old men and gays in general.

    Then why did you marry one?

  58. If a church minister wants to carry out civil partnerships, let them. Just don’t expect “marriage” by Moslem clerics, Hasidic Rabiis, Catholic Priests or others who believe it goes against their heart held belief or moral judgement to do so. No one has any right to impose their sense of morality on others, no matter how you interpret the law. Tolerance, by necessity, is a two way street.

These comments are un-moderated and do not necessarily represent the views of PinkNews. If you believe that a comment is inappropriate or libellous, please contact us.