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Equality minister Lynne Featherstone says faiths won’t be sued for refusing civil partnerships

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  1. Christine Beckett 17 Feb 2011, 12:51pm

    Just another nail in religion’s coffin.

    I suppose one effect might be (and certainly should be) to make LGBT followers of the main christian churches think again about why they choose to belong to such organisations.

    Same goes for LGBT muslims.

    Religion. You know it makes no sense..!


  2. theotherone 17 Feb 2011, 12:53pm

    Why would anyone want to force a church to marry them? I mean it’s your ‘big day’ – do you really want it with ill feeling?

  3. One big step for mankind.

  4. I think that’s fine.

    At the same time though faith should not dictate the rights of gay people.

  5. What I don’t get is how she claims that people ca’t sue for discrimination when many will be discriminating?

  6. “In a country where faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to close or cut their religious ties by equality law, where Christian marriage registrars can be dismissed for their religious views on marriage and where Christian B&B owners are forced to pay compensation to same-sex couples, Christians will need a great deal of reassurance that the government is not about to do something that will make their situation even worse.”

    Sounds like Lynne thinks religions have been badly treated.

  7. So in what way does paying for a marriage service, not come under the “Goods and services Act”?

  8. Forget my last comment.

  9. The Christian Institutes hysteria over the issue . . .

  10. I’m tempted to say ‘sod the religions’ but an awful lot of people still cowtow to what they want.
    Whether through superstition or belief I don’ know but there you have it.
    As the Royal Navy used to say when I was a lad ‘There’s no atheists when action station sounds’ and there’s a fair bit of reason in that.
    I don’t say I support religion, not by any means, but can see why some people do.
    I don’t knock them and in that respect expect them to reciprocate; that, so far, has been the difficult bit.

  11. @john K

    A very good point unless of course the religions cease charging for their ‘services’.
    I can see some of those doing that!

  12. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. I do expect those who are refusing to do it now to have a change of mind when they realise the £££ they are missing out on (my atheist brother and his non-christian wife were silly enough to pay £800 for a church wedding just so the pictures would be pretty).

    I am willing to show them more consideration than they would ever show me, and not force individual denominations to act against their dogma.

    The different branches of “christianity” (for example) cannot even decide among themselves what that dogma actually is, is just a further cause of amusement for me.

    There are many beautiful places in this country to give your money to, support those who would welcome GLBTQ couples and help provide them with a day of celebration. Don’t support those who would discriminate against you. Simple as that.

  13. @Valsky

    Well said and a very good point!

  14. These people have already had an assurance; whay are they harping on? They are just trying to throw a spanner in the works of equality.

  15. The Christian Institute and Christian Concern are fundamentalist evangelical christianist organisations.
    They are perfectly aware that churches will not be forced to provide same sex marriage services but they see this as an opportunity to scaremonger and to get attention.

    These are the types of evangelical christianist zealots who laid the anti-gay groundwork for the holocaust conditions that gay and lesbian men & women must endure in Uganda presently.

  16. Mihangel apYrs 17 Feb 2011, 3:00pm

    if religions don’t have to marry people then they have no need to comment on CIVIL marriage.

    And any issues with benefits fpr gay-marrieds working for them should be treated like their other whitterings about the laws applications

  17. Dan Filson 17 Feb 2011, 3:11pm

    In reality, this approach is the only one that can work. There is a conflict between faiths and gay rights, and in the final analysis if a faith or denomination of a faith finds gay partnerships abhorrent it would be quite wrong to force them to conduct gay marriage ceremonies under their roofs.

    However, this should focus minds on whether such a faith or denomination of a faith is worth supporting and whether the faith or denomination of a faith should continue to receive charitable tax exemptions if a part of the public is excluded from being able to access the services. Render unto Caesar etc.

    I concur with theotherone’s comment – essentially, why be married in a place that hates you.

  18. Dr Robin Guthrie 17 Feb 2011, 3:16pm

    Daily Wail stirring it up again.

    As usual gay marriage in “quotes” as if it is such an alien concept.

  19. I think this proposed is well balanced! I wouldn’t want a religious civil wedding…but then again am an atheist. I just wished they get on with it and make this (law) a reality sooner rather than later!!
    At this pace not even in 2020…lol
    In ther countries it took very little more than a few months (ie:Portugal. law proposed in Parliament in January 2010 and rectified by Presidential apporval on May 17th 2010. The law come into force on June 07th 2010!

  20. Peter & Michael 17 Feb 2011, 3:45pm

    So, Same-sex marriage not for few a years yet? Anything to placate the religious right, equality in Love is a fundamental right in a civilised society.

  21. @Dr Robin Guthrie

    Thanks for the following link to the DailyMail musings on this issue

    . . . . . . . . . .

    The following quote from the article caught my eye . . .

    “However, leading Christian groups, including Affinity, The Christian Institute, Christian Concern, Reform and the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, issued a joint statement warning the change will bring the Government into conflict with thousands of evangelical churches, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.”

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Interesting how the Daily Mail refer to the following groups as leading Christian groups: Affinity, The Christian Institute, Christian Concern, Reform and the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches . . .

    These are finge Christian groups, not leading Christian groups.

    Any one who spends a few moments browsing the Christain Institues website, will realise they are an extremist Fundamentalist Christian organisation; with a slick PR machine.

  22. It truly saddens me that this change in policy has resulted in some religious organisations feeling the need to protest. These organisations should be doing all they can to support people forming strong relationships not preventing them.

    The majority of lesbians and gay men will have no interest in any religious content during their union. When surveyed only 39% of gay men expressed that they have a religious belief. So allowing lesbians and gay men to hold their union – whether a civil partnership or (hopefully one day) a marriage – in a religious building or to have any religious content is not a matter of “gay rights” but a matter of religious freedom. A freedom that has to extend to everyone in the UK. A freedom that the very same organisations that are now decrying this move have attempted to claim when choosing to discriminate against lesbians and gay men. This is nothing short of hypocrisy.

    If anyone wants to read it, I’ve aired my feelings in a longer piece about this on our blog at

  23. It is interesting how the DailMail are giving publicity to an extremist fundamentalist Christian organisation.

  24. The difficult balancing act between church and state. But overall, I’m really impressed by the progress that is being made on this issue. And it’s a fantastic example to have a trans-woman as the country’s Equality minister. Although it may been initially considered to be tokenistic, she has proven herself to be an entirely capable and effective politician. A great role model for the LGBT population. Go Lynne!

  25. “Christians will need a great deal of reassurance that the government is not about to do something that will make their situation even worse”

    If a measure is proposed to achieve equality and liberty amongst people, surely regarding your ‘situation’ as being made worse by it must mean your ideal ‘situation’ thrives on the opposite. Am I wrong in thinking that the opposite of equlity and liberty is inequality and oppression?

    Following on from that, what they’re basically saying is, ‘you have to reassure us your measure won’t infringe on our right to treat people badly because of our beliefs’.

    Luckily for them, the law won’t force anyone to do anything. They can refuse if they like, mean-spirited though it might be, and I grudgingly accept that it’s right that they shouldn’t be forced. After all, my gripe was with the fact that we didn’t have access to ‘marriage’ generally not that some religious places didn’t let us have ceremonies. Churches turn people away for all sorts of unpleasant, antiquated, bigoted reasons and it doesn’t stop them getting married elsewhere. So the religious nutjobs can rest easy.

    It would just be nice if they stopped being so damned hateful that’s all.

  26. Lee Stewart 17 Feb 2011, 5:02pm

    This NOT good enough! Until a fully accepted Christian marriage or Civil marriage is totally legal,then & only then are all men & women truly equal!
    One church who WILL be all for what ever is decided is the MCC(Metropolitan Community Church); it a church for the LGBT community,several are in London, as well as other locations in the UK & also the US & other countries.They tend to follow the Anglican style of service & their Priests & Ministers are all Gay,so they understand.
    In addition to this,I am a minister who happy to conduct any service in any location,so if you are interested,email

  27. Helen Wilson 17 Feb 2011, 5:46pm

    Video footage of a recent Christian Institute meeting has emerged:

  28. Consultations rarely achieve anything useful, and are never appropriate in equality matters. You only need look at Proposition 8 in California to see the potential damage caused by putting an equality issue up for debate.

  29. Har Davids 17 Feb 2011, 6:00pm

    They could take Holland as an example; the only marriage that’s official is the civil one. If you want to have some extra ceremony, religious or otherwise, it’s all up to the people involved. And who wants to be married by someone who disapproves of you?

  30. the only marriage that’s official is the civil one

    That’s been the case in France since the Revolution, hasn’t it?

  31. So when will Theresa May the Home Secretary demonstrate that she is oin the right side of history and throw her suopport behind marriage equality.

  32. Andrew Shields 17 Feb 2011, 8:22pm

    Is Ben Summerskill really questioning the government’s commitment to gay marriage? Hmph

  33. Fine, make the churches pay tax and they can do what they like, just as though it is a private club, which in essence they are.

    Nobody in their right mind would want to force a gay wedding on an unwilling church anyway.

    This is all about un-banning something, not making it compulsory.

    At the moment only religious groups are bearing the brunt of this law not atheists. Religious groups who want to be able to marry their gay congregations as they see fit.

    So we actually have one religious wing banning another religious wing from acting as they see fit. Basically another religious disagreement.

  34. Gosh how many times do they have to be told!!! They’re like a broken record…

    Religious freedom goes both ways, the Quakers etc want to do this and they too should have their freedom just like them, why should they be bullied by the big churches!

    I suspect the only people who will be wanting to do “gay” marriages are the liberal vicars within their own ranks….I strongly suspect the bishops don’t speak for the majority within the church or those sitting in the pews…this is what they are afraid of, dissent within their own church!!!!

  35. Once again this is pointless. It’s good people get the option but churches wil for most part say no so it makes no real difference till religion wakes up.

    So why the hold up on civil state marriage ? Seems the govt ain’t in that much of a hurry for equality. Consultation ays it all. They want to ask religious haters how gay marriage will make them feel. When it’s nothing to do with marriage or them. It’s our right yet it needs consultation.

    Says it all.

    Political spin

  36. Comment sense prevails at last. Hallelujah, Praise The Lord!

  37. thats fine with me also. Let them be bigots if they wish. In the end they will change or preach to the dust in the pews and the dust of their departed.

    And as we said of a trator long long ago, they will be “unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

    BTW that traitor was benedict arnold, who I think spyed for the british during the American revolutionary war. Not that I have anything against GB, in fact I have more respect for them with their progress re equality for gay issues, hetn the Homophobic Hate States of America. Shame on us. We should have stayed British.

  38. The Christian whiners whine again. Sri, but you can do what you want in your church.

    How would you like it if I put a sign in my store – No (fill in the blank) allowed here, and christians need not apply for employement.

    Get the F… off your high horse.

  39. WE STILL DON”T KNOW WHEN THE CONSULTATION OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY WILL TAKE PLACE!!!! The May consultation is only on religious CPs!!!!

    as Lynne Featherstone says these are BABY STEPS!!!!!!! and they will take however long they want!!!!!!! and that is very, very annoying!!!!

    “As a separate stream of activity, the Government was committing to a review of further possible changes to the law to bring civil partnerships and civil marriage more closely in line with each other.

    Ms Featherstone emphasised that this was a matter of “early days and baby steps”. There was as yet no defined plan of activity, but the Government would consult very broadly and very carefully before proceeding further.

    There would be detailed consultations with representatives of all the religious faiths, as well as with all other interested parties. If suggested changes to the civil arrangements impinged on the law relating to marriage in the Church of England, that would have to be taken into account.

    This announcement, said the Minister, was simply a commitment to look further at the relevant issues, which were complex. The consultations were not working to any deadline, and would be allowed to take “whatever time it takes”.

  40. If they are benefiting from tax exemptions then they they have responsibilities, its time to recind the tax benefits they have – why should we fund their lifestyle choice if they wont support our genetic predisposition?
    these are not christians, jesus accepted all at his table

  41. It’s not just their tax benefits , why should they still be part of government? They still sit in the house of lords and oppose the equality agenda and the Queen is still head of the church and govt…

    It’s a pretty archaic type of system isn’t it for a so-called modern , democratic country…

    Of course I’m still not convinced democracy is live and kicking in the CofE….what exactly are the parishers views on gay marriage…they’re too scared to find out!

  42. Will the equality pledge make it or face the chop? The education pledge gone to the wall… The pointless consultation spin that “will take time” … coalition … playing … church… the bible … gambling on patience …. and taxpayers money. Lynne still has an income next month … but many don’t… tic tac

  43. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2011, 8:28am

    It’s laughable on some media comment sites, how religions being given the choose equats to them being forced.

    How thick are these people?

    Lets face it the Christian/Muslim groups bitterly complaining about giving religious ceremonies are just being selfish in wanting to deny all those groups who are open minded and open armed in support. This has nothing to do with them because they already stated their position which is hardly surprising.

    They may feel they have the right to discriminate and stay back in the 18th Century but they do Not have the right to stop those who wish to help Gays/Lesbians commit to the live they want.

    I will add that I doubt any of these morons on comment pages realise that this Bill was brought by a Muslim peer.

  44. I wonder how they going to disentangle civil marriages from cps in clause 11 (schedule 2) of the registered premises regulations – it covers both at the moment, a bit messy…slightly annoyed still about being told about hymns, symbols etc for the last yr or so and they still haven’t worked out what to put in this clause 11!!

  45. Oh yes, UnChristian Institute – suing and compulsion is so definitely going to be the next step, isn’t it? I mean just look at the number of divorcees suing churches that refuse to marry them, and just see how quickly the Gov leapt in to make marrying divorcees compulsory. Not to mention all the various religions who don’t have the right to marry in other people’s churches, mosques etc. Yep, all suing, aren’t they? *rolls eyes*

    Looks like the only people whining and fussing are idiots.

  46. Christine Beckett 18 Feb 2011, 9:12am

    @Helen Wilson



  47. @ Jock S.Trap
    “It’s laughable on some media comment sites, how religions being given the choose equats to them being forced.

    How thick are these people?”

    The disingenuous act obviously suits the purposes of religious spokespersons, devious although a lack of intelligence has to be factored in there as well, certainly a zero capacity for critical thinking or for self-examination among the sheeple.

    Almost always in denial, religious homophobes expect gay men and lesbian women to adapt in order to
    to make the homophobes feel more comfortable, they would do better to consider the more achievable and sensible solution which would be to wake up to their own condition and to change themselves.
    All phobias can be cured or lessened it’s easier and more acheivableand civil than trying uselessly to change, negate or kill every gay/lesbian person you might meet.
    Disingenuous? stupid? both of these?

  48. Richard Kay 18 Feb 2011, 6:32pm

    Pity about the end of tolerance of others, in the name of claimed equality. I don’t have a problem either with humanist organisations or quakers or other faith groups who want to marry gays (by being in a community position to oversee more than the minimum legal status making a civil ceremony into a marriage) or the state performing the minimum legal requirements i.e. a civil ceremony for heteros or gays.

    But the end of tolerance by those who want to coerce faith groups, marriage registrars or providers of lodgings holding views they disagree with in the claimed name of “equality” disappoints me.

    Tolerance, as many seem to have forgotten about this long and politically fruitful tradition, started being about preventing people from killing each other over minor differences in belief, and ended with inclusion into society of all groups whose existence were not harming others including gays.

    All well and good. But alas we have to consider tolerance as being over once people are no longer free to believe what they believe in public. Starting another unwelcome round of holy wars by disposing of the idea of tolerance and suppressing public expression of beliefs you disagree with in the claimed name of “equality” seems a likely outcome.

    This agenda certainly wouldn’t be the first to suppress the Church in the name of claimed equality – the Russian revolution attempted this in 1917 and martyred very many decent and honest people and destroyed many beautiful buildings in the attempt, but I’m glad to say the Church in Russia is healthier and has higher attendance than ever, partly as a consequence of the witness of her martyrs.

    So tolerance beats equality every time in my book as it doesn’t have the bare-faced arrogance to tell other people what they are allowed to believe in public.

  49. …tell other people what they are allowed to believe in public???
    you mean believing you’re confused?

  50. Letters to the Editor
    Sir, Churches should not be compelled to carry out gay marriages (report Feb 12). They should, however, be delighted to do so.
    Any ceremony that celebrates and affirms the life-long committment of two people is surely to be welcomed.

  51. Richard Kay wrote

    “So tolerance beats equality every time in my book as it doesn’t have the bare-faced arrogance to tell other people what they are allowed to believe in public.”

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Richard it’s curious that you see equality as some form of thought police?

  52. @Richard Kay . . . . I was wondering which Faith group you belong to?

  53. Church times 18th Feb poll

    Should civil-partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples take place in church? The results were:
    Yes 55%
    No 44%

    Total : 305

    55% that’s pretty good going considering the audience of this paper is the church and we are all supposed to think the no-one want relgious CP in the church…

  54. @John . . . Interesting statistic

    Thanks for that. . .

    Presumably the 44% comprised the Evangelical wing of the Church

  55. @Richard Kay — “So tolerance beats equality every time in my book as it doesn’t have the bare-faced arrogance to tell other people what they are allowed to believe in public.”

    Really ? Tolerance is a fair and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions differ from one’s own. It is not about meekly acquiescing to actions that discriminate or adversely affect one’s self. Some actions are unacceptable and unfair, and there is no justification for them based on their motivation. You talk about ‘belief in public’ as though religious belief is an reasonable justification for abhorrent action. It isn’t.

    The Russian Orthodox Church supported the White Army in the Russian Civil War after the October Revolution. Do you think this may have further strengthened the Bolshevik animus against them ?

  56. More Ann Atkin hyporcrisy

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Commenting on the goverments plans to remove the religious ban on civil partnerships, Ann Atkins wrting in the Express; refers to this as being against freethinking

    Ann Atkins supports the Gay Cure charity True freedom trust, when ever did a free thinker support a religous group; who aims to cure gays

  57. Kuduku Project 20 Feb 2011, 4:02pm

    I am just wondering what will happen if some priests decided not to allow marriages for black people for example base on their racial diferences. Would them be sued for racial discimination?Probably it would be huge protests and they would be sued for being racist inmediately !!.
    If there is a new law that allows gay people to have the same rights than others and access to religious ceremony like everyone else, why there should be exceptions with some priests?

    Are discriminations based on race more important than the ones base on sexual preferences?

  58. There is no need for religious ministers to be forced to conduct these ceremonies, so it is right that they have the protection from the law from lawsuits – and Lynne Featherstone making that clear helps our cause more that it helps the vindictive groups such as the Christian Institute.

    To compare a religious ceremony to the provision of good and services is a little tacky and most religious ministers will require the couples they marry to be actively involved in their religion, often asking them to come to services or pre-marriage counselling sessions prior to the wedding. As stated, this is a move for the religious organisations that wish to carry out these ceremonies.

    Personally, I am an atheist and would not wish a religious ceremony. However, I would quite a secular Humanist ceremony, a movement which would also benefit from this move.

  59. Lynne Featherstone said that new provisions in the Equality Act “explicitly” say that faiths have the right to reject gay couples.

    If thats so, why was the hotel sued for refusing to have a couple stay?

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