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Home Office Minister Nick Herbert: Churches should be allowed to marry gay couples

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  1. Fantastic to see a government minister taking a strong and moral stand to ensure marriage equality and religious freedom.

    A stand that hopefully will form part of the government bill in parliament.

    A plan that will ensure love, commitment, fidelty and family life are respected fully in society.

    A plan that (along with the Law Society’s view and other senior legal opinion) demonstrates the fallacy of the Church of Englands response to the government consultation.

    A plan that will undoubtedly become law.

    1. Benjamin Cohen 16 Jun 2012, 10:57am

      Totally agree Stu

  2. It’s come to something when it’s a Tory MP defending LGBT people from the Church of England and saying that civil partnerships aren’t good enough.

    Thank you Nick Herbert, I might not agree with your politics but I certainly think that, on this issue, you are doing your party, the Government and this country proud!

    1. I’d qualify that by saving it’s not that Civil Partnerships don’t provide good legal protections and benefits (there are some quirks to be worked out), but that it’s the denial of the option of marriage which is the issue. That’s discriminationm and that IS the issue. In most respects as far as the law is concerned Civil Partnerships are treated as the same as marriage, except for the symbolism of the word used.

      But denying one group, alone, the right to marriage, when the legal protections and benefits they have are so similar, can only be because you want to lesson their status and dignity. Any act of disapproval by how ever many people cannot be used to justify denial, nor can use of the word marriage be denied on the basis that it’s a minority. At 6% (governments own figures, Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009 survey), in sheer number terms we have larger numbers that many other minority groups who already have, and always have had, the right to marry.

      1. In “most respects” being the most important phrase there. There are pension rights, international recognition issues and other more minor quibbles that mean I stand by my “aren’t good enough” on this one.

        Civil partnerships were a fudge, admittedly one that has brought protection and benefits we never had before, but still a fudge.

        1. GulliverUK 16 Jun 2012, 1:38pm

          I’d have agreed with you some time ago, but when I saw that in France their PACS had 120,000 couples and 95% of them were straight, I realised that there are many people who are straight who co-habit and don’t like the word marriage, because of previous close ties to the church, and it’s patriarchal system. It follows, and I’ve seen this, that there are many some gay people who would prefer CPs over marriage — for much the same reason. That’s why we need to keep both, because the historical hijacking of the word by religion has damaged it. Either way, a ban on our right to marry cannot continue, but we should keep both, and open both up to all.

          I would favour one single partnership legislation, and people could choose to call it a Civil Partnership or Marriage at their discretion, based on their likes / dislikes of each term.

          The final bill should remove all barriers to both types, and remove the barrier to religious marriage. That is what the LibDems had wanted.

          1. I’m fully supportive of keeping civil partnerships, there’s no reason to remove them now they are here. I’m simply pointing out that in the current one system for one group, another for another group situation civil partnerships are not good enough.

          2. I believe that the popularity of the PACS has less to do with the fact that it doesn’t have the name “marriage” and more to do with the fact that it brings weaker rights and responsibilities, and is easier to dissolve.

            I agree with you that CPs should be accessible to different-gender couples, but I expect demand for them will be tiny.

            The success of the PACS is an argument for introducing “marriage lite” Domestic Partnerships in the UK for all couples. Many people who are cohabiting do not realise that they have almost no rights at all, and the introduction of DPs would offer greater legal and financial clarity to couples who do not want the extensive interdependency offered by CPs and marriage.

            My preference would be the DIY checklist approach to DPs – a couple check off which rights they want and which not – but almost anything, including a PACS-style fixed list of rights, would be clearer and fairer for cohabitors than the current arrangements.

  3. Thank you for speaking up for equality and basic fairness Nick Herbert.

  4. Jock S. Trap 16 Jun 2012, 11:39am

    He is absolutely correct. Those who wish to should be able to. Enough with this extremist excuse of religious freedoms… what about the Quakers, Liberal & Reform Jews etc religious freedom.

    Thinking about this maybe those Extreme Christians, Catholics etc are a bit worried that if they see accepting religions a lot of their flock would leave the hate for the love religion. Just a thought.

    Either way it wouldn’t do any harm if anything maybe Christian, Catholic etc extremists will have to rethink how they act and discriminate and maybe we’ll see better… I doubt it but you never know!

  5. Suddenly Last Bummer 16 Jun 2012, 12:09pm

    Kudos to Nick.

  6. Absolutely churches who want to should be allowed to host same sex marriages.
    It’s very strange that the Church of England expects to be given assurances that it won’t have to host same sex marriages and also that it cannot be touched by legal action now or at any time in the immediate future.
    Above the law and free to discriminate against same sex couples.
    I think Denmark got it right with their national Lutheran Church providing same sex marriages but allowing individual clergy who object to opt out.
    But the fact that there are numerous Anglican clergy who would be quite willing to hold gay marriages in their churches were they allowed to makes the Anglican stance seem unreasonable and forced.
    Certainly other churches should be allowed to provide gay marriages if they want to and there should be no blanket ban preventing them from doing so.

  7. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Jun 2012, 12:37pm

    Superb and well said, Nick Herbert, and thank you! A Tory who really gets it irrespective of the fact that he happens to be gay.

    I too am sick and tired of being told I have my rights and CPs are sufficient. He echoes what I’ve said before. Hetero’s wouldn’t want to be told they could only have a CP instead of marriage and I think all of us know why. It’s not exactly rocket science unless one is it?

    I’d like to see more Tory MPs speaking out in this manner and hopefully some will as the months pass and they have time to reflect and consider this important piece of legislation, arguably the most important in the history of LGBT rights.

    I think Ben Summerskill needs to become more vociferous and proactive by addressing the recent comments by Andrew Pierce and others. Our opponents are doing all they can to drown out any support and this must not be allowed to happen.

    1. You seriously expect Ben Summerskill to get fully involved in equal marriage?

  8. I don’t know why but it suddently reminded me of someone’s twitter profile;

    “i’m in to gay rights because I’m gay and I like rights”


    Thankfully Nick remembers that whilst he’s a Tory (and they’ve traditionally been opposed to us gays), his sexuality is an important part of him, and of us all, and particularly when you’re constantly reminded you’re rights aren’t yet the same as everybody else.

    I wish more Christians would put their foot down and speak out too. Find the voice and strength to say …. Not In My Name !

      1. Signed!

        Good luck!

  9. And did Mr Herbert have any mention of the fact that apparently over 150 Tory MP’s are neo-fascist homophobic scum who will vote against equality.

    How can he stay in such a bigoted party?

    1. And where are you picking up this 150 figure from. It was around 100 before(allegedly). Care to name them?

    2. By being a larger than life hypocrite, smiling daily to his bigoted colleagues and pretending his choice of politics are anything but honourable …

      1. I meant to say dishonorable.

    3. So it’s 150 now is it? It was 100 before(allegedly). Don’t you see that these 100/150 Tory MPs ready to vote down SSM are just a made up story by the opposition to encourage their support, and dishearten ours

      1. All we need are the Green MP, 90% of Labour MPs and all but 1 or 2 Lib Dems along with 46 Tories (with 60 formally declaring they intend to support) and this passes by majority.

        This will win no problem in the Commons – then the Tories can pick up their disintegrating party afterwards!

    4. Flawed logic, I’m afraid. If Nick Herbert and others left, the party would just become even worse because there would be fewer to challenge the homophobic dinosaurs. We should support his efforts regardless of other issues.

    5. So it’s now, apparently, 150 tory MPs. I believe the previously alleged figure was 100 of them. So do tell, who are these extra 50 MPs. And where did you find out about them?

      1. Its a figure picked out of the air by one of the Tory right wingers at random – it has no basis in fact, every journalist that tries to get them to name them is rebuffed, Its salacious rhetoric.

      2. Apologies for the multiple posts. Had an issue with comments not appearing over the weekend

  10. apparently over 150 Tory MP’s are neo-fascist homophobic scum who will vote against equality.”

    And where are the 150 MPs apparent, cause last time is was 100 apparently?

  11. Kornelijus Norvidas 16 Jun 2012, 3:24pm

    He must be on the Queens Honours list, and not Tony Baldry.

  12. Kornelijus Norvidas 16 Jun 2012, 3:36pm

    he must be on the queens honours list, not tony baldry.

  13. Remember this was the horrible COE that would not even remarry the heir to the throne. Put the boot in Nick!

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Jun 2012, 3:02pm

      Yes, but…they did have a religious blessing in St. George’s chapel which was an exercise in hypocrisy on the part of the CoE cult. It wouldn’t have been accorded the common people I don’t think.

  14. When Tory ministers demand the right to marry their same-sex partners, and to do it in Church, it will happen.
    That’s why there’s so much screaming about it.

  15. I agree, but i dont think they should be forced to. I think only churches that want to do it should be able to, and those who dont want to, shouldnt have to do it (oh god, i’m just gonna prepare myself for the down votes) xx

    1. Why should anyone down vote you? It’s a perfectly obvious position. Churches aren’t being forced to do anything, to marry anyone, and the situation tomorrow would be the same as it’s been for hundreds of years — and yet, no heterosexual couples have taken the church to court, and no gay couples, where marriage is legal, have taken the churches to court.

      Even the CoE said here on PN that the legal protections in place, in case a gay couple wanted a Civil Partnership in their church and they refused, were sufficient.

      If they were selling cookies to the public and they refused to sell cookies to me — I’d sue their arse off, but religion is, still, unique in that we respect views and beliefs which don’t always make any sense in legal terms. We basically accept their right to discriminate, not just against us, but against divorced heterosexual couples, or people who can’t show they are sufficiently religious. The churches that want to should have to option to tho.

      1. Just to add, Civil Partnerships can now be performed on religious premises including churches, in England + Wales (not yet Scotland), and, as I said, the CoE lawyers were happy with the legal protections.

        The only way to perform them is to OPT-IN, i.e. apply to your local council for a license to carry out Civil Partnerships. There was some stink about it a month or two back because some churches were being charged VERY high fees by the local authorities to register their premises — I don’t know what the outcome of it was, the Home Office were going to look in to it. I’d really like to know how that got resolved.

        Long and short of it — if you don’t actively OPT-IN, then you cannot be prosecuted because you don’t offer those services.

  16. Let’s keep the thumbs up for each other, it encourages people to post, but save the thumbs down for homophobic trolls.

    EACH of us is entitled to their opinion, we’re not going to agree on everything, but if you don’t like it say so, rather than thumbs down, which discourages any further posted in some.

    It’s just a thought.

    As a gay man thumbs up encourage me to come back, whilst thumbs down makes me click off the site and think twice before returning. If someone has a problem with anything I say, for goodness sake tell me what and why, so I may learn and better myself.

    Thanks! :)

    1. I hear what you are saying and I do think thumbs up and down encourage and discourage but they are also a kind of barometer of opinion too.

      But returning to the specific issue – if we are to remove all barriers to equality then churches who wish to should be able to engage in marriages of same sex couples.

  17. Great article in Jewish Chronicle on equal marriage:

    “Our traditions and teachings help us interpret the modern world and scientific development and the advances of the enlightenment help us to interpret our tradition and teachings.

    And so it is with gay marriage.

    The more we understand about homosexuality, and about nature, the stronger becomes the civil-rights case for equal treatment of gay people. And the more we understand our own history of oppression, the more obvious it appears that homosexuals have their own terrible history of oppression.

    The idea that gay people are pushy, never satisfied, always wanting more rights looks a particularly warped accusation when seen by Jews. Doesn’t it?”

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