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Comment: Opposing gay state marriages while accepting straight ones is repugnant, and it does faiths no good

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  1. Your opening statement makes it clear that you don’t have a clue – History teaches us that “separate but equal” never is, and the newly created entity is ALWAYS viewed as inferior.

    Your church is – and should be – free to decide who it will or will not marry. But it is NOT free to control marriage because it is and has only ever been a mechanism of civil law. Everything else is a frippery, only of relevance to participants, and meaningless in a debate about the secular law of the land.

    If you don’t want to marry. Don’t. But you don’t get to invoke dogma to take away the choices of others – especially given that the dogma is not universally accepted or agreed upon.

    The rest of your argument – who cares? Argue up and down the assumed wishes of your unprovable entity all you like. It is only of relevance to YOU.

    1. A largely hit and miss article. It hits the mark exposing the hypocrisy of the churches in their claim that civil and “religious” marriage are the same thing, but misses widely on the “why” of marriage versus civil partnership. Equality. Just one word. No more, no less. That is why there are so many people who have the opportunity for civil partnership but are denied marriage (and vice versa) want marriage equality. If there are two systems which are to all intents and purpose equal and everyone has equal access to them, then that is equality. If some are barred simply because of the gender of the people entering into the contract, that is discrimination. Discrimination on basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on basis of gender.

      1. A Catholic Church is within its rights to turn away people who are not Catholics, as is a synagogue, mosque or whatever. If you don’t meet the religious criteria, they can refuse. Indeed, the author mentions that as a divorcee she is barred from re-marriage in church. There is one reason and one alone that leads religious institutions to oppose marriage equality outside of their control – bigotry. Look at the denominations opposing (in contrast to religions supporting) marriage equality and you’ll see it’s not homophobia and you’ll see that their record on equality is pretty poor all round. Don’t want to be equal? Want to support a bigoted regime by attending mass, even though (as she complains) they don’t recognise her divorce? Go ahead. Be oppressed if that’s what you want. There are those of us who are not so masochistic.

        1. uh-huh. Think that’s sort of what i was saying: that historically church has agreed to “render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s” and civil marriage clearly is one of those things. Therefore the church has no business intervening in THIS debate – or if it does wish to get into the marriage debate, it ought to be having a pop at ALL civil ceremonies, straight and gay.

          jane x

    2. Might be worth reading what i wrote, since you seem mostly to be having an argument with yourself here. Or is it simply that you ONLY read the opening statement?

      jane x

      1. Opening statements in journalism are quite important, Jane.

        1. yep. But this was comment piece and therefore i went for a more discursive style. And while i agree with your riposte, i still get the impression that some of those commenting here haven’t got that i am in favour of SS marriage (both state and religious)…and that the consultation – let alone proposed legislation is not giving peeps anything like all of what they would like.

          Basically, i suspect not all have read the consultation: and some maybe haven’t got beyond my opening par.

          jane x

      2. Oh, I read it. And I say again – the babbling of the church, any church, is meaningless and irrelevant to the debate. It only matters if everyone is a member of the same church and – happily – churches are dying out, not adding people by the million.

        Look. Some churches embrace the idea of performing a same sex marriage, have their doors open already and speak out on behalf of LGBT people (Quakers, Reform Judaism). Some do not. The onus is therefore on LGBT people not to actively collaborate in their own oppression, remove themselves from pews, remove their cash from collection plates and seek some an organisation that doesn’t see them as inferior. Religion, faith and denomination are ALL choices and religious exemptions are well understood in law.

      3. Now, if a movement begins to force a church to change – and that is sufficient to tip, say the Lord Spiritual to vote against them (this is already likely, what you want would make it certain) then you slow down/scupper the change in the law based on YOUR religion.

        That will be the fault of that movement, and I am going to blame them long and hard for what they have done. The law must change FIRST. As I said, the rest is meaningless frippery, only of relevance to participants and not worthy of grinding change to a halt.

        Churches are not democracies. But they do have a business aspect. So take away your money and your custom and they may change. Sit quietly at the back of the bus (a place religion is working hard to keep us) and whine about how unfair it is and you achieve exactly nothing.

        And yes your entire opening was nonsense. Which rather contaminated anything else that you were going to say because it screams out loud “I don’t know what I’m bloody talking about).

  2. The churches whole argument is based on hypocrisy. They claim SSM will damage the institution of marriage, yet say nothing about divorce. The reason? Because to actually stand by their proper opinion would lose them more support than it would gain.

    These organisations would campaign for homosexuality to be recriminalised if they could get away with it(including Mr O’Brien and Mr Sentamu) despite their claims of support for CP’s. Which can clearly be shown to be BS

    1. Wanda Sykes summed it up perfectly. If people are worried about protecting marriage, outlaw divorce. Yet we find that, often, those who are most vociferous at proclaiming their wish to “protect” marriage are on their second or more run at it.

  3. I’m always a bit confused at why people so vociferously defend the right of religious groups to refuse same-sex couples. I am not allowed to provide a service to the public but then turn people away on the basis of their gender or sexuality, regardless of my religious beliefs. Nobody would suggest that this curtails my ‘religious freedom’, so why would it be so unthinkable to require religious organisations to follow the same anti-discrimination laws as the rest of us?

    1. Precisely. Exactly. Spot on.

      Being “religious” in character does not make you special. Churches must be compelled – forced if necessary – to offer same-sex marriage if they’re in the business of offering marriage at all. As I never tire of reminding people, the florist isn’t allowed to discriminate, the caterers aren’t allowed to discriminate, the limo hire firm and the jeweller who makes the rings and the people who rent out the venue for the reception aren’t allowed to discriminate. Nor is a civil registrar offering the same service. Being institutionally bigoted is NOT A GOOD REASON to be allowed an exemption from discrimination law.

  4. I have to admit I do not get, why you do not ‘get’ that LGBT people want marriage!

    1. Ditto. A rambling article.

    2. no…i get that a large number of LGBT folk want it. What i don’t get is why it seems to sit ahead of other issues at present…though in part that may have something to do with the closing date for the HO consultation.

      Though that doesn’t mean i’m arguing against it…

      This evening i had dinner with my brother and his partner…both guys. Brother took the same line as many on here…that it IS an important issue. His partner managed to take the diametrically opposed view: that since the differences in law are very slender, he really couldn’t be that bothered.

      Their take – albeit they are from New Zealand – is that a similar split exists amongst their LGBT friends…

      jane x

      1. Hi Jane

        For me, it is an important issue.

        However, I would hope like myself as a gay man, legislators and influencers were able to multi task and deal with more than one issue at a time.

        I think the priority issue is a bit of a red herring personally.

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Jun 2012, 1:48pm

          Totally agree, it is a red herring. You know, even if there were no economic problems and unemployment were low in the UK, it would still not be a priority to the opponents. They’d find an excuse to justify it as not important.

      2. Jane – might I explain why this is THE priority. The law exerts a powerful influence over the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of people. The ‘separate but equal’ treatment of gay people enshrined in current British Law tips the wink towards homophobia, homophobic violence and bullying in schools and beyond. Removing this inequality will make an enormous contribution to eradicating these things; leaving it in place makes the struggle needlessly hard. This is what it’s about, pure and simple. That’s why it sits ahead of other issues, at least in terms of LGBT people.

      3. Jane what does being from New Zealand have to do with your point.

        To start, large sections of the New Zealand public now regard their civil unions legislation as inadequate and unfair. There is swelling support to get the issue before parliament as a private members bill and even the countries right wing PM is indicating support.

        It seems that your brothers partner may be just less informed than your brother about the differences between civil union and marriage laws not to mention the fundamental unfairness of separate but supposedly equal. Maybe also yourself need to be a bit more versed before writing the article that you have ?

        Incidentally – please name what other issues you consider marriage equality is “sitting in front off”. Also why you are more qualified to decide what issues affecting my life are more important than your apparent agenda ?

        1. I mentioned the NZ thing because fairly obviously, as i am NOT from NZ, they know more about the law in their own country than i do, and therefore there may be a perspective there that i am wholly missing.

          Its a cautionary note on my part: owning to a space where i know that i don’t know.

          jane x

      4. Your brother’s partner was probably just being polite.

      5. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Jun 2012, 2:34pm

        Not being bothered or (selfish, irresponsible complacency in my view) also doesn’t mean we should not have the choice to marry and is no reason to oppose it for those who are indifferent and even for those who oppose it. Our marrying doesn’t affect anyone else’s marriage or ability to marry or even procreate. It changes NOTHING. It only affects gay people, NOBODY else.

        In the state of Massachusetts in the United States, since equal marriage was introduced in 2004, the marriage rates are higher than in any other state and divorce rates are among the lowest, if not, lowest in the entire nation.

      6. Jane, maybe when you were happily married if you were suddenly told that your marriage was invalid outside of the UK or that to take your new husbands name you had to change your name by deed poll you would see why we want marriage equality.
        Yes the differences may be small, there should be no difference at all

  5. GulliverUK 18 Jun 2012, 8:26pm

    I’m glad most people are confused – add me to the list to.

    A civil marriage is one conducted in a secular (thus far) fashion, usually in a registry office. A religious marriage is just a civil marriage done in a church, with a rite / ceremony. At the end of the day if you don’t sign the ‘marriage register’ whether in a registry office, or in the vestry after your religious ceremony, you aren’t married.

    So, the only difference between the two is that one has a religious ceremony, but the end result, the signing of the register, and having the state recognise your ‘civil’ marriage, is identical.

    As for the author I just feel they haven’t seen that huge numbers of gay people see this as wanted, and important, because it signals equality. Even if we don’t get married we should have the option to, otherwise it’s simply discrimination.

    1. but a religious marriage is not on offer: the point i am making is that if the state was trying to force churches to accept same-sex religious marriage, then the churches would have something to beef about.

      But the state is not. Therefore, much of the church worry dance on this issue is just….we-ell…either disingenuous or hypocritical.

      jane x

      1. Should have made yourself clear in your article, then

      2. The Church would be out of order complaining even if the law WAS going to allow religious marriage for same-sex relationships.

        I for one hope they go all the way, like Denmark just have.

        How dare the law and how the dare the Church deny religious gay people the opportunity to marry in a religious ceremony, which might be very important to them and their beliefs.

        The law can’t, with one hand, acknowledge that gay relationships are ‘good’ enough for marriage…but then with the other keep a law that makes a religious marriage illegal for those same people. That’s an affront to religious freedom.

        1. If the religious ceremony was important to them and their beliefs, they wouldn’t get married in a state-imposed religious ceremony BECAUSE such a ceremony would have no religious validity.

          On this i do believe in separation of shurch and state. I am in favour of religious SS marriage…which is certainly a step beyond where the current consultation goes: but i also do not think it is for the state to impose this.

          jane x

  6. I can’t claim to speak for anyone but myself, but in my opinion the most important reason to fight for marriage equality is not that it would enshrine this fundamental cultural and social equality in the law of the land, but that it would be a powerful statement to the churches that their brand of bigotry is no longer acceptable, and they must be compelled to change. The conceited arrogance of the professionally religious must be challenged and broken, and religious sentiment erased utterly from public business. Only when religion is treated as any other private hobby and has no special public respect or influence will the battle for equality be truly won, and same sex marriage is the premier battleground of the moment.

    We fight not only for ourselves but for all the oppressed women who slave under catholic and anglican misogyny, the raped children who the priests molested, and the future freedom from the foul excrescences of irrational, patriarchal, medieval nonsense.

    1. well, its a point of view: but in that case, this consultation won’t get you very far, because religious marriage is very specifically ruled out in advance by the government.

      jane x

      1. Yes, but once we have same-sex civil marriage we can move on to the next step – repealing this illegal attempt to give religions a special exemption and forcing the churches to abide by the equality provisions too. Probably by taking the government to the European Court of Human Rights over it.

        The religious groups fear this, and they are right to. Any attempt our government makes to shore up the disgusting special privilege of religions to enact their bigotry is contrary to the universal human rights laws we are signed up to. There will be challenges, and those challenges will be successful. The governent only holds out like this as a cynical strategy to keep as much of the traditionalistic religious bigot vote as it can.

  7. When is the church and religion going to get it.

    Adam and Eve. Adam was betrayed by Eve with an apple. That is why we have Adam and Steve.

    So same sex marriages are much going to be better than heterosexual ones. You watch.

    Religions must be stopped in deciding how the world should be defined and lived.

  8. Robert in S. Kensington 18 Jun 2012, 10:11pm

    Jane Fae obviously doesn’t see the larger picture and cannot think outside the box. Try taking a British CP outside of the UK and she’ll find out how unequal and unrecognised they are. At least we have eleven countries with equal marriage. We only have two with CPs, and even the second, Ireland, isn’t entirely in sync with the UK version. If they are so equal, why aren’t more countries demanding them? The fact of the matter is, they’re NOT. End of!

    1. if you look at the consultation, you will see that an issue up for discussion is also going to be the extent to which other countries are prepared to recognse a same-sex marriage. It is possible that the take-up will be greater than for CP’s…but i am not optimistic.

      jane x

      1. Jane I get the feeling by the way you write that in fact you are not a very optimistic person by nature.

        If increasing numbers of countries adopt policies of civil marriage equality then in terms of international law, those countries that don’t adopt marriage equality are identified for what they are – namely discriminating based on sexual orientation. This is increasingly not a tenable position for secular democracies built on human rights principles as opposed to religious imposed principles.

      2. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Jun 2012, 2:00pm

        CPs are NEVER going to be the universal standard for gay couples. If they were, we wouldn’t have eleven countries with equal marriage and that trend will continue grow at a fast rate.

        France is expected to hold its first gay weddings in the Spring according to the latest report. A bill is expected to be introduced this year and expected to pass comfortably since the socialists now have a clear mandate and do not require other parties to vote with them, least of all the conservatives..

        CPs will NEVER receive universal recognition. They are unworkable outside the UK and definitely unworkable for any straight couple who might contemplating one if available. You have to look at the varying degrees or rights conferred in the mish-mash of legal unions for gay couples in the EU alone. None are identical and never will be. Portability is a big issue and as more countries bring in equal marriage, the desire for CPs, PACs, and all of the other unions will diminish.

    2. Quite agree, Robert

  9. Maybe peeps are missing the point here in what i wrote.

    I don’t get especially excited by the demand because i am very focussed on the legal aspects and the change is not legally great. But, as i say in the piece, that does not bring me to the conclusion that there should NOT be gay marriage: quite the opposite.

    So anyone posting here on the basis that they think i’m opposed, please pipe down. I’m not.

    In a sense, this is a piece that doesn’t belong. Because while it is published HERE, in an LGBT space, it is an attempt to take on some of the church argument on its own terms. Cause yes: i have previously written in favour of LGBT issues in the Catholic Press.

    jane x

    1. Jane sorry I can only consider that you are in la la land by your statement that : “I don’t get especially excited by the demand because i am very focussed on the legal aspects and the change is not legally great”.

      Looking at only one legal aspect and that is EU Freedom of Movement legislation – a UK marriage certificate is going to give GLBT Brits in relationships with a non EU citizen a lot more protections when taking up Freedom of Movement Rights throughout Europe than a British Civil Union.

      Jane explain to me how the legal change would not be great in introducing marriage equality?

      1. The legal change would not be great because the consultation doc says as much.

        The travel thing is not necessarily going to work out as well as you hope, because at the end of the day, if you are abroad, you are subject to what other countries say, law-wise…and those that refuse to accept the legitimacy of a CP may just as easily say the same to a same-sex marriage. Again, an issue that is raised within the consultation.

        jane x

        1. Jane you are incredible – you say you are focused on the legal aspects and yet you demonstrate no understanding of law. Further clearly you are totally ignorant to EU law – whicj is shameful giving you are living in a EU country.

          What trumps other EU countries laws ? Answer – EU regulations. For example, if your brother with his New Zealand partner have a marriage certificate and want to move to Italy – the Italian Courts have ruled that the Italian State must issue a EU Family permit to the spouse of EU citizens (your brothers partner). Even though Italy does not have any same sex relationship recognition legislation. That is because EU regulations are stronger that Italian domestic law when it comes to EU regulations and European citizens rights.

          So basically your response above is based on your ignorance.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Jun 2012, 2:27pm

      It matters not if you view the change as not being legally great. In a democracy, you can’t have one minority group of people with similar rights under a different name. Try doing that to an ethnic group and I think you’ll understand why the change IS legally great and necessary. If CPs are construed by those in opposition as equal to marriage, a convenient excuse not to introduce equal marriage even among those who do not even believe CPs should exist for gay couples, ask any of them if they would consider such a union instead of marriage and I bet you they couldn’t even provide you with one rational, logical answer. What if marriage were replaced with CPs for everyone assuming that they are equal to marriage, do you really think the majority of heterosexuals wouldn’t protest or reject them if the change weren’t so great? It’s not a question of semantics either, far from it.

      1. yeah…but personally, i’d happily replace state marriage with CP’s for all. :)

        jane x

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Jun 2012, 4:34pm

          Not going to happen! At least there are 11 countries now with equal marriage, and that will keep on growing. All of them recognise same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. There is no way CPs will reach that level, in fact they’ll diminish because of the lack of portability and the fact that not many straights in the UK are demanding them. Only two countries have them and not even they are identical and only available to gay couples.

  10. Time for some editorial control again

  11. An interesting article, but not one intended to question the basis of the Churches’ positions. One really has to consider the Churches’ positions in relation to marriage. They spent a millenium ignoring marriage – why should we accept their claims to proprietorship now?

  12. Anti-gay Christians have failed their Christian religion and they have failed God and the Bible that states, Love one Another and All men were created equal. These anti-gay Christian hate merchants need to be removed from the Christian religion before they destroy the Christian Religion with their hate.

  13. New Aussie 19 Jun 2012, 4:26am

    I prefer the Quaker approach to marriages gay and straight:

    “In the Quaker understanding, the couple marry each other in the sight of God and witnessed by the Meeting. No intermediary performs the ceremony or pronounces the couple to be married. This acknowledges that the process of becoming ‘one flesh’ cannot be created by any outside agency. Neither can it be prevented by anyone. The Lord brings the couple into unity. We onlookers can only recognise and celebrate that this has happened. Our procedures for marriage ‘within the care of the meeting’ are noted from 1688 onwards and reported to the state by Quaker registering officers from 1753. Our 1995 book of discipline is clear that marriage after the manner of Friends is ‘not a mere civil contract but a religious act.’ ”

    It is this approach that led Quakers in the 1990s to start celebrating gay weddings and led them further in 2009 to treat gay and straight weddings the same and campaign for the law to do the same.

  14. I get what you’re saying, Fae.

  15. In some countries, Spain for example, for a marriage tobe legal, it must be conducted in a civil ceremony. Churches may then follow on with whatever additional rite they see fit. It seems to me that this is by far the cleanest and most sensible solution.

    Perhaps it is the lost of revenue and footfall (raison d’être, if you like) that is really behind all this screaming hoohaa.

    Jane’s point about the false tone of the catholics complaints are on the mark. The notion that little is to be gained from equal marriage is well wide of it.

    1. The Netherlands is the same. Dutch Churches can only perform religious marriages that have no legal status at all. Those getting married in a Church also have to attend a civil process at the town hall before hey can be legally recognized as married.

      The Dutch have totally separated the religious from the civil and I think more countries would be better of by also untangled the Churches out of civil marriage. The Churches have gone onto abuse this civil privilege giving to them by the State.

      I agree with your statement of Jane is well off the mark in stating little is to be gained from equal marriage – I in fact find such an argument insulting, arrogant and seemingly founded in the authors confusion, and ignorance.

      1. we-ell, it depends. First off, the precise position in the UK is not a million miles off the Spanish and Dutch positions. A church ceremony is meaningless in law, without the bit where you sign the register, which itself is an intrusion of state into church.

        Second, i didn’t say there is little to be gained from the m-word: i said there is little to be gained in law or spiritually, which i’d still argue as accurate.

        Though i hear the contrary argument here that there is much to be gained politically from it.

        jane x

  16. Jane, it’s terribly big of you not to oppose our equality, but you are missing the point. According to your own writing, you are not discriminated against by the marriage laws of this country. What makes you think that your opinion has any relevance to those of us who are denied legal equality?

    Your comments minimising the discrimination we suffer are all very self-centred. You can’t think of any important rights we are missing, so you dismiss the discrimination as minor. Some of us are concerned about basic fairness and fundamental equality, not just bennies. Some of us are concerned about how our children are treated. Some of us are concerned about how LGBT children are treated. Some of us are concerned about the erosion of parity between CPs and marriage. None of those issues are mentioned in your article or your comments.

    I think you have a problem with your church and you are just using us to vent it.

    Take it somewhere else.

    1. Exactly – well put.

      In reading the article I also felt Jane was wrapped up in here own stuff which she is projecting all over the place.

  17. The article is muddled by the author’s ‘not getting’ lesbian and gay people wanting equal civil marriage, especially thrown in right at the start, but she highlights a radical hypocrisy of the RC and other churches which they are keen to conceal – that marriages without their doctrinal imprimatur are invalid in any case. When my (nominally) Catholic aunt and her atheist left-wing fiancé got a Registry Office wedding in the 1950’s her former parish priest visited them to tell them openly that they must marry again in Church or be considered fornicators. He was told where to go, of course, but I am not aware that this sort of theological position has actually been dropped. Modern rhetoric about the ‘harmony’ between Christian and secular civil concepts of marriage being ‘threatened’ by opening civil marriage to l&g couples is mostly just that – rhetoric, and blatantly dishonest rhetoric at that.

    1. Thank you…. :)

      jane x

  18. “I am not convinced that same sex couples really gain much by being permitted access to state marriage,”

    Sorry, but you need to think about the big picture – what signal the current difference sends out. The context of homophobia and persecution – not just in the UK, but across the whole world – is key in this change in law. It is a global society that decisons like this impact on.

    Sending out the message that gay relationships are equal to straight relationships is a massive, positive statement.

    Why are we even TALKING about religion? Only 4% of the population are churchgoers. Why get bogged down with what ‘traditional’ marriage might mean to those people.

    And for the record, the Bible is not as clear on this issue as some would like you to believe. So there’s no “as it should be” about it.

    Poor article, I’m afraid.

    1. we’re talking about religion because, over the past week, almost every major religious group in the UK, from the CofE to the Catholics and Jewish hierarchy, have come out against the proposed changes to the law, despite the fact that this will not affect them in any real way.

      A major motivation behind writing this piece was to highlight a difference in attitude: how i may not be particularly affected one way or another by how this consultation eventually plays out – but that i DO think the religious approach – which in the end WILL be influential in decisioni-making, is thoroughly hypocritical.

      jane x

      1. Exactly. You’re a tourist with a typewriter.

  19. Must admit after the first rather patronising opening para I gave up reading

    1. I see your point but she makes excellent points about official RC hypocrisy later on.

  20. Pink News – I hope you are not paying this person for this opinion piece ?

    It has to be one of the most lazy and appalling attempts at opinion journalism I have read. A very disappointing standard.

    What makes it even worse is the authors defensive inaccurate ramblings in the comment section.

  21. Love this quote:

    ”In a democratic society, the separation of Church and State is of fundamental importance: freedom of religion means the Church should not be obliged to recognise gay marriage; democracy means that if the public want gay marriage legitimised then it is the responsibility of the State to effect that. Since couples can have a perfectly valid legal marriage without any religious involvement at all there should be no conflict between these two imperatives.”

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