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UK: Culture secretary seeks to reduce religious fears over equal marriage

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  1. “I would not introduce a Bill that would in any way impinge on a church’s power to decide who it marries.”

    Unless the people it wants to marry are gay? Or has the Government moved on from it’s civil marriage only policy?

  2. I think religious organisations should be free to discriminate as they choose – as long as they aren’t getting any tax concessions for providing a public service.

    1. I don’t. Shopkeepers are bound by the equality regulations. They’re not free to discriminate as they choose. Nor are schools, hospitals, employers or any other service providers. Religious groups should be treated no differently – they must be forced to offer their services to anyone or not to offer them at all.

      JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE IS.

    2. Har Davids 9 Nov 2012, 12:27pm

      Churches don’t provide public services, they cater to their own faithful. The UK government should get out of the CofE, leave the church to its own devices and treat it like it treats all organisations with members, rules and regulations. In Holland the only marriage is the civil one, the rest is up to you.

      1. Whereas, interestingly, in Denmark there is again a state church, which was required to create a non-discriminatory marriage service, and have it approved by the relevant government minister, in time for the introduction of equal marriage there. It took literally weeks from parliament passing the marriage law to the first marriages, which were civil ones only because no one had been interested in having one in church. The first church one was then in the largest cathedral.

  3. And when can we expect this Bill to appear before Parliament, Miller?

    Is this yet another delaying tactic?

    If we do not have a specific legislative timetable for equality by Christmas, then we need to face up to the fact that marriage equality will not be achieved during this government.

    And that the Tories never had any intention of introducing it, and that they remain the same bigoted scum they always have been.

    The time for discussion of OVER Miller.

    Get your finger out and start taking action.

    Immediately

    1. Oh, do change the record!

      1) She isn’t reading your comments

      2) Even is she were, she’s not going to pay attention to your bed-tempered mobius strip of “now, now, now, now, do it now or I’ll sulk, now, now…”

      3) I have little time for Tories in general, but childishly shouting “scum!” and “bigot!” says more about your inability to interact with adults than it does about the ongoing political process.

      Switch to decaf, man.

      1. Bad*-tempered, even! :D

      2. Her voting record on LGBT issues proves that she is bigotted scym though.

      3. Can you offer ANY justifiable reason why we are STILL waiting for equality?

        1. Yes, David: it’s called the legislative process. It takes time. Not much time, but longer than you like. Chill, get over it. You and our boyfriend and will be able to tie the knot soon enough.

          And try to keep away from the caps key. It might as well be marked “Press Here to Create Impression of Shrill Whining”

          1. What are you babbling about – the legislative process has not even started on marriage equality?

            Almost 3 years since Cameron pledged to introduce equality.

            I repeat – can you offer any justifiable reason why we are still waiting for equality?

          2. That There Other David 8 Nov 2012, 2:04pm

            The process on this hasn’t even STARTED Sasha!! Where is the government’s timescale, where is the draft bill? So far there’s been nothing other than words, and it’s reached the point where there’s been more than enough waiting.

            Look at France. Six months ago, nothing. Now they’ve already voted on it and looking to bring it in by next Spring. THAT’S how a government should work!! Not dithering and placating a bunch of old fools and their deluded minions who hate us anyway.

          3. David

            Forgive me for not replying underneath your latest rant, but the reply button seems to be missing.

            You are, as a couple of other have pointed out, a very angry young man. Sometimes, this pent-up aggression seems to affect your reasoning.

            That the French system of government moves with greater dispatch than our own is perhaps true: as the church is disestablished there, I’m not surprised that can react more swiftly in this case. I’m not generally in favour of haste, however. I’ve not followed France’s efforts to bring equality to marriage, but as far as I know there has beee no all-party vote to date.

            You believe there has been “more than enough waiting” which is an opinion many will share. I don’t. Hasty legislation-making often results in poorly-worded (and therefore, open to interpretation) Acts.

            While I share your dim view of the religious lot, wishing them away will have no effect.

            Why are you quite so fired up?

          4. You are still avoiding my question.

            Why has the legislative process for marriage equality not even started yet?

            You speak about the process moving ‘slowly’

            Are you trying to deny that there has been zero movement at all?

          5. That There Other David 8 Nov 2012, 4:29pm

            Sasha, I believe you are confusing me with someone else. I’m neither young nor angry, simply tired of the government dragging their feet to oppose those who will never accept us anyway.

            Either they’re going to do this or not. If they are, why aren’t they getting on with it? If they aren’t, why aren’t they being honest about it? At the moment nothing is happening at all.

            As to why I’m getting fired up, maybe I’m justifiably fed up of people who I’ll never meet and who subscribe to a load of bone-shaking nonsense I have no time for being given preference by government over what legal rights I can have. This is not the Middle Ages. The government should grow a pair and tell them where to get off.

          6. That There Other David 8 Nov 2012, 4:29pm

            appease, not oppose.

          7. I think he means kind, sweet, sensitive, gentle me.

          8. That there other David

            Apologies for confusing you with dAVID

            “Either they’re going to do this or not. If they are, why aren’t they getting on with it? If they aren’t, why aren’t they being honest about it? At the moment nothing is happening at all.”

            They are going to do it, they are getting on with it and – insofar as politicians are ever totally truthful – they are being honest about it. The appearance of nothing happening is simply that: an appearance. What did you expect: a daily announcement of how many consultation papers have been collated and how many paragraphs of the draft Bill have been written?

            You mention not bring young (ditto) so you will probably remember the civil partnership legislation also took it’s sweet time (and also started with consultation) – that’s just the way it goes. Indeed, the very pedestrian progress rate is a comforting sign.

            I agree with you re the religious lot. But, as I said before, being annoyed at their existence doesn’t help.

        2. I have answered your question. Consultation is frequently part of the legislative process. So, yes, it has started. (It’s not advanced calculus, Dave.)

          I didn’t speak about it moving slowly, indeed I’ve made it pretty plain that wheels are turning at roughly the usual speed.

          I’m still uncertain why you’re so panicky about the whole thing.

      4. Oh, for the love of…

        David, others might have the patience to indulge you, I don’t.

        Consultation *is* a common constituent of the legislative process. I’m not sure why that comes as a surprise to a seasoned political heavy-puncher like yourself.

        1. Incorrect.

          Never before in Britain has a law-abiding, tax-paying minority’s equal civil rights been subject to a ‘public consultation’.

          It was nothing but a time-wasting exercise inviting bigots/Tories to spew their usual hatred about us.

          We don’t even know when the results of this offensive consultation will be released.

          Cameron is failing miserably to live up to his equality pledges.

          1. Not incorrect, Dave. Were you asleep during the consultation for civil partnerships? I wasn’t, as I recall responding to the thing. (And you can still google it: the document is still out there.)

            Don’t do the Christian Institute thing: making a firm statement based on ignorance.

    2. I think it is YOU who sounds like a bigoted scum to me. Civil marriage WILL happen, I am sure of that. All of the political parties agree.

  4. I do not trust that woman. She may seem to be with us, but she is in this for herself first and then to protect the churches. She is not 100% commited to equality for us. She sees this position as a step up the ladder, and will do and say whatever it takes to climb higher.

    1. Of course she is not with us.

      Look at her atrocious voting record on LGBT issues.

      And now this.

      Hers was a strategic appointment to send a signal to the Tory base that they remain the same poisonously bigoted party they always have been.

      Miller deserves to be sacked.

    2. Well, she’s a politician, so of course she’s in it for herself.

      And, frankly, I don;t give a flying brief sexual relationship what her motives are: she’s here to do a job, she’s doing it, this will happen. She can loathe us with a passion for all I care, the end result is all that matters.

      1. Why are we still waiting for a specific timetable for equality.

        It is beyond acceptable that we still don’t have this.

  5. I agree with what she is saying. There needs to be the protections out there for the faiths which don’t allow same sex marriage. We cannot risk religious officials being forced to marry two people they do not feel comfortable marrying. Our right to marry should not infringe on their right to practice their faith. I can easily see a same sex couple who wish to marry in a particular religious building being denied by the official there on the grounds that they do not believe homosexuality to be compatible with their faith and that couple then taking legal action. However, I think there does need to be some careful discussion on how we can legislate to allow some faiths to perform the union without risking the forcing of others against their will.

    1. “There needs to be the protections out there for the faiths which don’t allow same sex marriage.”

      Why?

    2. Quite right.

      It’s also the best way to keep Joe Public on the right side of the argument. Point to iron-clad safeguards, and the Christian Institute and its C4M sock-puppet lose the feeble argument they offered.

      Of course, the religious nutters will never be happy – but HMG is not interested in their complete satisfaction, so who cares?

    3. Why should people have a “right to practice their faith” here? Practicing their faith in this way breaches human rights and equality law. It discriminates arbitrarily against minorities.

      If their faith insisted that they be allowed to murder who they like, would they get a “right” to practice it then? If their faith insisted that they could steal other people’s property with impunity then would we let them do that? Of course not. So why should they be allowed to breach equality law? Is equality law not important? Is equality law not as valid as all our other laws?

      The law is the law. There should be NO exceptions – least of all exceptions based on a deluded sense of overweening personal entitlement.

  6. I’m a little torn on this. In some ways, I think it’s fine for churches to decide who they want to marry. More and more are willing to marry gay people and hopefully will be permitted to do so, if they wish. This will make those churches that remain just little heterosexual clubs with strange rituals that no-one understands and thinks a little weird. Let them, I say. I know no-one who gives a figs ear what the church says.

    1. Churches must surrender their tax-free status entirely if they want to be allowed to discriiminate.

      Why this Miller bigot is making efforts to protect these tax-free cults is beyond comprehension.

      1. dAVID, so much anger you have within you!

        1. I’m not angry.

          I’m simply truthful.

          Have a look at Maria Miller’s voting record on LGBT issues.

          She is a bigot- unsurprising I suppose. She is a Tory after all.

          1. You constant angry posts do indicate to the contrary!

            I have read her voting record on LGBT issues and when she was first appointed to her new post I was more than cynical (and still am until proven otherwise) about her ability to fulfill it as she should.

            However, as you know, she has made an “out for marriage” video and has spoken in favour of equal marriage. How truthful she is on this remains to be seen. If I were a cynic I would say that she is just towing the party line now she has the responsibilities she has and we have to wait and see how she votes when it does go before Parliament, which I hope will be then next session.

            Out of curiosity, who is your preferred party of choice?

  7. What she needs to introduce is that those religious institutions who do want to marry same sex couples are allowed to do so without suffering repercussions from senior clergy.

    There are many religious folk out there who want to do it they should be allowed to.

  8. For goodness’ sake, just get on with it!

  9. Finally, some sense from the government on the subject of religion and European law.

    The best way for the government to ensure marriage ends up in a divisive ECHR case is to ban religious weddings, as that would be challenged by the Quakers etc. and would very likely be overturned at the ECHR. In the process we’d end up with a lot of nonsense Daily Wail headlines about churches being forced to marry gays.

    Far better to recognise that religious weddings have to be included, and to state explicitly that religions may bar access to rites on the basis of protected characteristics. The ECHR will most certainly respect this principle for reasons that I have enumerated all too often here on PN!

    Whether the government has quite figured this out is unclear, and as Jae says Ms Miller’s comments are inconclusive. But using the language of religious choice rather than “civil marriage” is encouraging that we will get a comprehensive Bill.

    1. Wrong.

      Religions are already exemplt from ECHR rulings.

      Otherwise the catholic church would be spending all its time before the court defending its refusal to remarry divorced catholics

      it’s a timewasting tactic. Nothing more.

      1. thats because the law permits them to bar access to people who don’t fit the criteria they already have the right to discriminate against same sex couples – they have just forgotten about it as they have been marrying divorcees and obvious non virgins for a while.

      2. Atalanta isn’t saying the ECHR would force churches to do something, quite the opposite. He is rightly saying that is religious marriage is banned by the new law then any religion could get an ECHR ruling overturning that ban on the grounds of freedom of religion, to allow them to do same-sex marriages.

        The thing is that, once the UK allows same-sex marriage the exemption in the ECHR allowing states to decide who may marry no longer applies, and it has to be without discrimination. So religious couples must be allowed religious marriages, and churches who wish must be allowed to perform them.

        But an ECHR case means 3 more years of inequality after the law enters into force. The government might think it convenient though to let it be the ECHR that forces the issue.

  10. Their official response will be ” No, we are not redefining marriage, it will cost us too many votes. We shall stick with the perfectly good Civil Partnerships

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 8 Nov 2012, 3:50pm

      If civil partnerships are so perfectly good ask any straight couple if they would consider one instead of marriage, assuming they were available to them. Explain why they’re not that portable outside the UK. If they’re so great, why have 11 countries, in international city (Mexico City) and 9 American states legalised equal civil marriage instead of opting for those perfectly good CPs Only two countries have them, the UK and Eire, the latter with slightly fewer rights. It’s clear you’re incapable of seeing the larger picture.

  11. This article brings nothing new, we already knew that there would be an opt out for religious groups. All thats changed here is that she gave an interview direct to a bigoted newspaper spelling it out loud and clear for them that they, the daily mail and CI were getting their knickers in a twist over nothing

  12. Robert Brown 8 Nov 2012, 3:10pm

    Considering we have a ‘campaigning’ group giving ‘politician of the year’ to a Scottish MSP Tory, I doubt that they’ll take any notice anyway . . .

    The LGBT community as a whole is divided when it comes to a voting bloc and doesn’t really register except in a few places across the UK . . .

    I’ve also said, as have the Liberal Democrats, that it should be a matter for each individual organisation / building to be able to host same sex marriages with the caveat that at least one of their registered religious institutions should host same sex ceremonies.

    In addition, I personally believe that:

    Civil Partnerships = Outing Ourselves
    Marriage = Equality

    http://www.rainbow-citizen.com

  13. Ben Foster 8 Nov 2012, 3:22pm

    When the Race Discrimination Act was being written, did the National Front get reassurances from the government that they would be free to be racists? Tell the religions to sod off.

    1. Hear, hear, Ben.

    2. Absolutely. “Religious conviction” is nothing more than personal opinion. People should not be exempt from any law, especially equality law, simply because they believe strongly that they should be.

      I have a strong belief that I should be exempt from tax law, but nobody seems to agree that therefore I deserve special protections…

  14. This is yet ANOTHER Tory time-wasting exercise.

    There is absolutely zero need to put more religious safeguards in. If the legislation simply states only churches who agree to perform these ceremonies shall do them, then that is an adequate safeguard.

    Don’t believe me?

    Well ask yourself why there has NEVER been legislation to protect the catholic church from the European courts due to their refusal to remarry divorcd catholics?

    There is no safeguard on earth that will make these religions support equality.

    So Miller’s pretence that she is considering safeguards is nothing but further Tory time-wasting.

  15. Robert (Kettering) 8 Nov 2012, 4:23pm

    Tell me, they have full blown Gay Marriage in countries like Spain and Belgium – which are largely Roman Catholic – and as far as I know that church doesn’t offer a ceremony to Gay men and women an there has been NO court cases in Europe to force them do do so either. So why are the churches using that argument here?

    1. The churches are lying when they claim they may be forced to perform weddings.

      The Tories know the churches are lying.

      Yet they are talking about putting safeguards in to protect institutions who will never support our rights.

      Why are the Tories doing this?

      Well it will waste even more time, thereby making it virtually impossible to introduce equality during the lifetime of this government.

      1. Dave North 8 Nov 2012, 5:16pm

        In a way I would prefer if Labour were to introduce this once the Tories get the heave ho.

        At least they would be less likely to fudge the legislation with all this pandering to the god botherers.

        1. the Civil Partnership Act did a lot of pandering to the god Squad.

  16. Considering how slow it is to get legislation enacted in Britain, and considering there will be another election in little over 2 years, David Cameron is running out of time to introduce an equality bill which will be law before the next election.

    If we do not have marriage equality by the next election then it’s clear that the Tories are teh same bigoted scum they have always been.

    1. Here’s a deal: if we don’t get equal marriage by 2015, I’ll agree with you.

      If we do, perhaps you’ll be man enough to retract your unpleasant words?

      I repeat: I have no soft spot for the tories. But it took Labour 7 years to get around to CPs and I don’t recall anyone bellowing insults at them for doing so.

  17. Quite a few people here have (rightly) commented on how annoying people like the Christian Institute are being in this matter.

    Why not tell them directly? Politely but firmly, of course.

    http://www.facebook.com/christianinstitute

    1. Ben Foster 8 Nov 2012, 6:09pm

      because they would just delete it.

      1. Eventually.

  18. It’s a shame that the government is considering capitulating any further to these homophobic, belief-without-evidence, religious groups.
    As the likelihood that there would ever be legal action taken through the ECHR to force churches to provide same sex marriages is zero,this is really just another excuse to object to equality for gays and make a fuss.
    Attempting to pacify these bigots with additional unnecessary “protections” won’t shut them up or stop the manufactured tantrums anyway, they want to find any avenue to object to same sex marriage equality even though they can never be forced by law to provide them, they also hope to block the religious freedoms of other faith groups who wish to provide same sex marriages.

  19. 2010 – Blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… 2011 – blah blah blah… dee blah blah blah… blah blah blah… blah blah blah… dee blah blah blah… blah blah blah… burp… 2012 – blah blah blah… dee blah blah blah… burp burp … excuse me… blah blah blah… dee blah blah blah… fart… blah blah blah…

    1. Never trust a Tory. Especially if you are gay.

  20. Doug Pollard 8 Nov 2012, 7:54pm

    The rules are, or ought to be, very simple: if it’s a religious matter, then each individual church can decide, as happens now, who they will marry in their building. Single, divorced,black, white, multifaith couples – and in future, gay or straight. End of story. If it’s a non-religious, commercial matter, such as the hire of the church hall for wedding receptions, then they must abide by anti-discrimination law like everyone else and be available to anyone who wants to hire the place.

  21. As she says “There are already clear protections within European law”

    and as we all know it’s the religious org such as CI that are using the European courts mostly not LGBT people. The churches already have full legal protection to discriminate, article 9 of the ECHR gives this to them.

  22. Craig Nelson 8 Nov 2012, 8:43pm

    The ‘lock’ is just an act of presentation that allows the govt to allow churches who want to marry to do so and those who don’t don’t have to.

    Prepare for an amendment to the Equality Act (even churches are already not subject to it) and lots of sentences starting with the words ‘For the avoidance of doubt…’

    If it helps the law pass I have no problem but do agree the govt needs to get a move on.

    1. Time is fast running out.

      Legislation takes time.

      Cameron is hedging his bets.

      He’s still spouting his usual lies, while doing nothing concrete.

      Quite cynical. But we all know that if we do not have equality by 2015 then the Tories are the same vile scum they always have been.

    2. The haters are wanting to ensure discrimination in line with their prejudices remains written into UK law. That’s the reason for their bleating for duplication of protections they already have simply by being religions but naming us as being excluded.

      Later, they hope, that may be usable to extend discrimination again.

      And that is equally why, since we want equality, there must be no such named exclusion.

      And its why L&G people really need to pay attention and get removed the specific exclusions the CoE got written into marriage law through the Gender Recognition Act too, as part of equal marriage.

  23. As far as equal marriage is concerned, I just hope the new Archbishop-elect and his fellow Anglicans pay due respect to what the New Testament teaches us in, for example, St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans chapter 13 verses 1-7, and St Peter’s first Epistle chapter 2 verses 13-17.

  24. Well, if the Anglican Church chooses to discriminate, I thing it’s very inapproriate for the head of state to belong to that denomination, let alone be “head” of it.

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