Reader comments · UK equalities minister: Gay couples will be banned from suing churches that refuse to marry them · PinkNews

Enter your email address to receive our daily LGBT news roundup

You're free to unsubscribe at any time.


UK equalities minister: Gay couples will be banned from suing churches that refuse to marry them

Post your comment

Comments on this article are now closed.

Reader comments

  1. Religious freedom is all well and good but Maria Miller and the Government need to understand it works both ways.

    I’m all for churches being allowed to choose who they marry, they do this anyway as anyone who has friends who want to get married in Catholic churches will know all too well.

    But LGBT friendly churches must be allowed the option of marrying same-sex couples if they so wish too.

    1. Doesn’t this refer to those churches that don’t wish to participate? Which is fair enough as it removes the obstacle that they use to oppose *any* SSM.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Nov 2012, 8:27pm

      I agree and I also think there should be consequences for any religious denomination harrassing or bad mouthing those churches or other places of worship who wish to participate in our marriage ceremonies. The CoE, if it had it in its power, would make sure that none of them would be entitled to do it. Freedom of religion is a two-way street. For those who oppose it, tough. Nobody is forcing them, just don’t bash those who do.

    3. bilywwingartenson 12 Nov 2012, 2:43am

      Tahts good that churches cant be forced to marry against their faith. As long as those who do want to marry gays can do so.

      the big hidden benefit of allowing churches to say no is that they will be recognized for what they are and over time fewer and fewer of the people who go to church will continue as the next generation takes control

      Freedom from religion is the next battle and let the the bad churches continue to commit suicide

    4. Homosexuals need to understand that they maybe not be welcome in churches and are not welcome in certain Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts, maybe this could be included in the legislation too so there are no more money grabbing episodes for ‘hurt feelings’

      1. Yes, and people who are not white should understand that their place is at the end of the bus… oops, wrong century.

  2. Chrissy Egg 11 Nov 2012, 10:38am

    I agree to a degree Jae, but I also believe everyone should be haeld accountable for their prejudices – including the church.

  3. Let’s be honest even if it was written down in black and white that no church had to marry a ss couple and every lawyer in the world confirmed it was airtight it still wouldn’t be enough for them. Their problem is with the same sex bit, not the marriage bit. They just can’t say that can they?

  4. If we continue to allow prejudism within the church then people will still belive they have an express and justified right to punish and discriminate against homosexuals. If there was another organisation out there willing this sort of deliberate hate crime against any other part of society they would be punished. I get fed up that because all the curch has behind them to continue this form of evil prejudice is the textual nonsense written in bibles. Its about time they were taught how ignorant they are by tearing down the walls of their badly flawed organisations

    1. hit the nail on the head with this one they really love preching love and exceptance but when push comes to shove someone always suffers

  5. It’s not possible to “calm the fears” of religious people: religion is based on fear! Fear that daddy will punish them for being a naught kid.

    The Christian Institute and their zombie slaves at C4M claim (childishly) that they can never be “protected” enough. So, here’s an idea: screw ’em! No pandering to their incessant whining. No opt outs, no safeguards… One shouldn’t continually placate a stroppy child.

    1. You obviously haven’t read/sudied the entire Bible. The OT i’s an historical view of Israel and how God favored and punished them. Then we got the NT and God showed Israel and the world how to live an honest, just and saving life. The only fear expected it to “fear God” in its proper form. If the world follwed the Christian principles we’d have no wars, viollence, lying, injustice but people prefer to be their own gods and do whatever they like.
      Sinners of all kinds cannot accept the Truth of God so things will continue to get worse and killings will continue — all in rightful judgment.

      1. I would no more waste my precious time studying the bible than I would bother reading beyond the first sentence of your message…

      2. There is a place for you and it aint here so fak of you carnt

      3. Lets be honest here, if there was a god then there would be no war!

        1. Or there would be war in the name of god like it always existed. Christianity is nothing more than a tool to keep people naive and good so they can be easily manipulated and used by the few smart people who act like they believe such silly stuff simply so they will use the masses.

          If religions didnt exist, people will try find support on smaller groups/their own ideas/beliefs and it ll be harder to be manipulated by politicians etc. So yeah, religion seems to cause more problems since the rich people are the ones who want the war and manipulate everyone around them to do so

          When the retard common human goes in the battlefield full of rage and hate for the “evil” enemy and wants to kill them because their goverment called them evil and that they ll ruin their precious things like religion and freedom. Religion is just another incentive to be abused, and if people werent so dumb there wouldnt be war since there would be no manipulation

      4. Try telling all this to any and every Christian leader – none of whom get even a smidgeon of it.

      5. “… an historical view of Israel” – PRICELESS!

      6. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 5:52pm

        I have no problem with God’s judgement, if he even exists.
        However, I have a real problem with pompous, holier-than-thou pricks like you that feel they somehow have divine permission to judge on God’s behalf by proxy.

        I think if/when the day of judgement arrives, the likes of you are going to be far more likely to get cast into hell for your opinionated, judgemental and malicious attitudes than two people that love each other and just want the same as everybody else.

  6. It’s hard to see how the British Government could legislate to prevent access to the ECHR by gay people on this one specific matter, without themselves being then taken to the court for bringing in such legislation.They might ‘protect’ the churches from being sued, but only at the expense of the Government then being liable under ECHR law. ….Personally I agree with the C4M’s conclusion that their right to discriminate cannot be protected in law, especially if those churches that want to hold SS marriages are allowed to do so. Also, in the latter case, I can imagine an awful lot of straight people avoiding discriminatory churches for their weddings, especially when they are publicised, with significant financial implications. I can’t imagine it being too respectable for most people to get married in a homophobic church..

    1. the ECtHR (not to be confused with the ECJ) has ALWAYS allowed states to make their own laws on marriage they have refused to recognise that the “right to marry” extends to same sex couples until more countries recognise it themselves

      1. Therefore your not “banned” from suing under the current legislation but you will lose the case and cost yourself thousands – theres no point. This isn’t something the government are going to legislate on it is something which is already recognised in the convention that freedom of religion trumps the right to marry.

      2. But that’s the exact point that concerns C4M: the Government IS about to allow SS marriage in this country. Then we will have the case that some businesses carrying out marrying will be refusing to do so on the basis of an innate characteristic (sexual orientation), and some not. If this principle is allowed on the basis that ‘religions can do what they like’, then they could just as easily refuse to conduct mixed-race marriages – which used to happen, of course, on the basis of bible-based arguments as sound as those currently used to prohibit SS marriage.

        1. Only religious bodies are allowed to decline … and yes they can refused to conduct mixed race marriages the marriage act allows churches to refuse to marry anyone they want.

          1. This is clearly false, otherwise there would be no need for discussion or objection by Christians. If the right to racially discriminate were enshrined in the marriage act, then a similar right to discriminate against SS couples would be easy to sustain and defend in law.

        2. Cardinal Capone 12 Nov 2012, 2:54pm

          Theoretically a church could still refuse to marry a mixed race couple, just as they can and do refuse to marry couples of mixed religion. They are entitled to do it. However public opinion has changed, and I think that was more of an American attitude anyway.

          But there is then a question of whether such a group should receive government subsidies in the form of tax exemption, as they are not acting in the public interest. They can do what they like, but they shouldn’t get paid for prejudice.

        3. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:15pm

          I think you will find that some churches will not marry anyone who has been divorced, and strict Hasidic Jewish synagogues will not marry gentiles or mixed Jewish/Gentile couples.
          There are actually a lot of exceptions, as the government and the law generally try to avoid stepping on toes by countermanding religious edicts, however distasteful they may see them.

    2. Johnny mc cool 11 Nov 2012, 9:18pm

      The uk can not make a law that goes against the eu law. But eu law up holds the right of a church to discriminate for faith reason.

      1. The ECHR is not EU law (in fact it predates the EU) hence why it is heard by ECtHR and not the ECJ.

      2. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:17pm

        The ECHR and the EU are two entirely different bodies, and are not connected in any way.
        For instance, Norway is not a member of the EU, but it is still beholden to the ECHR.

  7. While I agree that churches should be given the freedom of choice whether or not they want to hold ceremonies, Gay couples should also have the right to sue them for discrimination.

    Its a simple set of laws I like to call “government go F* yourself and stop nannying the people.”

  8. This seems unnecessarily heavy handed as I don ‘t see any evidence of an intention on the part if gays to force churches to marry them.
    Mainly the unfounded threat of legal action by gay couples is another scaremongering tactic employed by the anti-equality side to delay the introduction of marriage equality for as long as possible.

    Once again gays are singled out for special different treatment under the law and this I find unacceptable, but if it means same sex marriage will go through then just get on with it.

    Will marriage equality opponents move on to some new scaremongering tactic immediately this one has been dealt with? no doubt they will if given enough time so the government needs to declare it’s intentions as soon as possible to avoid dragging this battle out any further. .

    1. I intend to try to force the churches to conduct my wedding. I consider it a vitally important point to make. The religious must be held to account and forced to obey the secular law of the land – and the secular law has non-discrimination measures to ensure fairness.

      Also, I despise religious homophobes and want to cause them as much discomfort as I can. I would tremendously enjoy rubbing their noses in it.

      There’s your evidence.

      1. Are you gay?

      2. Why would you want to do that? And are you going to do the same with mosques?

      3. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 5:58pm

        The secular law of the land does not insist that you should be married in a church.
        You should have the option like anybody else. The Church has the right to pick and choose, and frankly, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.

        Reactionary dickheads like you will only spoil it for everyone.
        Let the church have their little cliques, otherwise nobody will be allowed to have same-sex marriage.
        I just hope if you do decide to sue, they take you to the cleaners.

        1. In what imaginable way is VP reactionary? (reactionary adjective opposing political or social progress or reform – OED)

          1. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:23pm

            By going against this legislation, he is actively threatening political and social reform.

            Pseudo-political anarchistic activists and sh|t-stirrers with no real reason to do this other than to cause trouble and fck it up for everybody else.

      4. Why would you want to ruin your special day by getting married in a homophobic church?

  9. Michael Walsh 11 Nov 2012, 11:16am

    This is ludicrous.

    Surely all religions should be given the same freedoms? Should anyone who genuinely believes the bible tells them that black people cannot be married be given the right to refuse? Or that disabled people should not be confirmed or baptized?

    Perhaps the minister could explain the difference between discrimination against homosexuals and discrimination based on race, or eye colour, or women? The answer is that there is no difference. None of us choose our sexuality, none of us choose our race or gender.

    This proposal is a shambles – pandering to bigots who discriminate in the name of their faith because they are too cowardly to simply admit they don’t like it.

    1. This is what swings it for me. I am very liberal, and believe that the religious should normally be left to get on with their stupid nonsense, but not when they are exempted from anti-discrimination laws. In the Old Testament no one who had certain disabilites was allowed to “approach God” or be accepted into the priesthood. Presumably they think that that part of their Bible has now been superseded – but not the bit that refers to homosexuality. I also have evangelical friends who still teach that the black people have been marked by God due to an ancient curse, and are inferior to the white races. Would they be allowed to refuse to marry a black couple if that constituted part of their “sincerely held beliefs”?

      1. May I suggest you dump your evangelical friends then.

        1. Well – I should perhaps have put the word “friends” in inverted commas really, as they are the bane of my life. I used to be one of them until I saw the light, and they still keep pestering me to “return to the Lord”!

    2. Cardinal Capone 12 Nov 2012, 3:01pm

      According to the bible a person with a visual disability is not allowed to approach the altar. If there are any sects that practice his, I guess they are entitled to. Interestingly, this would preclude our new Archbishop of Canterbury, if the C of E were literalists.

  10. European citizens banned from the European Convention on Human Rights, that’s an Irish one.

    For once I agree with the Coalition for Marriage (last paragraph).

    As the Prime Minister says, ‘full equality is the bottom line’.

  11. Gay couples wanting to be married by the very institutions that spit in our face, treat us like aberrations of nature and insult us at every turn? Would Jewish people go out of their way to be blessed by Dr Goebbels???
    This is pretty laughable.
    Unless you are a certified masochist, maybe !

    1. Or sadist: wouldn’t you be tempted to get married in the most homophobic church you could find, if the law obliged them to marry you? I would, and sell the film rights…

      1. Cardinal Capone 12 Nov 2012, 2:39pm

        No. Getting married is about love, not hatred.

        1. Mmm, I agree, BUT getting married is currently NOT about love; as we’re seeing from the current situation. So making a film about it isn’t such a bad idea, if it helps in the fight to get to that stage you talk about – which is really where we should have reached a very long time ago, but ho-hum, that’s what happens when there’s no clear line between church and state.

  12. A lily livered government pandering to prejudice. What a great legacy they leave for themselves. But no doubt it means that churches now leave themselves open to being sued for everything anything else under sun now. Unless, of course, the government now passes laws saying that churches are beyond all laws of the land.

  13. Paul from Brighton 11 Nov 2012, 11:39am

    Ironic, don’t you think?

    The UK Equalities Minister ensuring that a non-elected body can not only discriminate against LGBT people, but is proposing legislation that prevents LGBT people from seeking redress in the Equalities Court for being treated unequally.

    This puts a whole new meaning on the word – equality.

    1. That There Other David 11 Nov 2012, 11:44am

      Religions already hold a special position in equalities law. For example, where are the female Catholic priests?

      In the meantime this indicates to me that the proposed legislation is likely to permit religious institutions who wish to to marry same-sex couples who approach them. The CoE etc. can have this discussion themselves now, rather than inflicting their internal arguments on everyone else.

      1. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:01pm

        A very important point. A very astute and articulate observation.

    2. I think you have so much more clearly put into words what I was rather clumsily attempting and failing to express earlier.

  14. That There Other David 11 Nov 2012, 11:40am

    I believe this step is completely unnecessary, as same-sex couples are no more going to force churches to marry them than previously-divorced people currently do, but in general I think this is a good thing.

    It completely destroys the Catholic Church and CoE’s legal fear arguments for opposing equal marriage, and leaves them only with transparent anti-gay rhetoric.

    It’s actually the first sign in a while that the government are pressing ahead with this after all.

  15. I have always felt that this was her reason for taking this post, to protect the rights of the church to discriminate.

    Intellectually, she concedes that gay have the right to equality, but there is no heartfelt conviction to support the gay community any further. That woman is not on our side, except by default to her own benefit and to climb a professional ladder.

  16. Silly woman… human rights are exactly those that you cannot restrict in this way. You cannot pick and choose which equality laws you are to follow to suit your own dogma, although admittedly religion has been doing exactly that for centuries.

    This will actually be overturned if enacted as it is incompatible with the ECHR and existing HRA 98.

    1. Daniel

      The problem is that, in practical terms, it will make it much less likely we will achieve equal marriage legislation if it will open religious insitutions who refuse to marry same-sex couples (presumably including mosques?) to prosecution. Far fewer MPs will vote for it.

      So those who think that churches and mosques should be forced to marry LGBT people can stick to their guns: but it will result in the equal marriage legislation failing completely.

      This is an imperfect world. I would like to see an end to dogmatic homophobic religion. It is a great evil. But one good step in that direction is civil equal marriage, which will fail as a result of any attempt to impose it on dogmatic religionists. 90% of the cake is much better than no cake at all.

      1. Gazza is right. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

    2. Actually if and when a case comes along it has to be interpreted in light of the Human Rights Act and if it doesn’t fit a “declaration of incompatibility is made” BUT the law is still applied and parliament are notified that the law needs to be changed. In English law the courts have no power to strike down laws.

  17. Sorry, but she should therefore ban EVERYONE from being able to sue churches who do not wish to marry them.

    The very idea of ONLY gays being banned is pure unmitigated discrimination.

    She has absolutely no idea what “equality” means, does she.

  18. Cardinal Capone 11 Nov 2012, 11:57am

    I think the way to deal with the fears is for the government to be even handed and say that no one, gay or straight, will have the right to sue a church for refusing to marry them. Of course, we know that that merely reflects the current position anyway, but if they want it engraved in stone, let them have it.

    To simply refer to gay people like that is wrong.

  19. Cardinal Capone 11 Nov 2012, 12:02pm

    Of course there is also an argument that religious freedom is a right of the individual, not of a religious body necessarily, so the right of a priest to marry, or not marry, a couple can be seen as personal to him.

  20. The solution is to make all marriages civil marriages and alow whichever snake oil peddlars who want to say their magic spells do so as a non-legal ceremony.

    1. Which is exactly how the French secular model works I believe – and it seems to work very well.

    2. No, that’s not good enough. It might not be a legal service, but it’s still a service like any other. You’re still paying for a venue and an officiant and other contributory things. It should be bound by the goods and services regulations in the same way.

      Just because the service involves making invocations to imaginary creatures who are considered to be homophobic, that doesn’t mean it should be treated any differently from any other kind of venue and speaker-hire service. A social club is not allowed to refuse to hire its halls out to people because they’re gay, and nor is a professional after-dinner speaker. These can be sued under the regulations, and are exactly equivalent cases.

      1. I don’t really agree – I don’t think any religious outfit should be obliged to perform ceremonies for those who clearly don’t share their beliefs. Similarly I don’t think bars, clubs and saunas that aim for the gay male market should be forced to admit non-gay men or women.

  21. We need to stay calm and patient.

    Society and humanity would be much better off without dogmatic fundamentalist homophobic religion and its grotesque, jumped-up and bigoted supporters.

    But the successful way to eliminate religious bigorty is to fight for a society at large that is liberal, enlightened and inclusive, and ensure that ALL children get a secular education and one that teaches them to think and challenge brainwashing.

    Let the ignorant religious institutions dissolve in their own time. Let’s not turn their preachers and congregations into martyrs. They would just love that.

    Yes to civil equal marriage, and to churches being able to marry who they want.

  22. Jock S. Trap 11 Nov 2012, 12:33pm

    Fine.. so long as those religions that are open to marriage equality and wish to perform are able to do so openly however I do think even with safeguard the discriminating religions will simply find other excuses not to allow marriage in any equality. It’s there way.

    However I do go with the saying treat people how you wish to be treated…

    So…. now the safeguard are in place for those religions to carry on discriminating, give us the marriage equality deal already!!!

  23. Mumbo Jumbo 11 Nov 2012, 12:33pm

    So the government plans to introduce into equality legislation a special class of less than equal people who do not have equal access to all aspects of equality law and by doing this create in equality legislation a special class of more than equal people who can ignore equality law?


  24. What will be the government’s next big delay tactic, or compromise with the Church?
    Better yet, why doesn’t the conservative party leadership just outright admit that they are having second thoughts, and scrap the SSM proposal?
    At least then, they wont have to pretend they’re tolerant any longer, and we will all know where they stand on the matter.

  25. Okay fine. As long as straight couples cant sue churches who wont marry them.

    Some ‘equality’ Mrs Minister.

    1. Are divorced couples able to sue churches who refuse to marry them? Are atheists able to sue priests who refuse to marry them? Can a Protestant couple sue a Roman Catholic priest for refusing to perform a marriage? There are a number of people who are legally able to marry in the UK, but for whom churches will not provide marriage services.What the minister is promoting is equality… Gay marriage is supposed to ensure that gay people are equal, not that they have rights above of that of straight couples.

      1. Totally agree.

  26. Isnt it amazing? After years and years of religious and pollitical leaders extolling the virtues of marriage and how it created the basis of society and how they would like more people to get married and how the politicians should introduce a married man’s tax-allowance for the stability of society- THE VERY SAME PEOPLE are now moving heavan and hell to STOP people who want to from getting married? Its just crazy!

  27. Fine, as long as no one can sue me for not paying taxes. Who do you think you are kidding Maria?

  28. Carl Rowlands 11 Nov 2012, 1:01pm

    I cannot see how you can be exempted from the Human Rights Act! It is by definition is a flawed argument.

  29. Bill (Scotland) 11 Nov 2012, 1:07pm

    When there is a successful case brought against the Roman Catholic Church because of its refusal to marry a divorced person (and it has never happened so far to my knowledge, in decades/centuries) then perhaps that organisation might have cause to worry about being forced to marry a same-sex couple against its will. This is nothing more than another attempted road-block by bigots.

    As for what Ms Miller now says the government plans to legislate for, I hope it will include a clause permitting those religious bodies which wish to have the freedom to conduct same-sex marriages to be allowed to do so. If not her proposal is a sham. The current proposed legislation explicitly forbids any religious element in a same-sex marriage and if she truly means to legislate as her words imply (granting religious bodies ‘freedom’) then the proposed blanket ban on any religious body carrying out marriages seems untenable.

  30. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Nov 2012, 1:12pm

    I believe that all religious denominations should be allowed to perform same-sex marriages but should be protected from other denominations who harrass them in the interests of religious freedom, a two-way street in this case. This is something that hasn’t been mentioned. If the CoE and Catholic Church had their way, no denomination would be permitted to marry a gay couple.

    I fail to see any gay couples wanting to sue a church, synagogue or mosque for not marrying them. I don’t even believe there have been any divorced hetero couples who’ve done just that. I think this is a waste of time for Miller to pursue it. Religious denominations are already free to discriminate against those they do not wish to marry. Divorced hetero couples can’t remarry in the Anglican or Catholic churches. There are sufficient laws in place protecting religious denominations. Have any of them to this date had a law suit brought against them by a hetero couple?

  31. Paul from Brighton 11 Nov 2012, 1:25pm

    Interesting concept this, and one which when you think about it shows how actually homophobic Maria Miller is.

    Take for example, the Catholic Church who will not allow anyone to marry in their church where one part has been previously married and divorced (unless you’re ultra-special like Daniel O Donnell…).

    Anglican churches have similar rules – and and of course, Jewish churches have similar rules.

    To-date, there’s been no legal challenges by anyone of these faiths against their mother churches –

    Yet, cue those nasty homos who’ll be queuing up to sue the righteous religious institutions, and special legislation is required.

    Quite honestly if this is the governments idea how they will introduce same-sex-marriage they can poke it up Cardinal O Brien’s frock…

  32. Are they going to put notices on the doors of those churches that say ‘NO GAYS’. Not that I’d want to get married in one of those churches, or sue them, but for an equalities minister to be putting legislation through that is about inequality seems a bit of a joke. She’ll look like she was supporting some kind of gay ‘apartheid’ in 20 yrs. Which she is.

    1. And the alternative is …. to insist that religious places (including mosques) be forced to marry same-sex couples, resulting in the civil equal marriage legislation failing through lack of MP support.

      We should have learnt from history that it is wrong to force people to follow a form of religion that they do not agree with. Henry VIII, burnings of heretics, the Inquisition, and all that.

      Ignorant religion will eventually fade away, but that won’t happen by trying to make their priests and imams into martyrs.

      1. I kind of agree with you. But it’s still a joke that the equalities minister is putting legislation through that enforces inequality, and she will be seen in 20 yrs to be someone who supported that inequality.

        1. Mark

          I’m not sure that history will be so unkind to her. After all, when male homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967, an age of consent was introduced of 21. I don’t think we look back now and regard the people who voted for that, and argued for it, as supporting inequality. Given the state of consciousness at that time, 21 was the best that could have been hoped for. In 1967, going for an age of consent of 16, or nothing, would have led to … nothing. Similarly, given the lack of consciousness of so many dogmatic religionists in 2012, civil equal marriage, and the right of religious institutions to refuse same-sex marriages because of their stupid Mediaeval views, is the best we can hope for. The alternative is … no civil equal marriage.

        2. Churches being able to choose which marriage ceremonies they wish to perform is equality. Religious bodies are not providers of public services and should not be treated as such.

  33. Craig Nelson 11 Nov 2012, 1:47pm

    I am in favour of this step. It’s like blocking up a road that doesn’t exist.

    You already can’t sue a church for not marrying you so putting into law (for the avoidance of doubt) that you can’t do what you already can’t do leaves us where we already were but with some religios a bit calmer.

    In any case it’s actually a part of the freedom of religion to be able to decide who to marry so making that clear is actually a part of the freedom of religion under art 9 so legislating in this way entirely upholds the Convention (all UK legislation has to be certified as being compatible with the Convention and is also reported on by the Joint Human Rights Committee – I don’t anticipate a problem with the Bill’s Human Rights Act compliance).

  34. I agree with Dave North. Are the proposed ‘safeguards’ really going to specifically segregate and discriminate against same-sex couples or are they actually going to prevent ANY couples from using the European Convention on Human Right’s protection for freedom of religion to force a particular church to marry them.

    In the current cultural milieu it may be more unlikely for a particular CofE church to refuse to marry an opposite-sex couple but it is crucial that any new legislation does not reflect bigots’ homophobia by creating clauses which only apply to LGBTs. Any proposed ‘safeguards’ should be gender neutral.

    Ms Miller needs to be more careful to show that she is not going to be the architect of a new ‘Section 28’.

    1. Jock S. Trap 12 Nov 2012, 2:47pm

      I actually would like to see a heterosexual couple openly try to sue the church for not marrying them.

      Let them work in our favour!

  35. The rather large elephant in this room is Anglican Establishment. The CoE is the only church legally obliged to marry anyone living within the parish boundaries of its local churches, whether the couple concerned are atheists or devil-worshippers. I have attended Anglican church weddings where the priest was plainly discomfitted at marrying people who had no interest in the CoE beyond the pretty Neogothic setting. The remedy is Disestablishment. And they are terrified of it.

  36. why would anyone want to marry in the church that doesn’t genuinely believe in your marriage

    1. To prove a point. To prove that our equality is infinitely more important than their stupid fairytale nonsense. To prove that “I believe it’s wrong because a magic man in the sky told me” is a laughable and irrelevant piece of nonsense when it comes to the law of the land and the equal rights of every citizen.

      1. marrying in the church would only validate ‘their stupid fairytale nonsense’ and it would signall approval of the institution of religious marriage

      2. So what you are saying is that you want to be able to legally force someone to pretend their imaginary friend likes you, because that is what you think “equality” means.

      3. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:18pm

        No real reason, but simply sheer fcking bloody-mindedness.
        Prats like you will squeal just because you think you can get away with it.

  37. Robert Brown 11 Nov 2012, 3:58pm

    Whilst I agree that each religious institutions shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to have all of its buildings forced to marry same-sex couples, I do believe that they need to make ‘provision’ to ensure that if a church, building, mosque etc WANTS to then they can hold same sex ceremonies / marriages . . .

    1. Robert Brown 11 Nov 2012, 3:59pm

      In an ideal world we wouldn’t have this ‘argument’ . . . yet we don’t live in an ideal world . . .

  38. This is appalling. Using Human Rights legislation to confirm bigotry.

  39. To the UK equalities minister@
    Sod off!

  40. Good luck with trying to convine the European Human Rights Commision that they have no right to get involved…

    The UK Government are asking for trouble with this legislation.

  41. Ok so be it.
    Let the religious nutters feel they have won a tiny battle in the war they are rapidly losing.

    1. …so the homosexual pairings who want a pseudo marriage in a church are ‘religious nutters’ too are they ? – says it all.Why the drive for distorting the meaning of marriage then ?

      1. Lee did not necessarily state that all religious people are “nutters.” Only necessarily those who believe that gay people could force churches to marry them without this legislation.

        And quit pretending marriages you don’t like are “pseudo marriages.” It makes you look childish.

  42. Kathryn Howie 11 Nov 2012, 4:46pm

    This duty to marry (and record ) anyone who lives in their parish is an outdated matter, it was introduced and mandated by the State at a time when it was possible, even likely, the only person able to read and write, and thus record a marriage, would be the local vicar!
    This no longer applies and should have been done away with when civil marriage was introduced; it is a historical anachronism.
    It also does not mean the local vicar has to marry you only that you may use his church for the ceremony, if he (usually he, although it could now be she) does not for any reason wish to perform the ceremony another minister can be brought in from elsewhere in the diocese who is willing to conduct the marriage in THAT church.

  43. There’s no such thing as a ‘lock’ to prevent someone from using the ECHR. You cannot do that, it is impossible. If someone wants to challenge a decision on the grounds of the ECHR then they will do. A government ‘lock’ is impossible. These people really do see to insult everyone’s intelligence don’t they? The whole point of the ECHR is that it can, if need be override and take precedent over domestic legislation. Indeed all domestic legislation MUST be in compliance with the ECHR anyway. So how can it be possible for domestic legislation to be a ‘lock against’ using the ECHR? It cannot be. What an utter and pointless waste of time from this ridiculous woman.

    1. Craig Nelson 11 Nov 2012, 9:10pm

      The reason a ‘lock’ could work well is that churches can’t in fact be sued. Merely restating that in legislation does nothing other than restate the current position and take away the churches’ talking points against the legislation which is spreading misleading panic about what might happen [=lying].

      The only people one can sue under human rights is the member state that is denying you rights – in the case of marriage equality the state is extending rights so it is inconceivable that anyone could take a case against the government.

      One would still be able to take the govt to the ECtHR if one believed one’s rights were being denied but there’d be no case to take if the govt is providing marriage equality and freedom to marry couples where they wish to do so.

      1. You seem to be contradicting yourself: if Churches are immune from prosecution on the basis of discrimination, why propose the ‘lock’ in the first place? No further legislation to protect their rights to discriminate would be required.

  44. Kathryn Howie 11 Nov 2012, 4:50pm

    I see NO reason that religious bodies should be exempt from equality and human rights legislation, the problem is that the churches like to lump themselves into the category of human rights like ethnicity (where sex and sexual orientation reside also), which is an innate characteristic; but a particular belief system, religion, is in the human rights category of choice – freedom to change or leave and join another religious group, also they don’t have to accept you, it is about freedom of speech and association and personal autonomy, and there are restrictions, here – like not harming others, or conspiring with others to bring harm to someone ( your religion is generally, in a civilised society, no defence) deliberate defamation and slander, libel used to carelessly harm,
    You are not allowed to stone anyone to death because they have transgressed a tenant of your faith, however deeply and sincerely you believe it!
    So NO, sexual orientation should not be exempt for your religion.

    1. Craig Nelson 11 Nov 2012, 9:15pm

      Churches are already exempted from Equalities legislation, so that is nothing new.

      1. Kathryn Howie 12 Nov 2012, 12:27am

        We need to fix that.

  45. This is utterly outrageous. How DARE the government give religious bigots the specific right to discriminate against us? ALL churches and religious groups should be FORCED to marry anyone equally, and their simpering faith-based bigotries be damned. Equality in society is vital and should be absolute – offended religious sentiment is facile and worthless nonsense. It’s hurt feelings and punctured self-importance. Nothing more. Wounded pride is AS NOTHING compared to ensuring equality.

    Shopkeepers are not allowed to discriminate, employers are not allowed to discriminate, schools are not allowed to discriminate, hoteliers are not allowed to discriminate. Religious institutions are no different, and must be made to abide by equality law in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY EVERYONE ELSE IS.

  46. Dave North 11 Nov 2012, 5:17pm

    On consideration, and a bottle of sherry, I can see where they are going with this.

    It WOULD allow those religions / denominations the right to marry gay couples if they so wished whilst allowing the dinosaurs to fester in their own bigotry without fear of being sued.

    My only objections is the “singling” out of gay couples in this proposal.

    It should apply to everyone.

  47. Enough babbling Miller.

    Where is the draft marriage equality bill?

  48. Sorry Ms Miller. You cannot prevent mo from seeking a declaration that your measures are incompatible with our human rights obligations. Please, for a change, govern with intelligence and integrity rather than with an eye to bigotry.

  49. The French have the right idea – the state should be secular. Marriage is a vehicle for state recognized marriages that bestow all sorts of societal privileges. This is nothing to do with the church. So right to marry – yes – but not in churches – no problem, but then WTF are bishops doing in the upper chamber of a democracy ? – oh my England its the 21st Century – please wake up !

    1. barriejohn 11 Nov 2012, 7:18pm

      I couldn’t agree more with all that you say, though I do know gay guys who are very religious, and in partnerships, who would have dearly loved to have been married in their churches. I don’t understand that, and it’s a tribute to their loyalty that they haven’t turned their backs on their churches, but it’s a great way to treat loyal members, isn’t it?

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Nov 2012, 8:39pm

      I agree. It’s truly amazing that an unelected chamber is allowed to pass laws for an electorate that doesn’t have any say as to who sits there. Especially absurd and offensive is that religious clerics have a place. That’s not my idea of democracy. It should be abolished or replaced with an elected body and NO religious clerics allowed. I just don’t see the British public voting for a bishop either. The CoE is opposed to Lords reform for obvious reasons. The more it remains in opposition to equal civil marriage (none of its business either) makes a stronger argument to curtail its power once and for all.

  50. As equalities minister Miller will only allow equality as she sees that how it goes…glad to see the tories keeping the faith and continually trying to screw us over yet again

  51. Equal marraige legislation will allow same sex couples to be legally married in the eyes of the law. That is the equality to which we are entitled to. It is arrogant to be able to demand that churches must perform the ceremony if we demand it. It shouldn’t need legislation. As long as religous organisations are not allowed to determine the civil definition of marraige we should not be demanding they confer their religous blessings on our marraiges if they don’t wish to.

  52. Peter & Michael 11 Nov 2012, 10:50pm

    Inequality at it’s worst, confirmed by a conservative government !

  53. …”and some are more equal than others”?

  54. Mommie Dammit 12 Nov 2012, 1:25am

    Do I remember correctly that the U.K., or perhaps just England, forbids the Church from discriminating against LGBTs in adoption? Did you not just slap a judgment against a “Christian” couple for discriminating against a Gay couple in public accommodations? If I’m right, then where does Miller come up with the justification for this? But then why should I be surprised? Hypocrisy enshrined in law is a human tradition, no matter which side of The Pond you’re on.

  55. Kathryn Howie 12 Nov 2012, 1:30am

    Once you start writing explicit discrimination of benign innate human characteristics (ethnicity/race, sex/sexual orientation/gender, handedness, stature etc.) you are opening the door to special rights, something the organised religions have always said they are against. What they really mean is they are against special rights if it applies to other denominations, just as they are for freedom of religion as long as that freedom allows them to veto for anyone else those freedoms that run counter to their religious interpretation of their holy writings; a special freedom.
    This is not freedom and equality.
    Think return of religious adoption agencies, is this what Maria Miller is trying to slide under the radar, or legal discrimination against gay kids at religious owned or run schools, “religious institution” can be seamlessly expanded to include all sorts of horrors.

  56. Kathryn Howie 12 Nov 2012, 4:12am

    The main stumbling block is the Church of England, it acts as its own registrar a situation that does not apply to other cults in England – think Denmark, it too has a State church, Lutheran, the “reason” that the liberal country of Denmark was behind other countries in having same-sex marriage.
    They came to an understanding whereby individual Lutheran churches could opt to solemnise marriages.
    The Church of England does not have that option – different structure, more hierarchical – so the solution would be to remove the universal registrar provision and require a civil marriage license with the vicar acting as a celebrant or officiator it would have the added effect of putting all religious marriages on an equal legal footing whether performed in a synagogue or mosque, church or friends meeting house or in your local stately home or performed by a humanist or a pagan celebrant.
    Wait for the whining of religious privilege because of removal of special rights for the C of E !

  57. Could this be the start of the climb-down?

    1. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:11pm

      Precisely the opposite.
      One of the biggest hurdles same-sex marriage has attempted to overcome is the one that the churches see that either now or later, they will be forced to comply with equality rulings.
      By exempting them, it makes life a lot easier, because this has been a constant factor, and one I have seen brought up time and again because the church and it’s cohorts have been sending out this disinformation that they will be forced into holding ceremonies against the churches wishes.

      If this goes through, the church won’t have a leg to stand on, and it will hopefully make the same-sex civil marriage legislation a walk in the park.
      My only caveat is that those churches that wish to hold them should be allowed to.

      1. Kathryn Howie 14 Nov 2012, 10:39am

        It worries me that Maria Miller is using the phrase “religious institution”
        – what does this include, is she attempting an end run around the equalities act, I think we need to watch this VERY carefully. A religious leopard does not miraculously loose its religious spots!
        Just because an exemption is included in a “marriage act” does not mean it does not apply else where.
        Is the Salvation Army a religious institution? Your local Catholic secondary school?
        A Church of England sponsored Charity? Or adoption agency?
        The other problem is removing a class of institution from the purview of the law, just because some organisation is “religious” should not prevent judicial review, even the government is liable to this; although in earlier times it was not.!!!

  58. It would appear that she has not thought this through at all and would leave the Government then open to legal action.

    Stopping one section of society (LGBT) for suing an organisation (Churches etc) surely must unlawful in itself?

    Our marriage laws should be similar to the French where there is separation of church and state. People who want something religious they can have a blessing afterwards.

    Also, if we are honest, how many LGBT folk want a religious service anyway? I certainly don’t.

  59. Even if such a clause was included it would be toothless, no one will be arrested, fined, or put in prison over it. Also, the police won’t raid gay church weddings either, they’ve got more important things to do with their time.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Nov 2012, 4:19pm

      All it would do is eliminate their argument that they’d be forced or sued to participate in same-sex marriages. Yet, that won’t deter many of them from revisiting their spurious nonsense regarding the potential demand for incestuous, polygamous and bestial relationships if equal marriage becomes law. I just don’t see the vast majority of the British public believing that, although there will be many in the Tory party, BNP and UKIP as well as their shills, the Daily Telegraph and Mail bringing it up as legislation approaches.

  60. Sister Mary Clarence 12 Nov 2012, 9:48am

    This in effect kicks the ladder away from underneath those religious organisations who have used the ‘thin end of the wedge’ argument to suggest that if we allow civil marriage equality they will then be forced to permit equal marriage in church.

    I will be very interested to see how they respond to this.

    It very clearly does not say that churches won’t be allowed to carry out same sex marriages, but simply says they can’t be punished for not doing so.

    So this appear to be the government un-mudding the waters, not actually where there were muddy in the first place, but where the equal marriage opponents have done their best to muddy them in the hope of swaying some opinion.

    1. “I will be very interested to see how they respond to this”

      Knowing the churches, I don’t think for one moment they’ll be happy. They’ll whinge about details, question, fuss and delay as long as they can, citing legal checks needed blah blah blah……ad nauseam. Then, when they can no longer use this as a tool, they’ll find something else to fuss about. Some of them make it their life’s work to whine and moan.

      Miller should have responded by reassuring them, then just got on with equal marriage. No need for these ‘locks’, no need to fuss over the churches so much. It’s a waste of time – both in the sense of an unnecessary delay AND in the sense of wasting one’s breath.

  61. All marriage should be secular. Personally I don’t think churches should be forced to marry divorcees, gays, whoever they hate this time. The less people that pay them for the privilege the quicker they will wake up.

    You can jump up and down about being equal, but marriage is still a business for the church. Take it away from them and they will have to reconsider.

  62. Another reason why the government should have enacted equal CIVIL marriage first, then shortly after enacted legislation to permit those churches who wish to to marry LGBT people.

    This consultation and faffing about is largely caused by the churches. Make it CIVIL marriage first, then we could tell them to keep the hell out of it.

    That being achieved, then move on to religious marriage.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Nov 2012, 12:53pm

      I agree Iris but I also think the government should and must make provision for those denominations that wish to participate in our marriages in one piece of legislation. Maria Miller should just make sure that just such a provision is included and not even bother putting in a clause giving those in opposition more assurance that they will be immune. They already are so I see this as an exercise in futility, overkill. The two major “christian” denominations already ban divorced heterosexuals from marrying and I know of no lawsuit brought against a church for refusing to marry them.

      1. I agree that those denominations who want to should be allowed to perform same sex marriages, and I think that should be done very soon after the initial legislation (in my idea above). I can see the benefit of one piece of legislation as you suggest though. What motivated my idea and my response to the consultation was the incredibly tedious objections of the Church every five minutes. I wanted them to be told “Butt out! This is CIVIL marriage we’re discussing”.

        Yes, you’re quite right about churches refusing to marry divorcees – it happened to a straight friend of mine,and he ended up having a civil marriage instead where, of course, it was no problem. Churches are also allowed to discriminate against women. And I’ve yet to see a religious institution being sued for not marrying someone of a different faith! The whole idea is stupid, and seems to play to the idea that LGBT people go round looking for people to sue.

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Nov 2012, 4:02pm

          Exactly right, Iris! I think Maria Miller should take a closer look at what this is really about. There is absolutely no rational reason for gay couples to sue any religious edifice for refusing to marry them. It’s nothing more than a red herring to slow down progression to something the opponents know is inevitable.

    2. Cardinal Capone 12 Nov 2012, 3:07pm

      But they object to Civil marriage too. I’m not sure how really genuine this objection about being forced to marry people is, or whether it’s actually just a straw man being put forward to make their objections sound more rational.

      1. Yes, but civil marriage is none of their business. After all, they’d never have time to do anything else if they objected to every civil marriage that didn’t fit their criteria :D Divorcees, atheists, those of other faiths, etc etc.

        I don’t believe they really think they’ll be forced to marry same sex couples. I think they’re just scare-mongering and raising objections just for the sake of it.

      2. Also, if we’re talking about religious freedom, it could equally be argued that those denominations that DO want to perform same sex marriages could say their rights were being infringed if it wasn’t permitted. But I notice the Church doesn’t mention THEIR religious freedom. It seems to only cut one way.

      3. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Nov 2012, 4:05pm

        It isn’t a genuine objection Cardinal Capone, it never was. Red herrings, strawmen, whatever we want to call their objections have more to do with their homophobia and the church losing its power. They’re all delusional.

  63. The fairly new rev of St Martin’s Church in Folkestone, Kent said on appoinment that he would marry gay couples in his church IF the church allowed it. Once the law is passed might be an idea to approach such Rev’s wherever they are in the UK to ask if they will do so anyway….
    (Any that don’t- how about sticking a copy of a gay mag (news not naughty ones!) in the Church mag racks….

    1. Cardinal Capone 12 Nov 2012, 3:12pm

      If the Church refused to allow him to, that would be interfering with HIS religious freedom…not illegal if that’s their club rules, but somewhat ironic and oppressive.

    2. Spanner1960 12 Nov 2012, 6:05pm

      There are no non-naughty gay mags / papers any more. :(

  64. Garry Cassell 12 Nov 2012, 3:58pm

    O. equalities minister…then I guess you would protect the KKK to do what they feel like doing…..because the church is just as hateful if not more…

  65. Agreed! Nobody want a US-style court system in which plaintiffs seek to find issues on which to sue….
    Disagree! This ain’t the USA and by removing the redress of the courts, churches become an unwarranted exception to a law…this is extremely dodgy ground on which to tread.
    Diagree with Maria Miller BUT she is a figurehead and it will not have been her making this decision….remember and think carefully….a Secretary of State may only respond according to Government Policy as initiated and made functional by the Ministry’s civil servants…..look to the Permanent Under-Secretary and recall the thrust of the sitcoms “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister”.

    Summary….this is a Conservative ploy to make any future legislature about Equal Marriage quite toothless and open to considerable abuse by the church hierarchies!

  66. Norris Nordin 12 Nov 2012, 6:54pm

    When will the Brits climb out of their Victorian morality of judgement? As long as churches are allowed a tax free status at the same time as operating as private clubs, free to continue their homophobic postures, the persecution of LGBT people will continue.

  67. If religious sects want to be excused from following the law – and thereby depart from the doctrines laid down 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 – then they should themselves be denied all legal protection and financial privileges. .

  68. What do we expect from the Nasty Party? They’ll always support those who are as nasty as they are before they’ll support us.

    There are churches who DO want to marry us. She and her Government will continue to ignore them whilst listening to those churches whose only message is intolerance.

  69. Ok so…

    “Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

    2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

    Why would people be able to sue under that anyway? People think the ECHR is some magical “I win” button to any argument.

  70. will straight couples be banned from suing churches that don’t marry them?

  71. Kathryn Howie 14 Nov 2012, 12:51pm

    The real problem that Maria Miller is creating is to exempt from legal challenge only the refusal of same-sex marriages, whilst the CofE is still supposed to marry all those who have not been previously married and reside within their parish (whether they are Cof E members, Muslims, or druids ).
    To avoid accusations of partiality and discrimination, ( and ECHR challenge) she needs to grasp the nettle and remove the special privilege and requirement for Cof E churches to marry those within their parish and then as part of this reform require a marriage license for ALL marriages, issued by a registrar ( including the CofE – replaces “banns “) The marriage can then be performed in the designated place ( Church ,Synagogue, Mosque, Friends House, Temple, or other designated place ) by a duly authorised religious (or secular celebrant).

    1. Kathryn Howie 14 Nov 2012, 12:52pm

      Then, by removing the special requirement or rights from the Cof E
      to marry almost everyone and requiring the same procedure for ALL religious marriage, it is then possible to state in law that: “no religious celebrant empowered to perform a marriage, or a Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Temple, or other religious premises registered to perform marriages shall be required to perform any marriage which is not in accordance with their beliefs and religious doctrine”.
      That removes discriminatory practices between different religious groups as to how they can conduct a marriage whilst still maintaining equality between a civil marriage performed BY a registrar (covered by the Equalities Act) and a religious marriage performed in a church, as it is then explicitly stated that all marriages are only valid when permitted by a registrar in the issuance of a marriage license.
      Am I missing any thing here?

    2. Kathryn Howie 14 Nov 2012, 1:19pm

      Protects religious liberty whilst not writing discrimination into the law.

  72. billywingartenson 17 Nov 2012, 1:44am

    who would wnat to be married by a bigot church in a bigot builidng anyways.

    Lighten up . Maybe a law that said they must post their allowed and non allowed marriage participants publically would help the everyday people to avoid contributing to them etc

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