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Highland Council: Civil registrars should not be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples

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  1. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Mar 2013, 6:01pm

    Quite right. I hope they abide by that decision. If religious registrars marry divorced people, they should have no excuse not to marry gay couples.

    During the committee hearings in London, Tory MP Tim Loughton was arguing for an amendment to provide an opt out for registrars with strongly held religious beliefs to not perform a civil marriage, citing the Ladele case. What he and Burrowes wanted were amendments exempting every public employee from anything to do with civil marriage for gay couples. Loughton and Burrowes think they’re not homophobic because they support CPs, go figure.

    1. Robert, if I were an MP (LOL) I’d be like Eric Joyce, punching all around me. Loughton, Burrowes and Shannon would feel the full force of my fists! :-D

      I’d punch them into the next century, however I think they need dragged into not only this century, but also the last one.

      By the way, I’m not a violent person – far from it – but just the mention of Loughton and Burrowes has a terrible effect on me!

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 15 Mar 2013, 9:13pm

        I totally concur, James. Every time Loughton and Burrowes open their mouths, I cringe. Two very pompous windbags. Burrowes has a very irritating mumble too. It was great watching Chris Bryant take on Loughton. When I first encountered Burrowes, my gaydar was very active even though he’s a married man.

        1. I’m sure your gaydar is in good working order! The more Burrowes and his pals try to derail equal marriage legislation, the more apparent it becomes that they have something to hide – and they probably think their heterosexual marriages are the perfect hiding place. The Iris Robinson and Keith O’Brien scandals have made me seriously doubt the convictions of any bigot. The louder bigots shout, the more they have to hide in my opinion, as that gets proved time and time again.

    2. Athanasius 19 Mar 2013, 9:46pm

      Robert, the analogy with the marriage of divorcees is a very compelling argument. I used to respect (though disagree with) a church minister whom I knew to have conservative views on the gay issue. My respect evapourated when i heard his liberal views on divorce. His were double-standards emanating not from Christian conviction but bigotry dressed-up in religious clothing.

  2. Civil Registrars are public servants. The taxpayer pays their wages. They serve ALL of the community, not who they’d prefer to serve. If they don’t like it, they should resign and get a job in a church or religious organisation. If they won’t resign, then SACK THEM!

  3. Bill Cameron 15 Mar 2013, 7:50pm

    I think this is very interesting and encouraging (I live in a part of the vast area served by Highland Council).

    I think it is interesting in particular because when Civil Partnerships were first introduced there were problems with some registrars in the Outer Hebrides (Lewis/Stornoway I seem to recall – aka the ‘Bible Belt’ of Britain) refusing to officiate at civil partnerships. The Scottish Executive (now Government) broke that ‘strike’ by stating that it would not tolerate such actions by public servants and sent in registrars from the mainland to carry out the duties some local registrars had declined to perform, so that the law could be applied correctly throughout the whole country. I imagine the statement by Highland Council is designed to leave no doubt in the minds of registrars what their duties are, if they wish to retain their employment.

    1. Bill, did the registrars in the Hebrides who declined to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies retain their jobs?

  4. It’s good that Highland Council does not believe that registrars should be able to opt out of carrying out same sex marriage ceremonies.

    But it’s very disappointing that it’s even up for discussion in the first place.

    The Scottish government should have been unequivocal in it’s support right from the start, but it wasn’t.

    First it was a consultation and they said they “tended towards it but we’ll listen to all views and no decisions have been made”, then months of indecision and delays before they announced their intentions, and now another consultation to ask things like this, which shouldn’t even need to be asked in the first place.

    Why is every step of this up for discussion with everyone who wants to have their say? They don’t do this with most other legislation, so why do it with this?

  5. Ladele took her case to Europe, having lost it eventually totally in the uk. It was ruled that her religion was not discriminated against, but that she had an obligation to DO HER JOB, whatever her beliefs. So there is a pile of case law against any new claim.

    1. Given what you’ve said, it’s got to be asked why the Scottish government are even considering such a proposal, knowing that it would be against EU law.

      Since the Scottish government are so keen to give all sorts of people opt outs on equality law, does that mean I can choose which laws to opt out of too? No, that’s just plain stupid and wrong – so surely it’s just as wrong for anyone to get an opt out on equality? But even when a government gives us that equality, we never get full equality because of these opt outs.

      1. Equality Network 16 Mar 2013, 1:13pm

        On the specific issue of the Scottish Govt’s position on this, in their consultation on the draft bill, it says:

        “3.08 It has been suggested by some consultees that there should be a specific opt-out for civil registrars in this legislation. The suggestion is that there should be a provision in this Bill laying down that civil registrars do not have to solemnise same sex marriage.

        3.09 The Scottish Government does not agree with this suggestion…

        3.10 Therefore, the draft Bill at Annex L has no opt-outs for civil registrars.”

        1. Thanks for clarifying this issue. I’m glad that the Scottish government does not agree with opt outs.

          This consultation process does however mean that these issues are being discussed when it could have been avoided.

          It’s extremely unusual for legislation to be put to 2 public consultations like this – I was told by the Scottish government in a reply to an FOI request that consultation can take many forms, it doesn’t have to be a public consultation and that consultation is not even a necessary requirement at all. So you do have to ask why this legislation is having to jump every possible hurdle when it’s not necessary.

          1. And if the Scottish government don’t agree with these opt outs, why are they even asking the public what they think? We have representative government where we elect people to make the laws. But the Scottish government keep saying what they think about equal marriage but then open it up for discussion. They don’t do this with their other policies like minimum unit pricing for alcohol. They state their position and say it’s happening, they don’t ask for all views before taking a final decision.

            When you compare their unequivocal and strong position on alcohol pricing to their muted stance on equal marriage, it does make you wonder why they can’t be so committed to gay equality.

          2. Tim Hopkins 16 Mar 2013, 4:45pm

            It is frustrating that it is taking so long for the Scottish bill to be introduced in the Parliament. And some people take the view that equality issues should not be consulted on, just delivered. Indeed, some people feel that equality should be guaranteed by a written constitution.

            The Scottish legislative process is very consultative, in part because we don’t have a second revising chamber in the Parliament. But some other countries with single chamber Parliaments seem to operate faster (eg Denmark).

            Lots of Scottish bills get consulted on in draft, including at the moment the equal marriage bill and the Courts Reform Bill, and last year for example the Referendum Bill that is about to be introduced in the Parliament.

            You’re right though that the amount of consultation varies. There was a consultation on minimum alcohol pricing in 2008 before the bill was introduced; no draft bill consultation in that case & now there’s another consultation on what the minimum price should be.

          3. I just feel that the Scottish government haven’t dealt with the equal marriage legislation in the best way right from the start.

            They have been very cautious, to say the least, and haven’t shown strong, unequivocal support for it the way they do with all their other policies – minimum alcohol pricing, independcence, the single Scottish Police force, the legal aid reforms etc.

            For all of these, they laid out their intentions and said it was happening. For equal marriage they said they tended towards it but would wait to hear all views before making a decision. It gave the impression they hadn’t made up their minds on the issue.

            If they’d said it was happening but still held a consultation, then that wouldn’t have been anywhere near as bad. Byt they gave the impression that the consultation would make up their minds.

            Now this second consultation is doing exactly the same thing. They say they’re not in favour of registrars opting out, but are still asking for opinions on it. Why?

          4. If you compare the consulting on minmum pricing with the consulting on equal marriage, they’re very different.

            With minimum pricing it’s the details that are up for discussion – what the price shoudl be, not if they should do it at all.

            With equal marriage, they were asking if they should do it at all. Even this matter of registrars opting out, they are asking if they should be allowed to, even though their own position is against that.

            So there is a real difference in the attitudes the Scottish government have shown between equal marriage and other policies. That’s what gets to me most of all.

  6. Frankly, I’m glad to see someone somewhere in the world treating this sort of thing rationally. These sorts of self-centered, infantile “Christians” pop up all the time here in the States and get treated with kid gloves. I’m more than a little sick of it.

    1. In my opinion, the Scottish government has been treating the various religions who are opposed to equal marriage with kid gloves.

      When the Scottish government launched it’s first consultation on it back in September 2011, one of the first things they did was hold meetings with the Catholic church, Church of Scotland and Glasgow Mosque to listen to their concerns.

      Why do the needs of people opposed to gay equality need to be listened to when bringing in equality legislation? Is not like they add anything to it.

      A government wouldn’t listen to the concerns of the KKK when bringing in race equality laws, would they?

  7. GulliverUK 16 Mar 2013, 2:39pm

    Civil (the clue is in the name) Registrars have no right to impose their religious beliefs on their employers – that was the ruling of the ECHR – so there is no debate – it should be considered settled.

    Louty Loughton and the other religious extremists on the committee are trying to derail the bill, or at least add in as many exceptions as they can, for their wingnutty friends. Those amendments need to be rejected, because if it’s not as close as possible to full equality then the battle will rage on for years and years and years, becoming more polarised, with most people more and more opposed to religion protections of any sort.

  8. Glad that Highland Council a SNP/Labour/Lib Dem Council has stood up for LGBT equality in the consultation well done to Highland council :)

    Lets hope the Scottish Government takes note :)

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