The House of Lords will debate again shortly
Baroness Farrington says she sees no evidence of the Bill’s intention to subvert the views and beliefs of teachers.
Baroness Farrington reminds the Lords that not all parents who send their children to Church schools do not necessarily do so on the condition of their faith, but also on the simple issue of vocation.
Lord Eden says it is “unfortunate” that sex education is even taught in schools.
“I am sure that I’m not alone in the volume of letters I have received regarding this bill,” says Baroness Knight. “Quite a lot have come from very worried teachers about the debate.”
She urges that it is important that teachers know very well what they are or are not being forced to teach.
Baroness Richardson brings up the point that parents should be alerted as to what Church schools are teaching is “right or wrong” given that the amendments are made.
The Lords are debating the clarity of “the tenets of the religion” based on the various differing denominations of religion.
The amendments will not affect any schools’ obligations to teach the legal mandate of same sex marriage, says Baroness Cumberlege, but they will not be under any duty to advocate same sex marriage.
Bishop Ripon and Leeds: “Church schools must be in a position to teach about marriage in a way which is in accordance to the ethos of the Church” – that marriage is between a man and a woman.
He says that it does not count as an exemption nor does it allow church schools to operate “outside” of the law.
Bishop Ripon and Leeds outlines Amendment 46B for education in church schools.
Amendment 46A withdrawn.
Baroness Deech, addressing the issue of domestic abuse, says that “abuse happens in families anyway.”
Baroness Deech: “We are not talking about sisters involved in incest.” She urges that the whole law has changed, so it must be opened to others.
“What if situations change?” asks Lord Wallace. “Two sisters enter into a civil partnership and then later one wants to marry.”
He suggests there needs to be an exit strategy as well as an entry point.
Lord Wallace says the amendment is “tantamount to tax arrangement.”
Baroness Thornton: “I just wonder why this issue has not been raised in the passage of many bills prior.”
“There have been many times” when the amendment could have been raised, she says.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton says she cannot comprehend how “incest” can be validated.
Lord Mackay: “This bill is not about gay marriage. It is about same-sex marriage. It includes people in platonic same-sex relationships.”
Lord Elystan-Morgan: “It may be that this does not fall under the act. It may be that the civil partnership deals with a sexual relationship.”
He suggests that they are aiming at the wrong act.
Lord Marks: The suggestion has the tendency to undermine what civil partnerships are.
He suggests the amendment should be rejected. Resolving this separate injustice will undermine the intent of the Bill.
Baroness Knight: “I, too, strongly support what the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, has said, and I supported the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, in her earlier efforts. It is extremely disappointing to be told, “Not now, another time” or, “Not tomorrow” or, “In a little while”. How do we know that it is going to be a little while? We have no idea. Reviews do not normally take a little while and even then they may not be successful.
I do not doubt the sincerity of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, and his genuine support for the idea behind this, but we are told every time, “Yes, we agree with what you say but this is not the vehicle in which to do it”. What we need to be told is, if this is not, what is? We need some idea of that because the injustices mount as the years go by. Many people, who would have been helped if the original amendment had gone through, are now gone. They are dead, finished; they faced burdens which they need not have faced. I, for one, am not prepared to sit here year after year and hear, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”. Tomorrow never comes.”
Lord Alli: “I believe that before we see same sex marriages in our Churches, we will see the opening up of civil partnerships.” He says that while he says he supports the civil partnerships for heterosexual couples, as it stands, same sex civil partnerships currently have a unique role to play.
Lord Anderson of Swansea says it is not equal if heterosexual couples do not have a choice, like same sex partners, for a civil partnership.
Lord Alli: “I believe that carers are an undervalued sector of society”, but he adds that there is a significant difference between civil partnerships as we know it and the amendment proposed.
Baroness Butler-Sloss says that the effect of the government would be to defer the amendment, not to remove it.
Baroness Deech says the state should not prefer sexual relationships which may be short-lived over blood relationships.
Amendment 46A addressed to the House of Lords for the civil partnerships and rights of families in the same house.
Amendment 46ZA withdrawn.
The quicker the spouse knows about their partner’s transition the better, Baroness Butler-Sloss says.
Baroness Stowell says that it is about the decision of two people and the future of their marriage.
Baroness Stowell reminds that they have already made an amendment to the bill to protect the pension rights of Trans partners.
Addressing whether a spouse is ‘notified’ under current application, she says it is currently not so. The process requires the marriage to be annulled before a gender recognition certificate can be confirmed.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston says it is in incredibly sensitive issue.
“Our concern in this bill is to ensure that as many couples stay married as long as possible” she says. “It is not a block or a veto. Nobody is able to stop anybody getting their gender recognition certificate.”
She adds that the cisgender spouse also has a right to have a say in the future of their marriage following their trans spouse’s gender recognition,
Baroness Thornton says it affects a minority of people, but it is a very, very painful effect.
Baroness Butler-Sloss agrees that the House should recognise those who are left behind.
“There should be a notification of the gender recognition to the spouse.”
Even a divorcing spouse is capable of vetoing a person’s gender reassignment, Baroness Gould reminds us. “It is utterly wrong, in principle, to hang someone’s gender recognition on someone who may be hostile to that person.”
Baroness Gould of Potternewton emphasises that the amendment is crucial as a moral issue.
“No other law requires spousal consent to a change in a marriage,” she says. “It is a new concept in law.”
Amendment 46ZA put forward by Baroness Barker for gender reassignment recognition.
The amendment aims to defend those are Trans from spousal veto against gender reassignment.
Lord Alli: Putting people through the court system to try to equalise them in their grief does not seem particularly humane.
“I am only asking the government to show some compassion for what is a tiny amount of money.”
Amendment is withdrawn.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston admits that it is difficult to estimate the costs, but she says there are a range of different measures under equal marriage (including opposite sex couples getting civil partnerships) which could lead to an estimate of £4 billion.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: In making it possible for same sex couples to marry, we have sought to build on existing legislation and not restructure the existing marriage law.
“Governments do not make changes to pensions schemes retrospectively.”
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon says that the Bill takes discrimination forward when it forecloses the extension of equal pensions rights.
The amendment is not a retrospective measure, but follows the entire ethos of the Bill’s legislation.
Baroness Lister of Burtersett: it is unclear as to potential pension costs of “£3 billion to £4 billion” comes from.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: That this inequality remains on the statute book will surprise and sadden those who believe the equal marriage bill will give equal rights and benefits to same-sex partners.
“Government should not only refrain from discrimination, it should refuse the discrimination of the private sector.”
Lord Alli: Pensions actuaries deal constantly in uncertainties around their lives.
He says he does not understand why we cannot treat same sex couples the same as heterosexual couples. “They have all paid the same pension contributions.”
“It is not a huge issue. It does not set the world alight. […] But it is a kindness.”
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF MONDAY’S COVERAGE
Lord Alli raises Amendment 45 to House of Lords regarding marriage pensions to the House of Lords.
The House of Lords is now taking a break until later this evening, as is the PinkNews Live Blog. There will be updates on PinkNews later on the progress of the bill!
Amendment 19A, which would have allowed Humanist weddings has been withdrawn, with Lord Harrison saying he will revisit the idea at Report stage.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston is wrapping up her comments on the Humanist amendment to the bill, after being questioned on several peers, on the reason for the opposition to the change, but has said the Government will reconsider the amendment.
Baroness Thornton is arguing that the Humanist amendment to the bill is “within the scope” of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, if it is approved in the House of Lords.
Lord Eden: “This Bill must not be thrown off its path by attempts to make wider changes to marriage in the UK.”
Bishop Guildford is arguing against the Humanist amendment, saying it should not be “slip streamed” onto the equal marriage bill.
Lord Singh refuted the idea that churches or religions need to “market themselves”, calling it “absurd”.
Baroness Massey is speaking in favour of the Humanist amendment.
Lord Harrison reminds how most religions, no matter how diverse and idiosyncratic, are accounted for under law. He adds, “at least a quarter of us have no religion. What of us?”
Lord Harrison is introducing an amendment to allow Humanist weddings to take place, saying it is a “matter of the heart”, which causes “heartache to none”.
Amendment 13 withdrawn.
Baroness Barker calls for “clarity”, and says: “I utterly support the rights of religious organisations to take a very different view to myself.”
“I hope that churches which do take those decisions [against opting-in to equal marriage] make it known publicly and loudly. I have spent my life trying not to offend religious organisations. It was never my intention as a gay person, to cause offence”.
“I would like churches to make it abundantly clear to me, as a gay person, to make it clear [what their position is].”
Lord Pannick: “Whether or not to give a blessing is not a public function. It is a religious function.”
Lord Deben said that the church’s refusal to give blessing should in no way give recourse to the law. He compared it to the refusal of a minister to give a blessing to a polygamous couple.
Baroness O’Loan withdraws amendment 13.
Baroness O’Loan: “The Bill assumes that the act of marrying is separate from the act of registering a marriage.” She clarifies that these are the same thing.
She added that the distinction between England and Wales churches is pivotal on the positions of either regarding opting in or out of registering same-sex marriage.
Lord Wallace said the thought “it would be unthinkable” for a court to go against the “architecture” of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, and take on a case against a religious organisation or individual who objected to performing a same-sex marriage.
Baroness Knight asked “how is it that registrars who will not perform these marriages because of [objections] in their hearts and in their conscience have been sacked.”
Lord Wallace denied that was the case, reminding Baroness Knight that the legislation has not yet been made law, so that could not have happened.
Baroness Royall said that the amendments are unnecessary and will add confusion. The Bill will not treat any religious group less favourably regarding its beliefs on same sex marriage, she added. “The equality act is a very carefully crafted piece of legislation.”
To single out the belief that marriage should be heterosexual undermines the beliefs of religions as a whole.
Baroness Royall has thanked the house for a “courteous” debate. She defended the bill, saying the bill needs no amendment for “protection against compulsion”.
She continued to say: “There is already clarity on the face of the bill,” but that she respects the concerns of those supporting Amendment 13.
Lord Cormack: “There is concern that this Bill will not give the strongest possible protection to those who believe that same sex marriage is fundamentally different to marriage between a man and a woman.”
Lord Cormack says he “regrets” that he has arrived at the conclusion that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will become law.
Lord Pannick asked for the House to be reasonable in its consideration of concerns raised by Amendment 13.
Lord Pannick said: “The whole point of this legislation is that a person should not be compelled to [perform a same-sex wedding]”, if they do not wish to do so.
“Marrying a person may well be a public function as clause 2-6 recognises, but a decision of whether you opt-in or not is not in itself a public function.”
He referred to the “statutory immunity” offered by the quadruple lock, contained within the legislation.
Lord Deben:”Toleration is accepting the views of those you disagree with fundamentally and totally.” Deben turns the House’s attention to the word “courtesy,” urging a more courteous dispute.
Lord Alli said, in response to Baroness Berridge’s Amendment 13, which would mean any person of faith could opt out of providing public services of marriage, that there are “no cast iron guarantees in law”, that can be offered to the Baroness.
Amendment 19, to allow Humanists to perform marriages in England and Wales, may be debated today.
A previous amendment concerning humanist marriage ceremonies was withdrawn during the third and final reading of the bill in the House of Commons, after the attorney general warned that it would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Baroness Berridge is clarifying, as she was asked to, that she thinks religious groups within minority communities, and registrars are taking a “risk”.
“The government needs to give reassurance to these groups”, continuing to claim that the quadruple lock could become “ineffective”.
Arguing against the bill, Baroness Knight said: “We must look at a road full of broken promises” in the past. (She previously asserted that doctors and nurses in 1967 were promised the option to opt-out of performing abortions, but that the promise was broken).
The Conservative peer voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in last Tuesday’s House of Lords vote. She hit the headlines when she said a higher authority” than any peer, had “already decided that people are not equal”, because “some people can see, others are blind”.
She dismissed suggestions of homophobia on BBC Radio 5 Live by saying: “We’ve all got friends who are homosexuals. They are often extremely, very, very good at artistic things, very good at things like antiques, knowledgeable. No reason at all to say that they’re not loving.”
There will be no votes today on any of the amendments tabled. It is unlikely that peers will get around to debating the pensions amendment today.
Lord Singh said that those who believe Equality Act will use it to convert those who believe in traditional marriage to their way of thinking
Baroness O’Loan is discussing the Equality Act (Clause 2, Amendment 13)
The House of Lords is beginning its committee debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
The equal marriage bill is next up in the House of Lords. Get ready!
The House of Lords is in session and the peers have several items on the agenda, but the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is due to come up soon.
THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF WEDNESDAY’S COVERAGE
The House of Lords is to resume its committee stage debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill soon. Watch this space.
Decisions on amendments regarding religious protections will be made soon, followed by discussion of the Marriage Act 1949. The live blog is taking a break but there will be updates on PinkNews later!
In response to Lord Dear’s amendments she points out that two tiers of marriage would effectively be created, undermining the point of the bill.
In response to Lord Mackay’s amendment, Baroness Stowell says that belief in marriage as between a man and a woman will continue to be “mainstream”. Public appointees will be able to continue to express their views as long as it doesn’t affect their job.
The 98.5% of the country who aren’t gay must be free from the fear of being dismissed because of their opposition to the 1.5% who are getting married, says one Lord – name to be clarified.
Baronesses Thornton and Stowell are now wrapping up the group of amendments concerning religious protections.
Baroness Barker: The right of religious groups to express their opposition to homosexuality is protected.
However, as a tax-paying citizen, she argues she should not be treated differently by public servants. On those grounds, she opposes Lord Dear’s amendment.
Baroness Barker, who came out as gay in the last reading, says some of the most homophobic material sent to her is said in the name of churches.
Lord Singh said his amendment protecting belief in traditional marriage is completely necessary, while Lord Lester says it is completely unnecessary.
Lord Lester says the bill is designed to get rid of unfair treatment, not create more. He adds that if “idiots in the public sector” interpret the law wrongly, that is another issue.
Name calling and abuse directed at people who support the 1949 Marriage Act is astonishing, says Lord Singh. He worries that this will lead to violence if same-sex marriage proponents choose to defend “the moral high ground”.
31 out of 35 US States to vote on equal marriage voted against, says Lord Singh.
Lord Singh: “People will be coerced” into saying they support same-sex marriage as “there is a lack of respect and tolerance for diverse views on this matter”.
Lord Singh is arguing to change the Equality Act to include believing that marriage is between a man and a woman as a protected characteristic.
Lord Anderson, an equal marriage opponent, passionately said: “We are not bigots, we are people who happen to hold a traditional view of marriage”.
He also claims gay and bisexual people are overpowering religious believers through “tyranny of a minority”.
Lord Dear defended his amendments proposing to give protections to critics of same-sex marriage “from doctors to roadsweepers”.
Baroness Thornton responded that Lord Dear ought to read the Equality Act, which offers the protection he seeks already.
Lord Dear scathingly replied that the Equality Act is “not as watertight” as it was intended.
Baroness Berridge: Amendments are needed to make it clearer that criticism of equal marriage is not hate speech, even when “passions get inflamed”. She welcomes the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act to this effect.
Lord Alli: The amendments adding protections for equal marriage critics “will alarm the public and insert inflammatory language… I call it the Section 28 effect”.
The group of amendments being discussed now aim to give protections to critics of equal marriage. Lord Alli says in opposition to the amendments that it is already unlawful to discriminate against people because of their beliefs.
Lord Cormack’s amendment giving extra (quintuple lock?) protection to Roman Catholic priests has been withdrawn.
While our site was briefly down here’s what happened:
Lord Dear’s amendment defining opposite-sex marriage as “traditional marriage” and registered separately creates an “unwelcome distinction”, said Baroness Stowell. Opposite-sex marriages don’t need protecting, she added.
Lord Dear countered that his amendment only creates the “possibility” if the couple chooses to distinguish their marriage as “traditional”.
Baroness Stowell said it still creates “distinction” and says the government does not want to keep couples apart.
She asked that the amendments suggesting different tiers of marriage be withdrawn as “seperate but equal can be a cloak of inequality”.
Lord Hylton withdrew his amendment.
Lord Mackay’s amendment was not moved.
Baroness Stowell: “There is only one institution of marriage. There is no middle way.”
Baroness Stowell: Gay men and women don’t want to change marriage, they just want to be part of something they feel is important. At the moment couples in civil partnerships can only say they are “sort of” married.
Baroness Stowell: This bill is about safeguarding the future of marriage by reflecting what younger generations value.
Baroness Thornton suggests that the movers of amendments discussed so far are “jealously guarding” marriage for heterosexual couples, and are thereby implying that same-sex unions are inferior. “Whether the movers intend it or not they are creating two classes of marriage”, she says.
Lord Alli points out that “traditional marriages” in the past included Emperor Nero tying the knot with another man, and asks if Lord Dear had that in mind.
Lord Alli points out that Lord Carey, a longstanding opponent of same-sex marriage, described amendments to change the name of same-sex marriages to “unions” as “mischievous and dangerous”.
Lord Alli states that Lord Mackay bringing up child abuse in a same-sex marriage debate was “offensive”.
Lord Mackay responds he never linked the two, to which Lord Alli replies he shouldn’t have brought it up at all.
The “unintended consequences” of same-sex marriage being legalised in Argentina were huge, says Lord Dear. He quotes an Argentinian paper which claims homonormativity won over heteronomativity throughout society because of the redefinition of marriage.
He says the “freedom and liberty” of couples to enter traditional marriages must be respected. If the bill passes they will have to use the Church of England, or they will be “forced” to use the “gender neutral definition of marriage”.
Lord Dear says the bill would be a “fusion of two completely different strands into one nomenclature”.
Peers now seem to be leaning towards Lord Mackay’s amendment, which proposes to distinguish a same-sex union as a “same-sex marriage” rather than just a marriage.
Baroness Butler-Sloss says having a different name for same-sex marriage is a matter of “truth” – nevermind if people don’t want to declare their sexuality through the name of their partnership.
Baroness Butler-Sloss says that in her work as a judge she considered same-sex couples equally suitable for taking care of children. However, she says supporters of the bill are “hooked” on the word marriage, when distinguishing between different types of union would be better.
The Archbishop of York says “sorry” to LGBT people historically abused by the Church. However, he says that same-sex unions should have a new name, as it is a “novelty”.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern says he’s distressed about child abuse, and adds it has nothing to do with the bill but it shows children’s rights need to be considered carefully.
Lord Singh says Punjabi Sikhs have different words for uncles and aunts depending on which side of the family they come from. he argues that this gives “precision”, but doesn’t make them “less equal” – and claims the same is true for having different words for same-sex and opposite-sex unions.
How to reconcile the need for equality and the recognition of differences? “Two forms of marriage” is the answer, says Lord Higgins, in support of the amendment.
“What would Humpty Dumpty call a second marriage?” asks Baroness Shackleton. If remarrying for divorced heterosexuals is legal, why not give same-sex couples a first attempt?
Someone is sneezing over Baroness Turner, who says Lord Hylton’s amendment is “not an amendment at all” because it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. “Marriage is what we’re talking about.”
Lord Mawhinney says he knows about the upcoming Government amendment protecting critics of equal marriage, but he doesn’t believe it will provide enough refuge for free speech.
Lord Mawhinney agrees with Lord Dobbs’ concerns about political correctness, but for different reasons. He argues that religious and racial anti-discrimination laws have lead to wrongful accusations, and he is concerned the same will happen to “the ordinary men and women of this country” who aren’t politically correct about same-sex marriage.
Lord Mawhinney voted against the bill at second reading, and has attached his name to an amendment suggesting “traditional marriage” and “same sex marriage” be used as separate terms. “In biological reality… there are differences” between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, he says now.
Strong argument from, Lord Dobbs, who says “Of course marriage was traditionally between a man and a woman” since same-sex couples faced punishment, ostracisation and violence if they went public with their relationship in the past.
“Anything but marriage will not do” says Baroness Richardson.
The amendment is a “wolf” which goes against the courage of people who came out because of the same-sex marriage debate, says Lord Black of Brentwood.
Lord Lester: Civil “unions” wouldn’t add anything to the civil “partnerships” same-sex couples can already have.
It’s been pointed out that calling same-sex unions anything other than “marriage” is making them “lesser”, not just “different, as “Marriage is the crowning of our relationships”.
Another point from Lord Elystan-Morgan on why change in marriage can be a good thing: Until 1991 a husband could rape his wife and not face prosecution!
Correction: Lord Brown, not Lord Browne!
Lord Elystan-Morgan points out that, until the 1800s, only the Church of England could perform marriages – which his Welsh ancestors strongly opposed.
The Lord Hylton amendment undermines the core purpose of the bill, which is to create marriage equality, argues Lord Browne.
Baroness Williams maintains that “equality is not the same as sameness”, and supports the amendment to use “union” instead of “marriage” for same-sex couples.
Churches should ask for forgiveness for historical abuse of gay people, says Baroness Williams.
Baroness Williams argues that, as well as biological differences, men and women approach relationships differently – making opposite-sex couples the most “stable” parents.
Lord Waddington rebukes lord Alli and says new marriages have declined in Spain, meaning straight people are put off by same-sex marriage!
Lord Alli is pointing out that the decline of marriage in Spain was caused by relaxed divorce laws, rather than the introduction of same-sex marriage.
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster seems to be comparing David Cameron to Humpty Dumpty, as the PM claims the word “marriage” means what he says it means.
Lord Phillips, who also supports using a different word to marriage to describe same-sex couples, is addressing the objection that children are not the crucial point of marriage because not all heterosexual couples can have children. He says that “escapes the point that same-sex unions can NEVER have procurative potential”.
Lord Cormack is claiming that the divide in the House of Lords over same-sex marriage is deeper than the vote suggested. He argues that Lord Hylton’s amendment introducing ‘unions’ would go “profoundly beyond” civil partnerships without infringing on marriage. “There are differences [between same-sex and opposite-sex couples] that cannot be eradicated”, he says.
Lord Hylton is suggesting that the word “union” is strong enough to describe the bond between same-sex couples, as it compares to the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK. He’s hoping that particular union doesn’t end in divorce!
Baroness Stowell is getting everyone to go through the bill line by line. First up, Lord Hylton, who wants the word “union” to be used instead of “marriage” for same-sex couples.
The House of Lords will be debating the same-sex marriage bill soon. Watch this space!