Myths and Realities about Equal Marriage
20 May 2013
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is back before Parliament today for the “Report Stage”. The latest version of the Bill is here, updated explanatory notes here, and the full list of proposed amendments here. Predictably, the amendments are the focus of much controversy.
I have written a new article for the New Statesman on some of the myths and realities surrounding the debate – you can read it here. It’s all a bit complicated, as you might expect.
One day, not long from now, it will be hard to remember what worried people so much about gay and lesbian couples committing themselves to marriage.
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All gots createaure have the right to chose there own sex beliefs gays have just as much righs as anybody else weather bi, bi curious or homosexual regards scotty6070
“It’s all a bit complicated” – complex? ;-) Surely Jon Holbrook hits the mark with “The Civil Partnership Act 2004 has met the legitimate desire of lesbians and gays for an institution comparable to marriage. As Baroness Deech, an expert in family law, has noted, civil partnerships differ in law from marriage in only two respects: they can only be civil, never religious, and adultery is not a ground for dissolution. The first difference is rarely cited as problematic, but in so far as there are churches that want to preside over civil partnerships that could be achieved with modest legislative reform. The second difference, adultery, is a difference that remains in the new Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill. So the minor legal differences between civil partnerships and marriage provide no basis for the government’s gay marriage legislation. To all intents and purposes, civil partnership affords lesbians and gays equal treatment.”
I accept that the Civil Partnership Act provides no meaningful ceremony of mutual committment: the Act should be amended.
This bill seems to me like a bill enacting that dromedaries will be called camels: you’d still have one species with two humps and one with one! Respect is not shown by just calling something that is different the same as something else..
This is absolutely correct. The cost of the Act will be in the multi-millions and the time involved is disproportionate to the need for the legislation – neither of which the country can afford in its present economic situation. The whole thing is a farce and totally unnecessary. This is not a question of equality or discrimination at all!
In a Spiked article, Gay marriage and the tyranny of sameness, I have argued that equality is no longer a progressive demand but rather is used to demolish differences between people:
Would it really, really hurt to allow existing Registrars of Marriage to say no? If not by a conscience clause then admininstratively? Islington sacked Ms Ladele, but other authorities found it possible so to allocate the work that nobody’s conscience was forced. Is that not preferable?
After all: would you want to be married by a Registrar who, be s/he never so polite and professional, who thought you would roast in hell?
Why is a Registrar’s conscience worth less than that of a member of the clergy?
To take your reasoning to its logical, slippery slope, conclusions, one might have asked in the not so recent past why couldn’t Registrars (or Policemen) employed before the Race Relations Act refuse to perform inter-racial marriages, etc, or in Northern Ireland, why can’t staff who have religious objections to providing goods & services to Roman Catholics opt out of providing them if they were recruited when discrimination was the legally enforced norm (by Stormont)?
Employees in public service are obliged to implement the law of the land as it evolves, a point reiterated in the past by the ECoHR. If you allow people to opt out ostensibly for religious reasons, then in the first instance the courts will have to decide what constitutes a legitimate religious belief, and secondly all public sector employees would have to become temporary employees or put on annual contracts, so that only those willing to obey the law would be employed. This is a litigants paradise. If you are employed to carry out civil marriage, you need to leave your ideological convictions at home. Civil is not religious. Why are those registrars who object to performing civil ceremonies for homosexual couples but not do so for divorcees deemed to be doing so for religious reasons? If the reasons are religious then marrying divorcees is no different, theologically, from marrying homosexuals. If you apply for a job performing civil marriage you must obey the law or work for a religious employer. This is of course iniquitous, but no less iniquitous that the fact that religious employers are allowed to discriminate against non-adherents (although the EU directive sets conditions the UK government have not met, and have yet to be challenged on).
In my younger days it was legal for hotels to refuse to allow me to stay there on the grounds that I was a practicing Roman Catholic. We should not return to those days.
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