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It isn’t just that Cameron is wrong when he claims we won’t be forced to conduct ‘gay marriages’ in church: that’s just what he’s telling his constituents

The ECHR has made the law quite clear: unless we repudiate the court, that’s what will happen

By on Monday, 18 June 2012

David Cameron is apparently telling constituents that the same-sex marriage law will affect religious marriage too (PA photo)

David Cameron is apparently telling constituents that the same-sex marriage law will affect religious marriage too (PA photo)

How far can we trust the government of David Cameron when it claims that its proposed legislation purporting to establish “gay marriage” will not apply to marriages in church — as though that was our main concern? It isn’t, of course: marriage is marriage: what we are objecting to among much else is the sheer impertinence of a local legislature, at one particular point in history, claiming to have the authority to change what through the ages has been universally accepted: that marriage (civil or religious) is between one man and one woman. What Cameron now intends to do is to make a distinction between religious and civil marriage of a kind that nobody has previously accepted: marriage is marriage. A civil marriage is accepted by the Church as being as valid as a religious one. Now that will change.

Cameron has so far claimed that his legislation will establish clearly that gay marriage in church will not be permitted: the fact that that is supposed to mollify us is one demonstration among many that he is blundering around in an area of the national life he really doesn’t begin to understand. But at least we have been able to suppose that he actually does believe what he says, that at least he isn’t just being a hypocrite. But even that may not, it seems, be the case. According to the traditionalist Anglican blogger Cranmer

it is highly likely that ministers of the established Church of England will eventually be obliged by statute to officiate at homosexual unions, and where they demur, the local bishop will be obliged to provide a replacement. His Grace has heard from more than one source that the Prime Minister is telling his constituents in Witney that “religious marriage” will inevitably be affected by his proposed legislation. It is interesting, is it not, that by enforcing gender blindness at the altar with the objective of making minorities equal, the Prime Minister is content to cause division in the Church and strife for the majority. It is appalling politics.

Cranmer is basing his view that the Established church only will be forced to conduct such marriages on the precedent of the established Lutheran church in Denmark, the Danish parliament having voted to compel the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to which about 80 per cent of Danes profess to belong (rather as many English people claim to belong to the C of E). “Other churches,” adds Cranmer, “may also offer same-sex marriage services, but only in accordance with their own rules: none is being forced to conduct anything which is contrary to their historical traditions and theological orthodoxy.”

But it’s not the Danes the Prime Minister is thinking of when he tells Witney constituents that his legislation is bound to affect “religious marriage”: it’s our old friend the European Court of Human Rights. I have written about this before, but I see I didn’t actually refer to the most suggestive precedent, the March 2012 ruling from the ECHR, in a suit by a French lesbian couple, Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, that although there is no human rights obligation for any country to legislate for gay marriage, once a state has passed a gay marriage law it must be applied to all citizens equally including those seeking religious marriage.

In the words of the judges in Strasbourg, “The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.” However, “where national legislation recognises registered partnerships between same sex, member states should aim to ensure that their legal status and their rights and obligations are equivalent to those of heterosexual couples in a similar situation.” According to Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, that means that “Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage… if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.”

And that doesn’t just mean that the C of E, being the state church, will have to do it: they’re going to attempt to coerce us too. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We won’t do it, of course, and we will have to take the consequences. But that gives us the opportunity to get ourselves into condition for all the other great battles ahead. What with one thing and another, what the Pope has called the tyranny of relativism — one might call it the enforced toleration of the intolerable — can only encourage us to see more clearly what we often attempt to avoid: that in the oft-repeated words of the late Holy Father, John Paul II, we are called on to be signs of contradiction: for, once we start settling down comfortably in a culture which is so manifestly built on everything we reject, our message is lost, and so are we.

  • JabbaPapa

    The fact that it can be construed to mean anything you want makes it
    particularly useless as a pointer to how we construct the rules of our society.

    The fact that you are disturbed by a text that can be interpreted in multiple different ways simply demonstrates that nobody has ever taught you how to read literature.

  • JabbaPapa

    Dictionaries are indeed *not* the primary sources of definitions nor of good grammar, but shared custom and tradition provide both.

  • JabbaPapa

    Nor of himself, for that matter !!

  • JabbaPapa

    1) JB24 : Yes it’s right to discriminate against criminals

    2) I see that you have failed to look up the Catholic definition of “discrimination”, as based on the Latin discrimen, and that instead you prefer to cling to your 1960s-1970s ideology as the basis of “good” indoctrination. This does not surprise me in the slightest.

  • Acleron


    Freedom of speech is, as always, subject to the usual censorship defined by blah blah.’
    FIFY

  • Acleron

    Unlike yourself, I have no need to make up anything, but then I do realise your whole life is based on make-believe and that projection is a way of life for the theist..

    We all know that logic is not a strong suit for you but pay close attention and you might follow the next sentence.

    Proof or absence of proof with respect to indoctrination of children by atheists has nothing to do with this part of the discussion.

    BTW Your inability to bring yourself to criticise the abuse of children in pursuit of your belief is more than adequate evidence for my assertion.

  • Acleron

    You are definitely responding to my challenge, but I don’t think you have more than two logical fallacies and one statement of fact wrong in that sentence. So another fail.

  • teigitur

    Well indeed. All lay teachers in my schools.Though some were very abusive, though none, as far as I am aware, in a sexual way.

  • teigitur

    It seeks to re-define marriage itself.

  • teigitur

    Oh there are always battles going on. Twas ever thus and ever will be.One has to make sure one is on , if not the winning, then the right side.

  • Acleron

    So you claim, but what difference does that make to you or any other heterosexual couple?

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     I asked before and you were unable to answer; can you show ANY evidence that the Supreme Court, House of Lords, and ECHR, and the Police, have ever shown ANY wish to make pastors & rabbis & ministers carry out marriages that they regard as against their faith?

    You talk as if you WANT to be forced.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     Only bullies resort to insults.

    So the people who oppose lifting the ban on same-sex marriage are mostly bullies?

    They usually resort to insults about homosexuality and same-sex relationships pretty fast.

    Indeed, your insulting doggerel is proof you’re a bully.

    Religious liberty and freedom of conscience is not “protected” by a law that bans priests, ministers, and rabbis from celebrating the marriages of same-sex couples regardless of their religious feelings or their conscience.

    It is not up to the State to dictate what words mean: nor up to you.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     Why do you want to pry into how your sons – or anyone else! – is having sex? Don’t be prurient.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     Dr Jeffrey John is not sueing the Church of England because it won’t celebrate his wedding, but because they have repeatedly denied him a job for which he was considered supremely fitted because while he keeps their rule of celibacy, he is honest about being gay.

    Apparently the C of E prefers that gay men lie if they want to be bishops…

  • teigitur

    Not a joke Damo. Quite true in some cases. If family members who belong to it are anything to go by.

  • karlf

    indulge(d) in psychological violence: scaring the daylights out of young children, and others, with “threats of hell. “People are told that if they do not follow all the Church’s teachings then they will go to hell”” This is what Muslims do (swap ‘Church’ for ‘Koran’in the quote). Hadn’t you noticed?
    What is new about being an atheist? What is satanically arrogant about trying to make sense of the world from what is presented to us as everyday experience? What is more arrogant than someone who believes they have a personal relationship with God? You are the one in the hole – it’s called dogma.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    1) On the relevance of your posting -I give up! If anyone can be bothered to re-read the chain of your posts, it’s quite obvious you’re wandering all over the place.

    2) On the ‘personal relationship’ arrogance charge, I’ve just posted a response to Oconnord’s similar claim on another thread. Here’s part of  what I said:

    ‘…you suggest that mere belief that I have a personal relationship with God is arrogance. Well, putting aside what you mean by a personal relationship (no voices in the head or special treatment in getting parking places for most Catholics!), it is true that I believe God loves me and cares for me. But I also believe that he loves and cares for you: it is less a personal relationship in the way that I have a personal relationship with my wife and you don’t, but an intimacy of relationship that God shares with all human beings.
    So no special treatment for Lazarus over Oconnord. But the difference is that you have rejected God, preferring to trust in Oconnord. Now, I quite accept (as I said earlier) that this might be done in a spirit of intellectual and moral humility -and if that were the case, I’d simply say keep your heart and your mind open and God will find you in his own time and way. But instead you regularly parade arguments that demonstrate both an extremely thin grasp of what Catholicism actually teaches coupled with an obsessive  zeal to share your insights in this Catholic space. I accept, given the limitations of internet exchange, this rather public bravado may well conceal a sensitive, humble soul seeking the truth in the cut and thrust of public debate: if this is the case, then I apologize for misreading you.’

  • Cjkeeffe

    They have civil partnerships which provides them with all teh civil rights of a married couple i.e. finacial and property rights. Parliament in passing the Civil Partnership Act in 2005 considered marriage to be a union of man and woman. That is not discrimnatory that is a fact. I am reminded of the scence in the Life of Brian when the PFJ will fight for the right of a man to have a baby even through he can’t it not being anyones fsault not even the Romans. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Whatever a relationship is betwen a man and a man or a woman and a woman is called it is not marriage. Parliament in 2005 said so. The European Court of Human Rights have also consiently sdaid so most recently in 2010 and last year.
    Thus same sex marriage is not a basic human right its just political ideolgy nothing more. Trying to dress it up as a breach of human rights is a nonsense given that international and european law says marriage is between a man and a woman.

  • Acleron

    You claim support by politicians in your definition of marriage and then deny the redefinition by politicians. So that argument is a bust.

    Human rights are exactly an outcome of political ideology. What the body politic considered to be rights some time ago and now are different. As a society we evolve, exactly as the catholic church has, it’s just that you are so slow to accept modern thinking, but accept it you do and you will no matter how much you drag your feet.

    Much as you pin your hopes on marriage being defined as only between man and woman, which enables you to discriminate against gays, society is moving on to a broader and all encompassing definition.

    Religion is becoming much less important to the UK society, marginalising yourselves will only accelerate that process.

  • teigitur

    I don t know where you get the idea that most people support this. Ten times the number of people have signed the petition to keep marriage as it is, as have signed for change.
     In Scotland 70, 000 completed the consultation document. 50, 000 of them wanted to keep the status quo.
     Only liberal politicians and the media want this. Most gay folk I know, have no interest.

  • teigitur

    He he, he is probably more of a cow than a Catholic.

  • Acleron

    This indicates the direction of the majority.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-18478748 

    The complaint of the catholic spokesman over this poll is laughter inducing nonsense.

  • Acleron

    That none of the responses, so far, have dealt with the actual fallacy becomes more obvious with every posting. 

  • Oconnord

    Again with the semantics.. Scripture does not say it was a moral act, it says he was a “righteous” man, with a “righteous soul”. Scripture not only condones that act, it shows that he is saved so he can have sex with both his daughters, shortly after his wife is killed.

    I not only judge Lot’s actions to be immoral, I judge god’s enabling of his actions to be immoral. The word immoral isn’t in the scripture, just as your judgement that he had a “modicum of faith” isn’t.

    Why is it so difficult for you to say god rewarded immoral behaviour? Are you just so determined to “toe the party line” that you’ll excuse any behaviour as long as your church tells you to?  

  • Oconnord

    Sometimes more of a truism than a joke I think. In many cases I think the same could be said of Irish catholics. But Jabba did raise some interesting questions. 

  • JabbaPapa

    YOU are the one messing around with sheer semantics, matey —

    Again : WHY on EARTH do you keep on insisting that I must have some sort of very stupid interpretation of these chapters of Genesis that nobody could possibly agree with ?

    An interpretation that nobody agrees with is an interpretation that’s WRONG.

    How difficult can it be for you to understand something so basic ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Congratulations on yet another demonstration of your buffoonery.

  • JabbaPapa

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • teigitur

    Mmnn. Well the death of Catholicism in Ireland seems somewhat exaggerated. Have just stumbled across “The Limerick Novena” Which is on-line streamed. 10 masses a day most of them packed.(Liturgy notwithstanding!) impressive for 2012.

  • teigitur

    ” Actual fallacy” Well in your view.Which you are entitled to. But thats all it is. Your view.

  • JByrne24

    Yes this is a genuine poll which actually seeks to find out the opinion of those polled – unlike some of the others which are carried-out to obtain a pre-determined outcome.
    The latter is quite easily done through: the wording, age bias, the weather, location, time of day and (oddly enough) the date.

  • JByrne24

    Well marriage TODAY is certainly a contract between only a woman and a man (and the State)  - but it will not be tomorrow; although, of course, the aforesaid component of marriage will remain unchanged.

    Denying Gay people marriage and gifting marriage only to the Straight is discrimination against the Gay.

  • JByrne24

    “I often heard it joked that in the C of E belief in god is optional.”

    I think that is the Unitarians – “one God maximum”.

  • JByrne24

    They are probably praying for the economy and the euro. With unemployment the way it is they also have a lot more free time.

  • JByrne24

    “An interpretation that nobody agrees with is an interpretation that’s WRONG.”

    No it’s not.  Many years ago everyone would have interpreted the rising and setting of the Sun etc.  as being due to the motion of the Sun around the Earth. Nobody would have agreed with any other interpretation — least of all the true one!

  • JByrne24

    I think Dr W Oddie might have been the Editor at that time.

    Dr jbyrne24

  • JByrne24

    How do you know that I’m “walking”?
    I’m also not a “baby boomer” – I came before that time.

    And NO: speech is very free; more free today in England than ever.

    No one, though, should use their free speech (as you often do) to insult, offend or abuse others – or to harm others or to incite the breaking of just laws.

  • JByrne24

    Well Karlf you’ve hit several nails bang on the head.

    You should, I believe, post here more often. 

  • C. Damicole

    I think a high proportion of views expressed on this board are  misusing the word ‘discrimination’ and that word is leading to hostile and acrimonious comments.  We are almost all discriminatory.  Some of us choose to travel first class on a train perhaps to keep away from many of those in the standard class carriages.  Most people work for the employer who discriminates against a potential employee who is not offered the job with the higher wages.  To ban that discrimination is virtually as bad as communism.

     I certainly am discriminatory as I steer clear of anyone who I know is, or acts as if he/she is, a homosexual.  It does no harm to that person and almost certainly makes him/her glad that I keep out of their way.   I am politically reactionary and I hate much of what contributors have referred to as ‘keeping up with modern developments’.  (If I don’t like national or international developments i could claim that I am being discriminated against, which of course, in real life, is baloney.). 

    On the central topic of this board, I cannot think why any pair of homos wishes to go through a marriage service in church.

  • JByrne24

    “Is there no end to his madness??”

    With you and Jabba here how CAN the madness end?

  • JByrne24

    Margaret Thatcher?

  • JByrne24

    I’m glad that you appear to recognise that there ARE very different views about several aspects of Church teaching.

    This battle seems to have some signs of preparation for gerrymandering – that cannot be right!

  • Acleron

    Argumentum ad Populum

  • JByrne24

    “Sodomy [you must mean homosexuality] is a perversion” NO, it is not.

    Some evolutionary biologists believe that homosexuality in a minority of the population might well provide a Darwinian (evolutionary) advantage.  
    In our pre-history as a species it could have helped to provide a space and opportunity for deeper thought (uncluttered by child raising) and other beneficial activity.
    It is well known today that Gay people often show outstanding sensibility and artistic and other talents.

  • JabbaPapa

    Well marriage TODAY is certainly a contract

    Marriage is, in fact, a Sacrament.

    Which you would already know, of course, if you were a Catholic.

  • Acleron

    OK< I'll put it in a context that directly applies to your comment about prodestants.

    All catholics pray, prodestants pray, therefore all prodestants are catholic.
     That is the logicalfallacy you portrayed. Any semantic analysis of your post would result in the 'TILT' signal.

  • JabbaPapa

    One is unsurprised, when once again you attempt to redefine Catholic religious spirituality in the terms of your crass modernist worldliness.

  • JabbaPapa

    I doubt that you understand how that figure of speech works, given that I didn’t use it.

    I was in fact making a standard point about hermeneutics.

  • JByrne24

    I explained before that I am not a baby-boomer – I came before that.

    You really do come over as a real know-a-lot.