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MP takes on Government over same-sex regulations

By on Thursday, 1 December 2011

Edward Leigh says MPs aren't even being given the chance to debate the new regulations

Edward Leigh says MPs aren't even being given the chance to debate the new regulations

A Catholic MP is resisting Government plans to push through a measure permitting same-sex civil ceremonies on religious premises without formal debate or scrutiny in the House of Commons.

Edward Leigh MP is seeking to prevent regulations from coming into force which lift the ban on hosting civil ceremonies on religious premises. The removal of the ban was approved in the House of Lords last year.

Lord Alli tabled an amendment to the Equality Act in March 2010 to lift the ban after some Jewish and Quaker communities voiced their support for the change in the law.

But concern has been raised among some religious groups, peers and MPs that permitting civil ceremonies on religious premises will prompt legal action against priests or ministers who refuse to register civil partnerships.

The legislative procedures used by the Government to ratify this change have provoked particular disquiet as it would exclude debate in the House of Commons.

Edward Leigh has tabled an Early Day Motion to annul the new regulations. He said: “These regulations don’t do what the Government promised which is to protect churches that do not want to register civil partnerships. It is an issue of the utmost seriousness. Yet the Commons currently isn’t even being given a chance to debate them.

“We’ve seen all this before. The Sexual Orientation Regulations went through Parliament without proper scrutiny and they closed down our adoptions agencies as a result. If the Government cares anything about the churches, it will withdraw these regulations and think again.”

If Mr Leigh’s motion galvanises the Government, a committee will be formed of approximately 30 MPs who will revisit the regulations and put their conclusions to the House of Commons.

If members object to the committee’s findings, then the regulations will be voted on by MPs but without debate on the floor of the House. But this pause in the regulations’ legislative passage is down to the discretion of the Government.

Although the situation is still uncertain in the House of Commons, Baroness O’Cathain has secured a debate for December 15 in the House of Lords which seeks to annul the regulations that will lift the current ban. Members of the house have traditionally been allowed a free vote on this issue as a matter of conscience.

Christian lobbyists are particularly concerned that Parliament re-examines Lord Alli’s amendment because they say it did not receive sufficient parliamentary scrutiny or support at the time of its passage.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: “The Government has chosen to legislate in a way that allows no scrutiny in the Commons, and very little in the Lords. There is no opportunity to amend the regulations. Peers concerned for religious freedom have no option but to try to vote them down. We must hope they succeed.

“The original amendment which gave rise to the regulations was passed in irregular circumstances. Only 95 peers voted for it, and 21 against. The Labour government pulled a surprise late night vote when only supporters of the amendment were still present. They listed a series of major flaws with the amendment, but declined to vote it down. It was reckless.

“The Coalition Government is reinforcing the error with these regulations.”

Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal Centre said that on the surface the regulations to lift the ban on civil ceremonies on religious premises were innocuous.

But, he said that the use of the Equality Act by local authorities could result in them refusing to register churches for marriage unless they perform civil ceremonies.

He said: “As they are drafted the regulations deal with concerns because they are very clear that no religious organisation will be obliged to host civil partnerships.

“The problem is that in all areas of law these days you can’t just look at these regulations in isolation because the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act will affect them.

“The real danger is the possibility of churches being sued under the Equality Act for refusing to host civil partnerships.

“But what I think is much more likely is that local authorities will refuse to register churches for marriage unless the churches are willing to host civil partnerships. This will affect Catholic churches, synagogues, and many other denominations.”

He said that in future years registration of Catholic marriages may take place outside of Mass.

  • Adam

    God Bless, Edward Leigh! He’s been a tireless promoter of the Catholic cause in the House of Commons fighting every fight from marriage to abortion. A good Catholic as well – 6 children :)

  • ms Catholic state

    Thank you Mr Leigh.  We need a Catholic vision of Britain in politics to challenge the smug secular ‘progressive’ bandwagon.  Otherwise who will?!  There are plenty of good crossparty Catholic and Protestant MPs.  They just need to be bold and propose a different vision of Britain to the nation.  Hope is desperately needed now….and secular politicians cannot offer it. 

  • James

    Might the best way to protect the Church’s position be for the UK to adopt something similar to the French approach so that any legally recognised marriage or partnership has to be entered into through a civil ceremony leaving couples free to undergo a second religious ceremony if, where their religion permits it, they wish to do so. The state would then have no role in religious marriage and no right to interfere in it.

  • Anonymous

    James – have a little think about what you’re saying :

    You’d be telling the Established Church of England that their marriage ceremonies were no longer valid at a civil level – that the Established Church isn’t really Established any more??!!!

    …the rate it’s going there is going to be an inevitable impasse: The enforcement of ‘equality’ legislation technically jeopardising the ‘style’ of the Monarch and being a technical treason felony.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t mean to be rude but is there any chance we could have another more-experienced reporter/journalist explain what’s happening?
    The final sentence is incomprehensible.

  • ms Catholic state

    I agree with this proposal….and it already happens in the UK where couples marry in the registry office first and then more importantly in the Church.  Abroad it is very common.  And it isn’t inconceivable that some Catholic couples might marry in the Church only….to avoid the tax burden on married couples (though i am not recommending it you understand :).

    Also it could be stressed that by marrying in the Church it is Sacramental and therefore cannot be dissolved.  The State cannot dissolve a marriage that has taken place in the Church.

  • Anonymous

    Anti-bishop Vincent Nichols has endorsed sodomitical relationships on the basis of “equality” and “commitment”. The anti-bishop reckons that the RC Church “fully supports” and is “very commited” to gay relationships.  Who could imagine that the real RC Church speaks with such a modernist voice?

    <>

    Read TRADITIO for the best commentary on RC news.

    Quote:

    http://traditio.com/comment/com1112.htm

    Newchurch Archbishop Publicly Endorses “Gay Marriage” — Heretic Newbishop Nichols Panders Sodomy as Catholic

    The Archbishop of Westminster, one of the leading Newchurch bishops in Great Britain, publicly endorsed “gay marriage” in a December 1, 2011, at a press conference following that country’s Newbishops meeting. One could not have heard a clearer statement against Catholic doctrine. Such anti-Catholicism on the part of Newchurch leaders is intimately connected with the New Order sect’s Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust and rises to the top, the “Paedophile Pope,” Benedict-Ratzinger. Nichols has joined the heretical Anglican Church in endorsing civil unions, tantamount to “gay marriage,” because sodomites and lesbians can be legally protected in their perversions:

    <>

    This is just more immoral false teaching from the vile New Order sect. Here is what a true Catholic Pope-Saint said about the matter:

    <>

    Good Catholics, if Benedict-Ratzinger purports to be a true Catholic pope, he will immediately fire Nichols for false and immoral teaching as a bishop. Ratzinger will, of course, not take Catholic action, and Nichols will remain in place. Draw your own conclusions about what that means about Ratzinzer’s own status. [Some information for this Commentary was contributed by LSN.]

  • Anonymous

    “Edward Leigh MP is seeking to prevent regulations from coming into force
    which lift the ban on hosting civil ceremonies on religious premises.
    The removal of the ban was approved in the House of Lords last year.”

    ## Would lifting the ban permit action which it now forbids; or require what it now forbids; or both; or some other thing ?

  • Tim

    Paul.  Why on earth is the ability to conduct the civil part of a wedding essential for the C of E to be an established church.   The C of E doesn’t have the authority to carry out MOT inspections but that hardly prevents it from being established.  Other Anglican church privilleges have been removed before (for example the right of Anglican priests to be tried for crimes in special courts) and that didn’t lead to dis-establishment.

    And anyway what would be the problem with disestablishment in England?  It worked just fine in Wales. 

  • Tim

    …whilst trampling on the religious freedoms of Quakers and Reform Jews to practice their religion in accordance with their sincere beliefs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    This proposal is where common ground can be found between religious persons and those of us who want the state to continue to be de facto a secular one. I take leave to doubt whether the proposal would be acceptable to you as it of course it confirms  the state’s  right to define marriage as the state sees fit, for example by allowing marriage between divorcees or between couples of the same sex, which I understand that some of you are a bit lathered about :-)

  • Anonymous

    Thank You Mr Leigh.
     
    Unfortunately, the unprincipled Tory Led, Lib Dem run, Coalition is an obstacle to your proposal.

    Hopefully, all will pray, and work, that your modest plan succeeds.

  • James

    I am not at all “lathered about it”. I support the total separation of church and state – French style ie de jure and de facto, not US style ie de jure but not de facto!
    I agree, however, that my suggestion would not be acceptable to those Catholics who cannot accept that we live in a democracy, not a theocracy, and that in a democracy the Church has no more right to impose its own sacramental definition of marriage on the rest of the population than the Government has a right to require the Church to change its definition of sacramental marriage. In that context it seems to me right for Archbishop Nicols to accept same sex civil partnerships (and same sex civil marriage were he to do so) and equally right for Edward Leigh to oppose legislation which could force the Church to host same sex partnership ceremonies. One might wish that the Church would do so but that, surely, is entirely a matter for the Church and not for the state.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    Thanks James – I was not aiming at you. Sorry if it came across that way. 

    Personally I have the gravest doubt that Mr Leigh, who has a long history of opposing civil rights for LGBT people, is actually interested in simply plugging any legal hole in the regulations to ensure that a church that wants to say no can really say no: he is simply trying to throw a spanner in the works and delay what Parliament has already agreed – with proper legislative scrutiny.

    I concur with the rest of your remarks and for what it is worth I agree with you that the Roman church should have the right not to have “sacramental” marriage services for gays if it wishes – just as it already has the right not to do so for atheists. 

    it is a pity that your sensible views have no chance of being taken up by your church’s hierarchy. If they were it would go some way to healing the breach between the gay community and churches such as yours; and it would reduce the distance between the Catholic  church and the mass (no pun intended) of public and in particular educated public opinion.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    The Equality Act set out the general principles (ie that CPs – gay marriages in all but name – should take place in religious buildings, although not that religions could celebrate gay marriages as such using their marriage liturgy). it needs to have a set of specific regulations – what forms to fill in, that sort of thing – which are made by HMG. It is these latter which Leigh is exercised about. The regulations will in fact take effect two days before the house of Lords debate on them.

  • Arthur

    Are we soon to see marriage, as defined by the Christian Church not being lawful, and
    therefore no marriage certificate issued? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I’d be interested, Paul, if you would kindly enlighten us, with cites, as to why the enforcement of the Equality Act might constitute treason felony under the Act of 1848; and in addition why the normal rule of statutory interpretation that a later Act impliedly repeals an earlier to the extent inconsistent should not apply in this case.

    A little learning is a dangerous thing….

  • Anonymous

    Anti-bishop Vincent Nichols has endorsed sodomitical relationships on the basis of “equality” and “commitment”. The anti-bishop reckons that the RC Church “fully supports” and is “very commited” to gay relationships. Who could imagine that the real RC Church speaks with such a modernist voice?

    <>

    Read TRADITIO for the best commentary on RC news.

    Quote:

    http://traditio.com/comment/com1112.htm

    Newchurch Archbishop Publicly Endorses “Gay Marriage” — Heretic Newbishop Nichols Panders Sodomy as Catholic

    The Archbishop of Westminster, one of the leading Newchurch bishops in Great Britain, publicly endorsed “gay marriage” in a December 1, 2011, at a press conference following that country’s Newbishops meeting. One could not have heard a clearer statement against Catholic doctrine. Such anti-Catholicism on the part of Newchurch leaders is intimately connected with the New Order sect’s Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust and rises to the top, the “Paedophile Pope,” Benedict-Ratzinger. Nichols has joined the heretical Anglican Church in endorsing civil unions, tantamount to “gay marriage,” because sodomites and lesbians can be legally protected in their perversions:

    <>

    This is just more immoral false teaching from the vile New Order sect. Here is what a true Catholic Pope-Saint said about the matter:

    <>

    Good Catholics, if Benedict-Ratzinger purports to be a true Catholic pope, he will immediately fire Nichols for false and immoral teaching as a bishop. Ratzinger will, of course, not take Catholic action, and Nichols will remain in place. Draw your own conclusions about what that means about Ratzinzer’s own status. [Some information for this Commentary was contributed by LSN.]

  • ms Catholic state

    Oh, you don’t seem to know your history very well.  It was Catholics that were persecuted in Britain for centuries.  Ever wondered what happened to Catholic England?!  So much for religious freedoms!  Pffft.

  • ms Catholic state

    Only those who comply with the Catholic teaching on marriage may marry in a Catholic Church.  Pope Benedict has said so.  This excludes polygamous marriages and divorcees from marrying in a Catholic Church…..and also homosexual couples.

    Not all ‘marriages’ are equal.  Some are sinful

  • Uhogb

    Why do homosexuals want to marry in Catholic Church if It is going against them ? If You are Christian You can’t accept homosexual act as something normal. I am not condemning people doing that but act as a sinful action.We can’t condemn people but act. Homosexuality is acting against nature and Bible definitely is against it.If We taking Holy Bible as a guide We Can’t compromise, is like making deal with the devil We jut can’t do it.We’d rather be persecuted than allowed homosexuals to marry in the churches.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I am not exactly clear how that is supposed to be a response to my factual reply to Parasum, but never mind. 

    As to what you say, the current state of the law is that no-one may force an religious body to conduct marriage services other than in accordance with their own rules. So if Ratzinger is in charge of your church and forbids it, that will be that – for now. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    And how precisely does that entitle the state to deny Quakers and Reform Jews their rights here and now, please?

  • Anonymous

    I think it quite wrong, that equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, who from what has been said in the press is a jewish Lesbian should be allowed to force through such legislation against the will of the churches of a Christian country.
    This Marxist dogma of the Frankfurt school is being pushed to limit, and supported by a Conservative government. All churches should just say NO, stick together and stick to their guns, no matter what the courts say. Show some courage, Make a stand.

  • Anonymous

    The “for now” is what worries me. Summerskill has made comments to the effect that churches may be forced into carrying out these ceremonies one day. You are right that in and of themselves these regulations don’t affect the Church, although that may not stop litigious nutcases from making attempt to extend their scope. However, it is clearly a step towards a future where churches won’t be allowed (in law, not that secular law on such matters can have any effect on the Church’s practice) to refuse.

  • Anonymous

    Oh what rot. They can – and have – non-legal ceremonies of blessing in their buildings if they wish. Besides I gather that so far only four buildings have as yet been declared available for the purposes of religious civil partnership when the regulations come into force on Monday. Hardly a minority worth trampling over the Church for, is it?

  • Anonymous

    How is it a “right”? This is the problem with this discourse. They have no right to perform these ceremonies as like civil marriages they cannot be performed in places of worship and can contain no religious content – until Monday at least. I fail to see how the “right” can be denied when no such right exists. Besides, it is futile to frame this debate in terms of the secular notions of equality and rights – they are not commensurate with Church concepts.

  • ms Catholic state

    The Church will never marry gay couples, polygamous couples or divorcees.  The Pope has said only those who accept Church teachings can marry in the Church.  So tough luck there. 

    A priest can marry any Catholic couple anywhere anytime…..just so long as they are kosher.

  • Anonymous

    Anti-bishop Vincent Nichols has endorsed sodomitical relationships on the basis of “equality” and “commitment”. The anti-bishop reckons that the RC Church “fully supports” and is “very commited” to gay relationships. Who could imagine that the real RC Church speaks with such a modernist voice?

    <>

    Read TRADITIO for the best commentary on RC news.

    Quote:

    http://traditio.com/comment/com1112.htm

    Newchurch Archbishop Publicly Endorses “Gay Marriage” — Heretic Newbishop Nichols Panders Sodomy as Catholic

    The Archbishop of Westminster, one of the leading Newchurch bishops in Great Britain, publicly endorsed “gay marriage” in a December 1, 2011, at a press conference following that country’s Newbishops meeting. One could not have heard a clearer statement against Catholic doctrine. Such anti-Catholicism on the part of Newchurch leaders is intimately connected with the New Order sect’s Great Sex & Embezzlement Holocaust and rises to the top, the “Paedophile Pope,” Benedict-Ratzinger. Nichols has joined the heretical Anglican Church in endorsing civil unions, tantamount to “gay marriage,” because sodomites and lesbians can be legally protected in their perversions:

    <>

    This is just more immoral false teaching from the vile New Order sect. Here is what a true Catholic Pope-Saint said about the matter:

    <>

    Good Catholics, if Benedict-Ratzinger purports to be a true Catholic pope, he will immediately fire Nichols for false and immoral teaching as a bishop. Ratzinger will, of course, not take Catholic action, and Nichols will remain in place. Draw your own conclusions about what that means about Ratzinzer’s own status. [Some information for this Commentary was contributed by LSN.]

  • Apostolic

    Edward Leigh is faithful to the faith of his Catholic recusant ancestors, unlike Archbishop Nichols’s total lack of witness to the teaching of the Church. Shame on Archbishop Nichols. He is demonstrating a damaging lack of leadership in the very week a week when the National Secular Society is legally challenging a council’s right to hold Christian prayers and force Christianity out of the public sphere. Shame indeed on him.

  • Anonymous

    What is so hard about crafting a law that allows ceremonies in religious premises, but does not force every and any such religious premises to have ceremonies there??

  • Italo

    The State should indeed stay out of religious marriage.

    Because it is evident that a religious ( catholic ) marriage can only be between 2 people of the opposite sex.
    A civil partnership between 2 people of the same sex is a whole other matter, and should be allowed in a civil state, but not necceseraly supported by the Catholic Church.
    It is a different matter. It will not bring children, unless with a helping hand from the outside, and therefor not equal in no sense at all.

    And to persist in this lie is an insult to the uman intelect. In the same way as they did in the lifetime of Stalin when science told lies to please Stalin.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    In the third paragraph, the commenter Harry refers to my Church as “the Roman Church.”

    I believe the effect that nomenclature has on us Catholics is very like the effect that the phrase “the Queen of England” has on Her Majesty’s present-day subjects.

    As we across the pond say, “’tain’t right!”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I am  not sure “kosher” is quite the right expression…

    No-one is particularly bothered about whether or not the RCC conducts gay marriages or not – the likely outcome in the longer term is that a civil ceremony will have to take place either within or outside the Catholic “marriage” service.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr Summerskill, who is no extremist. What I suspect he was getting at was that the current privilege the Catholics and all Jews (maybe other sects too: I am not sure)  have of the state allowing their marriage  rituals to count as actual state-recognised marriages, without the need for the presence a civil registrar may be withdrawn from the Catholics and from those Jews who are not prepared to marry same sex couples. This would assimilate the law on religious marriages to that which already appertains to civil marriages, where if you aren’t prepared to have civil partnerships on your premises you can’t have heterosexual marriages either.

    (edited to correct a syntactical error.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    That is a misunderstanding of the term “right”: they don’t have a legal right today. They will tomorrow. They both now and tomorrow  have a human or political right. 

    More importantly, this debate has to be framed in secular terms. You may not like it but this is a secular state. The debate has to be phrased in secular terms, which of course include the rights of RC people to practise their religion.

  • Anonymous

    There is no human right to same sex marriage. No such right is enshrined anywhere in international law, not by the UN nor by the ECHR. You posit a right which does not in fact exist. Insofar as it does exist it is conferred by parliament but there is no such intrinsic human right.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    Well, “Roman Catholic church” if you insist (I’d be curious to know what is offensive about it if you have the inclination to explain). Though not strictly speaking just “Catholic” (although that is what it is called in common parlance) as the Church of England is part of the Catholic church in the wider sense. 

    Anyway frankly I wouldn’t get into nomenclature too much if I were you bearing the exceptionally nasty things the RCC (howsoever described) calls what monogamous but non-celibate gay couples get up to….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I agree that the ECHR has not yet granted a right to same sex marriage (It is a matter of time though if you read the last judgement on it).  But you are advocating (I think) the denial of a Quaker religious meeting to conduct CPs in a religious setting. That’s not the same as a gay marriage right. 

    Anyway, Parliament fixes the political rights in this country (hence my use of the asdjective) and as of tomorrow they have that right. And the rights of your church are not diminished one iota. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    The CofE has indicated that it is happy with the regulations. So the chances of Mr Leigh’s efforts getting anywhere are now very low.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    ” . . .the exceptionally nasty things the RCC . . . calls
    what monogamous but non-celibate gay couples get up to”

    The RCC has a way of doing that, and they come by their habit of doing so by way of another habit of theirs: studying Sacred Scripture. Sacred Scripture has all manner of challenging things to say about persons who develop the habit of drinking to excess, who cannot seem to stop committing adultery, people who get by by cheating others, people who don’t tell the truth, people who can’t control their tempers . . . in other words, about every one of us ordinary, garden-variety sinners who time and time again, fall prey to one or more of the vices that the Tempter uses to ensnare and enchain us.

    Some this one, another that; yet another, those.

    (I’m a one of the “those” variety, being beset by multiple vices.)

    Sometimes I want to give up, but how can I? As long as He doesn’t give up on me, I’ve got to hang in there.

    And He doesn’t give up on my brothers and sisters with same-sex attraction, either. He loves them very, very much, and so wants to give them His healing and peace. Me, I’ve known His healing and peace in my life, and I count on continuing to receive more and more from Him. His healing and peace are the best that there is, and nothing can replace it.

    The RCC’s job is to keep talking about the healing and peace that is available to all of us miserable sinners when we are willing to receive it. And the first step in being willing to receive it, is to be willing to let Him remove that which gets in the way of our relationship with Him, that being sin. If we’re not willing to let Him remove sin from our lives – bit by bit – then He can’t heal us and give us His peace, as He desires most tenderly to do for us.

    The RCC has to keep telling us. Telling us that.

  • Alan

    “worked just fine in Wales.”

    Well yes and then NO.

    The position vis a vis marriage law in Wales remains just as it was before disestablishment. The clergy of the Church in Wales  enjoy the same automatic rights as before and the people of Wales continue to enjoy the same absolute right to use their parish church for marriage.

  • Arthur

    See Wikipedia on consumation of marriage

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    it is easy drafting and that is what the  regulations have done. Leigh is just trying to stall.

  • Anonymous

    it might well be, odd considering that Vincent Nichols has come out in favour of civil-ceremonies (he just doesn’t want to host them in his Churches!!)

  • I Italo

    There is no other way then that the Catolic Church will stay with the original marriage , that is between aman and a woman.
    That is the principal family that the Church had to defend in their religion, based on the will of God.

    We must not forget that every homosexual has had a mother, and that will not change.

    And therefor it would be of a great act of wisdom if Homosexuals will volontarly stay with the civil marriage and do not press on the Church to have their blessing.
    The blessing of the Church is in their case for their father and mother.

  • Kit Carmelite

    Why is it so important for same sex couples to “marry” in a church setting when the Bible the church adheres to clearly forbids their chosen lifestyle?

  • Henry Williams

    Just some thoughts on this. 

    I increasingly have less of a problem with gay/lesbian marriages. 

    They would obviously be non Catholic marriages and I have no comment on non Catholic marriages whether in a non Catholic religious place or in a registry office.

    I don’t even have a problem with polygamy practised by non Catholics if between consenting adults. 

    As for gay marriages permissible in religious buildings, the Episcopalians in the US are comfortable with gay bishops so no doubt they would be comfortable with gay marriages.

    If such marriages are forced upon Catholic churches, that would clearly be a sham and that would imply that we would be in a State where The Church was compelled to include non Catholics fully in Catholic ritual.

    And anyway “I pronounce you man and wife”  would not go down very well with the same sex couples.

    But on gay marriages / civil partnerships we should press for sibling marriages. There are many elderly sisters, brothers and brother-sister siblings living together who would benefit from the benefits of marriage or civil partnership.

    And if same sex polygamy is recognised then all the nuns in a convent and monks in a monastery could benefit from the economic benefits of marriage / civil partnerships.

    Of course the traditional arguments against sibling marriage being the dangers of generating deformed in-bred children is out of date. 

    In today’s liberal society, marriage/civil partnership, fornication and breeding are three very separate practices and bear little relation to one another. 

    Just some thoughts

    Henry Williams, London

  • Semper Fidelis

    I’m not sure about England, but here in Ireland the State actively discriminates against homosexuals – for very sound/logical reasons. I refer to the Blood Transfusion Service, which refuses to take donations from individuals who have had one homosexual ” enounter ” – presumably the actions that Harry’s non-celibate gay couples get up to !. I’m sure Harry will counter that the English Blood Transfusion Service is more enlightened. But would you risk that transfusion Harry ?. It seems homosexual acts may not be that gay or harmless after all – if we are to believe the science !.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKFIG4ZXNDM6NXPDXGQDBKSMUA Harry

    I am happy to report that Baroness O’Cathlain’s attempt to annul the regulations met with so little support (from any party) in the House of Lords that she herself withdrew her motion.

    I hope the Noble Baroness can now spend more time celebrating Christmas, as she presumable thinks it important.