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Archbishop calls for free vote on same-sex marriage

By on Friday, 1 June 2012

Archbishop Peter Smith (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Peter Smith (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has called for MPs of all parties to be given a free vote on same-sex marriage, saying that if the legislation were to be passed it “would have major long-term consequences”.

The Archbishop of Southwark, who is chairman of the bishops’ Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, said: “The Government’s proposal to change the definition of marriage is a profound legal reform. It is very important that Members of Parliament of all parties should be given a free vote on an issue of such major significance.”

His intervention emerged after Nick Clegg had said that his Liberal Democrat MPs would be directed to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that Lib Dems will “honour what we have said as a party”.

David Cameron, on the other hand, has said he will be giving his MPs a free vote on the legislation.

Archbishop Smith added that the matter was an “issue of conscience because fundamental moral questions are at stake about the true meaning of marriage”. He also said that politicians should be “free to express and act on their own principled view”.

  • Sam Black

    Nick Clegg has ensured that the Lib Dems will never get
    another vote of me. Disgraceful behaviour; but wholly to be expected from a British
    party pushing a modernist agenda in an ever more secularised culture. It is sad
    to see. But hope in the Holy Spirit can never be extinguished.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Veronica-Connolly/100001433668919 Veronica Connolly

    No vote is required, because only GOD can change or re-define Marriage because it was HE who Instituted it. The governments know this. They also know that the abortion act is a lie. Firstly because abortion wasnot made legal in 1967, it only ensured the doctors wouldnot be prosecuted, and abortion can never be legal, because the abortion act is a statute law and can never supersede common law, which our country has its law based on. Common Law comes from GODs Law of The Commandments, and these never change or can be done away with. To believe anything else is just a lie.

  • Parasum

    I thought he meant the *bishops* should be given a free vote LOL (Which IMO would be a very good idea, BTW)

  • Js051051

    Peoples’ rights are way more important than any religious beliefs.

  • JByrne24

    QUOTE: “The governments know this”
    Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are self-declared atheists. Dave Cameron is also probably an atheist.

    The Queen is above ALL law in the UK. It is she who gave her Royal Assent to the abortion act – making it part of The Law Of The United Kingdom.

  • davidaslindsay

    In better days, the humiliation of David Cameron, in his having been forced to allow a free vote on the redefinition of marriage, would have caused his resignation. Alas, though, we are not yet living in better days. But this climb-down can only have happened because Cameron was facing a rebellion big enough to defeat the legislation, including enough Ministerial resignations to cripple his Government even by comparison with its present sorry state.

    A triumph, then, for Ed Miliband, who never threatened either to whip this issue or to make it any sort of priority in the present economic climate, one of many reasons why Labour became the voice and vehicle of conservative, even Tory Britain at the recent local elections. A status on course to be maintained and consolidated all the way to 2015. The tyranny of Blairism has met an obstacle.

    Meanwhile, do not expect this piece of Notting Hill dinner party chitter chatter to reach the floor of the House, never mind the Statute Book. Hard times are hardly the times for this sort of thing. But Cameron has only this and the other piece of Notting Hill dinner party chitter chatter. Do not expect that to reach the floor of the House, never mind the Statute Book, either. Meaning that there is simply no point whatever to the continuation of this Government. It should be put out of our misery.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OTDSIHKS7RDW5ZI4SDC3CIHFI4 Rohan

    And people have a right to religious beliefs, Js051051
    However, this is more than rights and beliefs but about human nature and the human community. By nature we have two genders with accompanyibg organs which complement each other. When these two come together there is a perfect marriage. This marriage is designed to provide the community wirh stability and, importantly, continuity. It is, in deed, a human phenomenon that is of great benefit for society. No politician or judge or citizen has any right to re-define this natural phenomenon. Any attempt to do do should be deemed criminal as it is an attack against our humanity and the community.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    “The
    Queen is above ALL law in the UK. It is she who gave her Royal Assent
    to the abortion act – making it part of The Law Of The United Kingdom.”

    IF THE ABOVE IS TRUE, THERE IS NO WONDER WHY THE QUEEN’S CHURCH IS GOING TO THE DOGS

  • NoSuchThingAsGod

    God instituted marriage? The people of this land were having ceremonies very similar to marriage before it was written down in a little book of fairy tales and the christian religion arrived on these shores. 

  • Andrew

    I agree with a free vote!  The current register of anti-gay marriage votes is still marginally less than 1%!  Yes, just less than 1%!   Let’s be clear:  even with a free vote, 50% of Conservatives will vote ‘yes’, almost all of Lib Dems will vote ‘yes’ and about 75% of Labour will vote ‘yes’, so the Commons majority, even with a free vote will be massively in favour.  The Lords will have no option, then, but to see this force of will and, if they persist in being silly, perhaps the Government will have to use the Parliament Act to sort it out, just like they did with the age of consent! Look, Catholics should stop this silliness and appreciate the inexorability of homosexuality!

  • Benedict Carter

    This is a Catholic Archbishop’s contribution? To call for a free vote? What about telling our benighted politicians about Christian teaching on the matter?

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    The UK Parliament will be voting only on civil ceremonies for same-sex couples, so it’s not like it’s anything to do with the Archbishop at all.

  • Carolsheridan13

    What has Christian teaching got to do with civil ceremonies?  People are marrying successfully all over the world without the benefit of it.  Why are Christians so arrogant?  Make any daft, homophobic rules you like for your own church, but keep out of the law-making process

  • Charles Martel

     Yep, exactly what I thought when I read this. No doubt the modern thinking is ‘no one is going to follow us if all we do is condemn’. Well, no one is even going to listen to this meaningless intervention in the debate. The least the bishops could do is spell out the Church’s teaching and make it crystal clear that no Catholic politician may vote for this abomination. If they do, they will be excommunicated. Yes, folks. This is the MINIMUM. Remember, these people live off our donations. In any ordinary organisation, people who don’t do the minimum get the sack.

  • Parasum

    “It is she who gave her Royal Assent to the abortion act – making it part of The Law Of The United Kingdom.”

    ## This is what makes those who treat Obama as the Son of Satan, while sucking up to the Queen, so ridiculous. A head of state of the US is the Beast of the Apocalypse if he allows un-”pro-life” legislation – but for the head of state in the UK to allow it, is no big deal. On the contrary, the Queen is a Good Egg, despite her almost 50 years of  un-”pro-life” legislation. This is downright moral relativism. If Obama is an “enemy of the Church”, the Queen, with her far longer record of un-pro-life laws, must be a lot worse. Either the CH  needs to stop dissing Obama, or it needs to diss the Queen as well. It disses her ministers – so why spare her ? The CH criticises bishops heartily – but never the Popes who put them *in situ” in the first place. This too is relativism. Which plays havoc with reason and morals :(

  • Parasum

    “When these two come together there is a perfect marriage.”

    Rape ? Fornication ? Copulation with a minor ? These qualify physiologically; but they can hardly be what you want to argue for.

    “This marriage is designed to provide the community wirh stability and,
    importantly, continuity.”

    ## Gay marriage does this too.

    “It is, in deed, a human phenomenon that is of
    great benefit for society. No politician or judge or citizen has any
    right to re-define this natural phenomenon.”

    ## The Popes have legislated for marriage, even at times discounting parts of the Bible that legislate on it. They relaxed or discounted part of the Torah, even though they were well aware it was Scripture. And they were justified in doing so. If Popes can over-ride bits of the Bible, to say or imply that it can’t be over-riden by other legislators is silly, because the state is as interested in marriage as the clergy are. That marriage is legislated for by the clergy is an historical accident, and is not required by the Faith.

    Some people have clearly not heard of hand-fasting… It may not happen now, but the men in mitres used to be kewl with it. Marriage has taken more forms among Catholics than some people seem to realise. As even the history of the sacrament would suggest. 

  • Charles Martel

     Carolsheridan13, could you explain why Catholics should keep out of the law-making process? Are you advocating a return to the pre-1829 dispensation (if you even know what that means)?

  • http://twitter.com/ThomasNawn thomas nawn

    an excellent point, same sex union is fine, i live in the united states, when we enter the real of the word marriage it becomes a little muddy, after al marriage or union it still means 2 people who love one  another, i am 73 and recall during the endinding days of world war 2 when the man taking care of me was really a woman this was told to me when i was 30  the man who really was a woman became ill with cancer would not see a doctor she later died and her lasrt wish was do not bury me in a dress they buried her in her pajamas thommy nawn in virginis usa

  • liulan991

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OTDSIHKS7RDW5ZI4SDC3CIHFI4 Rohan

    This why rape, incest and copulation are immoral amd illegal. Though they exist, they are deemed be forms of abuse – not marriage. Marriage mantins our population naturally – not by gadgets etc which are already causing problems.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OTDSIHKS7RDW5ZI4SDC3CIHFI4 Rohan

    In which fairy tale book did you read that? Religion and marriage existed from the very beginning of our history.

  • Tris Stock

    I think people appear to have forgotten that MP’s have a responsibility to those that elected them, not the parties under whose colours they shelter.

    Each member must reflect on the will of those who he represents if he wishes to continue as a trusted  elected representative.

    As such, party whips are irrelevant and free votes should always be demanded. Democracy – of the people.

  • Guest2345

    No Archbishop Smith, to call for a vote is madness. The Bible clearly says that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. As in when a woman leaves her family and binds to a man they become one body. Marriage is not something relative…There goes your chance to be the next Archbishop of Westminster

  • pagnol

    Why not diss both? I am a faithful American catholic, and it therefore goes without saying a political and social conservative. Do I need to say what I think about Obama, “gay” marriage and abortion? As for the “queen”, sorry people, but as far as I’m concerned this Elizabeth is an illegitimate successor of the throne by virtue of everything the English nobility looted from the Catholic church, Her monasteries, and Catholic institutions in England thanks to the first (literally) illegitimate Elizabeth. The true successor to the throne of the legitimate monarchy was Mary. She of course was persecuted as the true Church is persecuted today in the “queens” kingdom, and this illegitimate queen still dares to call herself the head of the church.

    The birthday celebration in her honor was positively sickening and cost her poor British slave subjects even more money they don’t have. 

    Instaurare Omnia in Christo

  • pagnol

     On what planet have you been living on? The homosexuals do not only want legal recognition of their “marriage”, they want the same benefits of that so called marriage which legally spring from the legal pool contributed to, paid into and supported by validly married man and woman. That includes children upbringing, education, adoption, welfare, and so on. So they literally want to force their sexual corruption (and costs) down the throats of us “homophobes”.

    Keep your perversion to yourself Carolsheridan, and keep out of the law making process.

  • pagnol

     Parasum, Why
    not diss both? I am a faithful American catholic, and it therefore goes
    without saying a political and social conservative. Do I need to say
    what I think about Obama, “gay” marriage and abortion? As for the
    “queen”, sorry people, but as far as I’m concerned this Elizabeth is an
    illegitimate successor of the throne by virtue of everything the English
    nobility looted from the Catholic church, Her monasteries, and Catholic
    institutions in England thanks to the first (literally) illegitimate
    Elizabeth. The true successor to the throne of the legitimate monarchy
    was Mary. She of course was persecuted as the true Church is persecuted
    today in the “queens” kingdom, and this illegitimate queen still dares
    to call herself the head of the church.

    The birthday celebration in her honor was positively sickening and
    cost her poor British slave subjects even more money they don’t have. 

    Instaurare Omnia in Christo

  • maideqi

    tinyurl.com/73huk6r

  • Benedict Carter

    Agreed. And the fawning over her of the Catholic establishment in Britain has been sickening. 

  • pagnol

    Spoken like a heretic. Let’s get Henry VIII back ASAP, and behead some more catholic martyrs

  • pagnol

     Agreed. But in order to do that you will have to define what is a christian, and what is Catholic. There are some “christians” do not yet know, or even why.

  • whytheworldisending

    This is also about democracy and the Rule of Law. Democracy itself is under attack from within by an unrepresentative coalition of politicians trading off their principles in order to maintain their precarious grip on power. Neither the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats have a mandate to introduce such sweeping reforms against the public will. The proposed redefinition of marriage is quite obviously something on the LibDem wishlist which true Conservatives must find repellent.
    The proposed legislation is a stepping stone towards
    same-sex marriages on religious premises, which will inevitably become the
    focus of future campaigning. There are already politicians who would go further
    than what is proposed. For example, Labour MP Angela Eagle has said that she “would like to see Churches given the option
    of holding same sex marriages if they wish to do so.” 

    Many British citizens – regardless of religious
    affiliation – adhere to a traditional moral code, and they have a natural right
    to teach it to their children.  That code
    esteems marriage between a man and a woman as the natural basis for stable
    families and civilised society. The proposed legislation would inflict damage
    on the moral health of the nation, by undermining the integrity of traditional
    marriage, undermining the stability of the traditional family and undermining
    the ability of right-thinking parents to pass on, for the benefit of future
    generations, that moral code which has its origins in the Christian faith and
    which is the bedrock on which British society rests. The law should conserve the moral welfare of the State, and guard it
    against attacks. It should not oppose common decency, but reinforce it. 
    Civil
    partnerships should be opened up to opposite-sex couples, because not to do so
    discriminates against heterosexuals, and because if civil partnerships were
    available to opposite sex couples, there would be no need for same sex
    marriage.
    Same sex marriage is not necessary to afford continuity to
    transgender people in civil partnerships, and existing marriages, since this
    can be achieved by extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. The
    Government’s impact statement itself admits that “civil partnerships provide an almost identical legal framework to civil
    marriage.”

    Same sex marriage is not necessary to avoid declaring
    orientation when stating “Civil partnership” or “Marriage.” All that is
    necessary is for questions to ask “Married or in a civil partnership?” Employers
    and public authorities already approach the matter in this way.

    Same sex marriage is not necessary to remove
    anomalies regarding pension rights, dissolution rights, etc: These matters can
    be dealt with by amending the law in those areas to make them apply to civil
    partnerships. It is not necessary to appropriate the word “Marriage” to achieve
    the aim of changing the way the law deals with civil partnerships. That this is
    feasible is clear from paragraph 2.22 of the Government’s consultation document
    which states, “Those who do not wish to convert their civil partnership will be able to
    remain in their civil partnership and suffer no legal detriment.” 
    The
    Government says (at 2.39) that there will be no changes to the… “ability of religious
    organisations to preach and teach their beliefs on the definition of marriage,”
    however the members
    of such “organisations” have a religious duty to teach these beliefs. The
    proposals would impact greatly, in this regard, on parents and families.
    Behaviours incompatible with attitudes towards sexual morality, the sanctity of
    traditional marriage, and traditional family values will appear to be
    legitimised by government, and this will undermine the ability of parents to
    pass on the traditional family values which they hold, to their children. The
    proposed legislation may be incompatible with the European Convention if it
    represents an unnecessary or disproportionate interference with the Convention
    rights of British parents and people of religious faith. Essentially a balance
    has to be reached between competing Convention rights, and many will argue that
    these proposals are unbalanced because it is not necessary for the Government
    to appropriate the word “marriage” to achieve its aims. The proposals would
    also contribute to an increase in family breakdown, social disorder and crime,
    with associated costs. 
    If diversity is to be valued, the difference between
    marriage and any same sex counterpart has to be recognised. The alternative is
    to impose the type of rigid uniformity which does not respect real differences
    between people, but is designed to obliterate those differences by the
    imposition of a regime enshrining values which are alien to the majority of the
    people subjected to it. If you devalue marriage in the eyes of traditionalists,
    by making it available to homosexuals, then many ordinary people of no
    religious faith, who might have gone through a civil marriage ceremony, will
    see no reason to get married at all, and respect for the institution of
    marriage will be undermined. The concern is not only that the campaign for
    same-sex rights is antagonistic towards religious rights and Christianity in
    particular; the fundamentalist quest for absolute equality is diminishing
    respect for the diversity of attitudes and values in society, so that
    “Equality” and “Diversity” are becoming enemies. All of these concerns can be
    met in part, quite simply, by not using the word “marriage” to denote whatever
    legal entity will appease those who choose to indulge in homosexual practices
    and oppose Christianity.

  • whytheworldisending

    Without respect for the Law, it is has no authority and cannot do its job – which is to maintain the peace. Laws passed to win votes from minorities so as to keep corrupt politicians in power amount to one thing – “Minority Rule.” History is clear that the people will not allow themselves to be subjected to minority rule for long, and when they act to free themselves from it, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Without God, there is no right and wrong, no law and no order. You cannot build a society on someone’s opinion – but you can divide a society against itself if you are arrogant enough to believe that the people will live according to how you think they should live. The Bible has formed our laws, and we reject it at our peril. Let people choose hell if they want to, but don’t force the rest of us to go there too. Tony Blair was wrong – only a “Nutter” (his term) thinks they can rule without God. Keep Britain Christian.

  • whytheworldisending

    Even if the proposals go through, the tragedy is that the effect will be to alienate homosexuals from the rest of society, and to anger the real homohaters (homophobe is a misnomer since it implies fear not hate) who are not religious at all, but atheists, like the Nazis and Stalin and Pol Pot. It is Christianity that prevents these dogs from being unleashed. Those who campaign against religion are chopping down the tree under which they have been sheltering – at a time when another storm is brewing in Europe.

  • whytheworldisending

    People should take a closer look at Cameron and his “…because I’m conservative” speech.

  • whytheworldisending

    In case you don’t know, this was apparent to the Bible writers thousands of years ago – before you existed. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” I like the words of the hymn, “All People who on Earth doth dwell,” which reminds us that, “Without our aid he did us make.” Now were you there when God made you or are you a supposed “Self-made man?” Of course we cannot be self-made, since we did not exist before we were created. If atheists think there is no God, because they deny the existence of souls, spirits or an after life, and believe only in material things, then they have to admit that they themselves are just collections of molecules, with the “self” a mere delusion. If they acted as if they believed that, they might be respected, but as it is they are hypocrites, because they don’t live in accordance with their atheistic beliefs (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and other monsters excepted) They appropriate humanistic values whilst denying the source of their humanity.

  • HapHarris

    The fact this topic is even being discussed proves the world has reached the point of total “Insanity.”

  • Joboceri

    It seems that we have gone off the topic. If you re-read it you see that it is about a call for a a free vote. When did Nick Clegg ever have the right to speak for every member of his parlament? His entention on making his members agree is as discrimanative and oppressive as his intention to force through same sex marriage.

  • Joboceri

    When did Nick Glegg ever have the right to speak for the members of his parlament. His intention to vote for them is as discrimantory and oppressive as his intention to force through his own agenda. Does he think he is God?

  • Michael Turner

    Regrettably,  timing to offer a free vote to all MPs has passed.. The parties and individual MPs would look completely foolish if they now changed their vote to one of conscience instead of mis-guidedly towing the party line. In my view the greastest call must now be for a ‘Referendum’ on the issue. The matter is of too great importance to be left to the voting practises of ‘ here today gone tommorow politicians.
    The laws of probability would give no less a figure of opponents to the bill in the labour ranks than there is in the tory camp if they were able to honestly voice opinion. Those who do speak against, unlike their colleagues are speaking from conscience otherwise there would be no reason to speak attall.

    Michael Turner

  • whytheworldisending

    At least Nick Clegg is consistent. He’s not even allowing HIMSELF a free vote. If he did vote according to his conscience, he would have to vote against it wouldn’t he? I mean he married his Catholic wife in a Catholic church and so must have promised to bring their kids up in the Catholic faith. He can’t do that while publicly opposing Church teaching on marriage – can he?

  • El_Tigre

    Be careful what you ask for. I was shocked when our state (Washington) passed by public vote an initiative to institute SSM.
    All we can do is divest ourselves from this sinful generation.