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Bishops’ briefing on same-sex marriage Bill: full text

By on Tuesday, 29 January 2013

MPs will debate the Bill at its second reading next Tuesday (Photo: PA)

MPs will debate the Bill at its second reading next Tuesday (Photo: PA)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Briefing to Members of Parliament on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Tuesday 29th January 2013

We urge Members to oppose this legislation at Second Reading for the following reasons:

1. THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE MATTERS

This Bill, for the first time in British history, fundamentally seeks to break the existing legal link between the institution of marriage and sexual exclusivity, loyalty, and responsibility for the children of the marriage. If the Bill passes, several previously foundational aspects of the law of marriage will be changed to accommodate same sex
couples: the common law presumption that a child born to a mother during her marriage is also the child of her partner will not apply in same sex marriages (Schedule 4, para. 2); the existing provisions on divorce will be altered so that sexual infidelity by one of the parties in a same sex marriage with another same sex partner will not constitute adultery (Schedule 4, para. 3); and nonconsummation will not be a ground on which a same sex marriage is voidable (Schedule 4, para. 4).

Marriage thus becomes an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, is no longer central to society’s understanding of that institution (as reflected in the law). The fundamental problem with the Bill is that changing the legal understanding of marriage to accommodate same sex partnerships threatens subtly, but radically, to alter the meaning of marriage over time for everyone. This is the heart of our argument in principle against same sex marriage.

The existing approach to marriage in British law encourages a particular understanding of marriage and the obligations taken on by those who marry. British law currently provides, for example, that a marriage is between two, rather than several, individuals; that the commitment of husband and wife is meant to last for their lifetime; that there is a sexual aspect to the relationship (in the requirement of consummation for there to be a valid marriage); that the husband is presumed to be the father of the child carried by his wife; and that the partners to the marriage will remain loyal to the relationship to the exclusion of all other sexual partners.

Those elements of the law of marriage are not arbitrary, archaic, or reactionary; they serve to show that marriage has an important and unique function.

These provisions cannot be understood unless they are seen as intimately related to the conception and rearing of children. This view is one held particularly strongly by the Catholic Church, but it is not a uniquely religious view.2 As Bertrand Russell said: ‘But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex …. It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.’

We recognise that there is an alternative view of what constitutes the ‘good’ of marriage, and we understand that proponents of same sex marriage often adopt this alternative view, in good faith.

Under this alternative view, the ‘good’ of marriage is that it fosters intimacy and care-giving for dependants, builds trust, and encourages openness, and shared responsibilities.3 We accept, of course, that these are, indeed, important aspects of marriage. But we believe that marriage is not only the institutional recognition of love and commitment. Marriage, as legally recognised in this country, is also the institutional recognition of a unique kind of relationship in which children are raised by their birth-parents. Even if this is not always possible in practice, the law, by recognising this core understanding of marriage, sends a vital signal to society of an ideal.

We recognise, of course, that British law does not limit marriage to those who intend to have children; nor does it deny marriage to those who are infertile. We also recognise that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes. Nevertheless, marriage has an identity that at its core is distinct from any other legally recognised relationship, no matter how much love or commitment may be involved in these other relationships. Marriage has,
over the centuries, been the enduring public recognition of this commitment to provide a stable institution for the care and protection of children, and it has rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection for this reason. Marriage furthers the common good of society because it promotes a unique relationship within which children are conceived, born and reared, an institution that we believe benefits children.

2. RETAINING MARRIAGE SOLELY FOR OPPOSITE SEX COUPLES IS NOT DISCRIMINATORY

We believe, along with those who support same sex marriage, that the law matters both in terms of the
signals that it sends and the effects of those signals on future behaviour. We disagree that the signal that
is sent currently, by restricting marriage to opposite sex couples, is one of disparagement of same sex
relationships.

The basic argument that is advanced in favour of same sex marriage is one of equality and fairness. But we suggest that this intuitively appealing argument is fundamentally flawed. Those who argue for same sex marriage do so on the basis that it is unjust to treat same sex and heterosexual relationships differently in allowing only heterosexual couples access to marriage. Our principal argument against this is that it is not unequal or unfair to treat those in different
circumstances differently. Indeed, to treat them the same would itself be unjust.

The Government, in proposing this change to the law and definition of marriage, has itself not sought complete equivalence between same sex couples and heterosexual couples. We have already shown how significantly the Bill distinguishes between same sex and opposite sex marriages (there is no consummation requirement, there is no common law presumption as to the parenthood of any children, and adultery will not be a ground for divorce). What results in the Bill is a distinct set of differences between opposite sex marriage and same sex marriage. In addition to these differences incorporated in the Bill, civil partnerships will remain an option for same sex couples, but heterosexual couples will not be given access to civil partnerships and the Government has made this decision against the views of the majority in the consultation.

The Government itself recognises, therefore, that it is not necessarily unfair discrimination or a breach of the principle of equality to treat different people differently, if they are different in a relevant way. So too, retaining different institutions in order to serve differing functions is not unfair, but a recognition of relevant differences in the functions served by those institutions.

Catholic teaching, whilst it does not condone same sex sexual activity, condemns unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We note that same sex couples already effectively enjoy equivalent legal rights as heterosexual couples by virtue of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. A Civil Partnership in essence entitles a same sex couple to equivalent legal benefits, advantages and rights as heterosexual couples6 . Therefore the changes proposed in the Bill
are not needed in order to provide legal recognition to and protection for same sex relationships. Our opposition to same sex marriage is not based in discrimination or prejudice; it is based in a positive effort to ensure that the unique social values currently served by marriage carry on being served by that institution in the future.

3. THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR THIS CHANGE AND THE VIEWS OF MANY HAVE BEEN IGNORED

Fundamentally changing the definition of marriage is a major constitutional change and Parliament should not be rushed into making a decision that will have far reaching long-term consequences, many of them unintended. Once this understanding of marriage is fundamentally weakened, its unique value will be lost. The risk, if this Bill becomes law, is that the true meaning of marriage will gradually, over time, be lost, to the detriment of future generations. This Bill, we repeat, will change the meaning of marriage for everyone.

The British public, as a whole, did not seek this change; none of the mainstream political parties promised it in their last election manifestos; there has been no referendum; there was no Green or White Paper; and when the Government launched its consultation it did not ask whether the law should be changed, but how the law should be changed. There is no clear mandate for this change.

In pressing forward with this Bill the Government has set aside the views of over 625,000 people who signed a petition opposing the change, and effectively ignored the submissions of many others to the Equal Civil Marriage Consultation who also opposed the change. Whilst we accept that there is support for this change among a section of the British public, we believe that such a major constitutional change should not be decided on the basis of simple head counts. In short, we suggest that that there is no public consensus on this issue and that there is not sufficient public demand for so
fundamental a change to the definition of marriage.

It is essential that Parliament proceeds with extreme caution before fundamental alterations are made to an institution that provides the primary tried and trusted context in which children are born and raised. We have made it clear that there are major arguments in principle against this change, but even leaving these to one side, any such changes should await considerably more evidence about child bearing and child rearing in the context of same sex unions.

4. THE BILL PAVES THE WAY FOR YET MORE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE

By fundamentally altering the definition of marriage, the Government will leave the law on marriage vulnerable to even more radical change in the near future, however much the Government protests that this is not its intention. Over the last two decades, the laws have changed continually, despite assurances at each stage that the law would change no further. In 2004, for example, the Civil Partnerships Act was passed and religious organisations were excluded, but this was later changed (after assurances that it would not be) to allow civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted on religious premises. At the time the Civil Partnerships Act was debated there were also assurances that the definition of marriage would not be affected but, only a few years later, the Bill now before Parliament seeks to alter the fundamental meaning of marriage.

If the law is changed and the existing core understanding of marriage is lost, further changes both in Parliament and through the courts can be expected. Previous experience shows that statutory changes to fundamental institutions pave the way for further changes going well beyond what the drafters of the original measure considered desirable, or even conceivable. Slippery slope arguments are often overused, but in this case the evidence is clear: by making these changes, it is more likely that the law and core understanding of marriage will be altered further in the coming
years.

5. THE PROPOSED ‘SAFEGUARDS’ ARE INADEQUATE

The Government’s safeguards, although well intentioned, will not provide adequate protection for individuals or religious organisations with conscientious objections to same sex marriage.

(a) The Religious Protection Provision Inadequately Protects Individuals:

The Bill is likely to generate further difficulties and barriers for individuals with conscientious objections to same sex marriage both inside and outside the work place.

The government purports, in Clause 2, to protect individuals from being ‘compelled’ to conduct same sex marriages even if their religious organisations have opted-in; but it has failed to protect individuals in other circumstances, where the state is involved. Carefully tailored protections are needed for individuals who have a conscientious objection to same sex marriage in several other contexts.

For example, such individuals should be able reasonably to express views that relate to same sex marriage without fear of criminal prosecution under public order legislation. Freedom of expression is one of the hallmarks of a democratic society and it is central to achieving individual freedoms. It deserves to be protected explicitly.

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion of employees may also be limited as a result of the Bill. Protection should be accorded to those working in the public and religious sectors. Individuals should be able reasonably to excuse themselves from activities, or be able reasonably to express views, that relate to same sex marriage without fear of being reprimanded or losing their jobs.

(b) The Religious Protection Provision Inadequately Protects Religious Organisations:

The Prime Minister personally, and the Government in general, have also sought to reassure religious organisations that they will not be required under any circumstances to conduct same sex marriages if they object to them. Clause 2
of the Bill seeks to protect religious organisations in two ways: by providing that religious organisations may not be ‘compelled’ to opt-in, and by providing that religious organisations may not be ‘compelled’ to conduct same sex marriages.

Whilst we welcome the recognition that protections are necessary, we do not consider that these provisions adequately address the problem, because it is entirely unclear what the protection from being ‘compelled’ in law means in these circumstances.

As regards Clause 2(1), there remains a significant risk that religious organisations that conduct legally recognised opposite sex marriages (in the civil and religious sense) will be regarded as ‘public bodies’ for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 and judicial review. This could result in legal challenge to a decision not to ‘opt in’, thus limiting the breadth of the discretion of those religious organisations. This is a significant threat and even if such litigation may ultimately be successfully resisted, it would only be after significant costs had been incurred. Religious organisations should not be exposed to such costs, and more explicit protections are therefore
needed.

(c) The Implications of the Public Sector Equality Duty Have Not Been Addressed:

A similar problem arises under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. Most public authorities, such as local authorities, are under a duty to have ‘due regard’ to the need to ‘advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.’ In particular, public authorities must have ‘due regard’ to the need to ‘remove or minimize disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected
characteristic that are connected to that characteristic’.

The Bill does nothing to prevent public authorities from taking into account a decision by a religious organisation not to opt-in to same sex marriage. The Bill does nothing to prevent religious organisations which do not opt-in to same sex marriage from being treated less favourably by public authorities, for example by refusing to award public contracts or grants to religious organisations. It is not at all clear that Clause 2(1) protects religious organisations from such less favourable treatment.

(d) Interference with the autonomy of other Churches establishes a dangerous precedent:

We have made it clear that the Catholic Church will not be conducting same sex marriages. But our concerns extend beyond the effect of the Bill on the Catholic Church. We are concerned also about the significant inroads that the Bill makes on the internal affairs of other religious organisations, in two respects.

First, Clause 2(3) makes it unlawful for the Church of England to conduct same sex marriages. Whether or not religious organisations wish to provide same sex marriage ceremonies is a decision that must be made by the religious organisations alone. The Bill establishes a dangerous precedent for government interference with other religious organisations. Second, there is a further problem of principle.

Clause 2(2) seeks to allow individuals, connected to a religious organisation which has opted-in to same sex marriages, to refuse to conduct or be present at a same sex marriage ceremony. This will undoubtedly generate conflict and the religious freedom of individuals will (under the Bill) be accorded greater weight than the institutional autonomy of religious organisations. The major effect of this safeguard will be to undermine the traditional institutional autonomy of religious organisations, providing scope for further dispute and division between religious organisations and their members. Were this protection to be accorded to individuals outside the religious sector as well, this interference would be justified. The fact that this is directed only at religious organisations is disturbing.

(e) Sharing Religious Buildings – Creating Future Friction Between Religious Organisations:

Clauses 44 A-D of Schedule 1 will generate friction between religious organisations and damage interfaith relations. This provision is likely to lead to division between religious organisations that share buildings but have opposing views on same sex marriage. It will result in disputes over whether or not one religious organisation has the right to veto the use of shared religious buildings, and it will hinder inter-faith relations by engendering a reluctance to share buildings and resources in the future.

(f) Recourse to the ECHR renders the ‘safeguards’ questionable in any event:

Parliament may seek to provide protections for religious individuals or religious organisations under domestic law but it cannot ensure that these protections themselves will withstand complaints against them to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

There is a risk that the ECtHR will find that the protections provided by the Bill are incompatible with the Convention under Article 89 alone, or Articles 8 and 1210, read with Article 14,11 on the ground that the Bill adopts a discriminatory regime by enabling some religious organisations to refuse to perform same sex marriage ceremonies.

A key reason for this increased risk is that Britain, by changing the law on ‘marriage’ as such would open up the prospect that a discrimination claim could succeed because the claimed discrimination would then come ‘within the ambit’ of Article 12. It is clear that a challenge directly under Article 12 would be unlikely to succeed (because the ECtHR has held there is no right to same sex marriage under Article 12) but a claim under Article 14 read with Article 12 is a different matter.

The Government has argued that the chance of a successful challenge to the protections in the ECtHR is low on the basis that Article 9 (protecting freedom of religion) would protect the safeguards. But the recent judgment by a Chamber of the ECtHR in the case of Eweida and Others v The United Kingdom [2013] (Application nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10 and 36516/10)12 illustrates that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9) does not
provide adequate protection when there is a clash between it and other competing rights and interests. The Government cannot therefore guarantee that the ECtHR would accept the safeguards put in place to protect the position of individuals and organisations that have a conscientious objection to same sex marriage, should a challenge be brought.

There is no precedent from the ECtHR on the acceptability under the Convention of balancing religious protections with sexual orientation in the context of a same sex marriage law that has been introduced by a Member State.13 Previous case law has involved the question whether Member States should introduce same sex marriage, not on how it legislates for same sex marriage. What we know from case law, however, is that the Court often accords Article 9 rights relatively little weight, and accords a Member State a considerable margin of appreciation in deciding how to protect that right.
Much greater weight is given to equality on the basis of sexual orientation, meaning the margin of appreciation is correspondingly reduced. Differences in treatment based on sexual orientation can be justified only with very considerable difficulty, as indicated by the case law of the ECtHR.

It is also likely that challenges will be made under the Human Rights Act in domestic courts, where, of course, the margin of appreciation does not apply. The proposed ‘safeguards’ may turn out not to be safeguards at all.

6. THE WIDER CONSEQUENCES OF THE BILL HAVE NOT BEEN ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED

The consequences of the Bill will be wide-ranging. The Government has not identified all these consequences and they certainly have not all been addressed. Three of the wider potential repercussions are explored below, but there are and will be many others.

(a) Unknown Implications For Public And Private Law:

Clause 11(1) is extremely broad and its implications cannot possibly be known in advance. It states: ‘In the law of England and Wales, marriage has the same effect in relation to same sex couples as it has in relation to opposite sex couples.’ The intention is to ensure, as the default position, that same sex marriage is for all legal effects the same as opposite sex marriage. To incorporate such a broad provision is a dangerous substitute for the detailed (and extensive) inquiry that is necessary. Inadequate thought has been given to the repercussions of such a significant change, no doubt because of the rushed way in which the legislation was prepared. This provision is likely to lead to costly litigation, the need for continuing ad hoc parliamentary engagement, or both.

Given the constitutional importance of this proposed change of law, such a clause (with extensive and unknown consequences that may detrimentally affect a number of people and institutions) is unacceptable.

(b) Education – Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion:

A change in the definition of marriage will have an adverse impact on schools because the Secretary of State is under a statutory duty to issue guidance on ‘the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children’ under s.403 of the Education Act 1996. A statutory change may therefore result in religious schools being compelled to teach a definition of marriage contrary to their own understanding and thus impact on previously accepted and protected religious freedoms.

There is also a danger that teachers will be limited in their freedom of expression both inside and outside school as far as same sex marriage is concerned. It is imperative that freedom of expression and the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, are protected in the school curriculum, when individuals are teaching, or where teachers publicly express dissenting views in other contexts. The Bill fails to do this.

(c) An emerging gulf between religious and secular conceptions of marriage:

In marriage, legal and religious institutions are thoroughly intertwined. It is one of the central examples in Britain where there is, at present, no clear separation of church and state. This is true not just with regard to the special role of the Church of England, but more generally. Britain, unlike most continental European countries, provides that ‘religious’ marriages are also valid ‘civil’ marriages.

The effect of the Bill, if it is passed, will be to make a more complete separation of church and state in the area of marriage almost inevitable. ‘Civil’ marriages will be performed by state officials only and the state will determine the legal benefits, rights and duties that accompany marriage, but these will not be regarded as marriages in the eyes of many Churches. ‘Religious marriages’ will be performed by religious institutions according to their own doctrine and rites, and will have no effect on legal relations. Over time, civil and religious marriages will become fundamentally
distinct institutions.

Some will welcome that development; some will not. But either way it is important that Members of Parliament are fully aware of the longer-term effects of the Bill in this respect. The choices that Parliament is being called to make will have profound implications for the future architecture of relations between church and state in Britain.

  • majorcalamity

    How I wish your voice was heard more loudly and more often. I am sure that many think as you do. I agree 100%. Please visit the traditional Catholic blogs and give the alternative view to some very set opinions which often border on the homophobic.

  • Frank

    Thank you for highlighting many of the bishop’s concerns.
    We  agree that the proposals will have two definitions. One where sexual exclusitivity is defined and one where it is not.
    First of all why is this and how is it a marriage as opposed to any other friendship? How will it legally be monogamous without this definition?
    Neither you nor I can say that the “safeguards” can stand up to the same human rights and equality arguments. There are plenty of lawyers who say they can’t. I still maintain that this undermines married women (who are also a minority) most of all.
    What is wrong with exploring these issues and bringing them out so we can all understand what the inplications are? or is this the reason for the haste?

  • majorcalamity

    I think the Bishops need to study history a little more. Their account of marriage seems to start with their “Council of Trent”, which was itself a political act designed to increase their power. If you start in the wrong place you tend to get lost, which they seem to have done. Marriage is evolving to suit it’s environment. It is no more complicated than that. Evolution cannot be denied, or controlled for long. These changes will happen, and the objections will just fade away, as will any church which fails to move with the times. 

  • Frank

    If you are impersonating a priest then please consider the seriousness of doing so. .

  • R. F

    Thank you but seriously frank. Aren’t you sick of the homophobia here and do you at least support the fact that there is another view?

  • scary goat

     Excuse me, have you lost your way? This isn’t NCR.  I think you were supposed to turn left at the last server.

  • R F

    The point is that there is a counter argument against all this. Sorry if my views offend. Best wishes

  • scary goat

     No offense taken.  But I can’t help thinking you need to take up your counter arguments with the Holy Father rather than undermining Church teaching on a public forum where the rest of us (laity) are trying our best to defend it. He’s easy to find…keep going straight along the narrow servers till you get to http://www.vatican.va. God bless.

  • scary goat

    ” Don’t you believe in minority rights then?”

    What about the minority rights of muslims to practice polygamy, Nick?  You said in another post that you would not support legalising polygamy.

  • scary goat

    Divorce culture, contraception culture, single parent culture, radical feminism culture, abortion culture (all legacies of the 60s culture) were the beginnings of the slippery slope. (at least in modern times…we’ll leave our old friend Henry out of this for the moment)  Gay marriage is just the next slide.  The next slide will be polygamous marriages. By then we will be so far down the slippery slope that everything any of us thought we knew will be gone and the only safe place left will be the Catholic Church (and those of like mind).  Unless of course by then the Catholic faith has been obliterated from these islands.  Be careful what you wish for.   Sliding further down a very slippery slope doesn’t usually make things better.

  • scary goat

     Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

  • Sweetjae

    The first sentence of your post was a LIE, you are not a catholic priest, so how in the world anybody would believe you?

  • Sweetjae

    It’s not homophobic, we just don’t agree with your version of moral standards. Gay people have the freedom to live with whomever they want, so why force us to endorse same sex unions which would violate our conscience?

  • Sweetjae

    Yes it is, the very reason why you are existing and talking today was because of ONE FACT, that you are a product of the so called institution of marriage and sexual exclusivity between a man and a woman. You would not be here if both of parents are men. So have some gratitude.

  • Sweetjae

    Nice points, though you forgot the hippie-free sex culture and whatever feels good culture.

  • JabbaPapa

    Their account of marriage seems to start with their “Council of Trent”

    ???????!!!???

    If you had studied any sort of History yourself, you would know that the Institution of Marriage as we know it predates Antiquity — Roman Law certainly defined Marriage in the traditional manner described, anyway.

    [The] “Council of Trent” … was … a political act designed to increase their power

    This statement is just a red flag, indicating you don’t know what you’re talking about. Again.

  • JabbaPapa

    Hallo phil129 !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    scary, it’s just “phil” up to his usual destructive and trollish sockpuppeteering.

    Best to ignore him.

  • majorcalamity

    Here we go again! I think you would argue black was white if it suited your cause to defend the RC faith. I have studied history, and whilst the Romans certainly had their own laws (and a great deal of influence over the Roman Catholic version of Christianity)  it might surprise you to know that there were many other cultures which developed their own versions of marriage. Most had nothing to do with regulating how and when children were born, but were much more to do with binding tribes and land and making alliances between existing family units. In the UK this was pretty much the situation until the Church got themselves involved and started to formalise marriage which until then had been a pretty casual affair. So the concept of marriage has evolved and continues to evolve, as does everything. I think you need to just get used to it. You might, just, be able to postpone it, but the wheel of history is turning and there is no stopping it.

  • scary goat

     LOL. ok.  Just thought it better to play on the safe side.  Wouldn’t want to be too cheeky just in case.  :-D

  • majorcalamity

    No-one is forcing you to do, or endorse, anything. You are protesting and can continue to do for as long as you wish. Your Church is to be given an opt out and will not be required to perform same sex ceremonies. Your conscience objections are being respected.

    All that is asked is that you behave with the same degree of charity towards others, which ought to be easy for anyone who purports to be a Christian.

  • Adam

    I have tried to see both sides, and find the views of a vocal group in the Catholic Church quite baffling and akin to a desperate child having a tantrum.

    The simple fact is the world is changing and for the better.  The UK is not in any way leading on the issue of same sex marriage, it was first discussed in the Netherlands in 1994 and they were the pioneers so to speak.  Other countries have followed suit and these include what would be classed as not only Christian but Catholic countries such as Spain/Portugal which themselves are part of the EU and have to abide by the ECHR.  Legislation in these countries only goes to counter any argument that equal marriage will break down traditional families and harm children, an argument with absolutely no grounding even without these countries as an example to counter it.

    This change will happen, Civil Partnerships are not the same and were merely a stepping stone to marriage which itself was vocally opposed by the Church when debated, yet now it suits the Church to agree with CP’s in a desperate attempt to stop equal marriage law being passed.  Just one of many examples of double standards.

  • scary goat

     Being realistic, knowing that it happens, acknowledging the good in others. It doesn’t mean they condone legalising gay marriage in any way.  We could also say many co-habiting couples, or divorced and re-married couples raise children in loving and caring homes.  We could also say many muslims in (currently illegal) polygamous marriages raise children in loving and caring homes.  It’s a statement of fact.  It recognises the potential to be “loving and caring” in human nature.  It doesn’t mean we condone the principle.  It’s “hate the sin, love the sinner”.  The sin by the way is sodomy, or other sexual expressions (which can also be committed by heterosexual couples).  The sin isn’t loving another person of the same sex.  It’s how you express that love.  The bishops are arguing against same-sex marriage for many reasons….no-one ever said bishops or Catholics in general hate gays.  It’s got a lot more to do with protecting society in general from relativism, and protecting Catholic beliefs from censorship.

  • Adam

    Reading down further comments, the insistence of some her to put committed couples in a same sex relationship on a par with polygamy, incest and pedophilia only goes to prove my point.  The RC faith is so far out of touch and it is laughable.  These are the views you want to protect from the ECHR?  I can understand why those in the church that hold them are afraid of being accessed of being homophobic bigots.  You are doing your faith no favours here.

  • Adam

    “I can understand why those in the church that hold them are afraid of being accused of being homophobic bigots” even (men should not try and multi-task!)

  • Ann

    Nazis in Austria early 20th C were minority..

  • Nick

    1)  – No it doesn’t set a precident. It just means that homo and hetero / sexual people can get married to the person they love. – End of. All of the other variants you’re talking of don’t come into it. If, in 20 years time, there is a call from muslims for legalised polygamy, then no doubt the Government of the day will consider it. So its correct to say that I don’t support it now – but as society evolves, I might support it in 20 years time if the thinking, calling and requirement at that time was different to now.

    2) – What don’t you understand about the phrase “In our society”? I would have thought it perfectly clear! And I don’t believe we are in a “post-Christian” society – you just can’t accept that more and more Christians, more and more Christian faiths, churches and church people are supporting equality for Gay people and equal marriage. David Cameron describes himself as ‘vaguely Christian’  – who are you or anyone else to say that he isn’t.

    “An incestuous relationship (gay or staright) between estranged siblings” – Err well if they were estranged, they wouldn’t be having any kind of relationship would they – incestuous or otherwisw. You’re just being silly now.

  • Nick

    Agree totally and especially in the area of Civil Partnerships. The churches were as opposed to them at the time as they are to equal marriage now. And yet as you say, they now hold CP’s up as a shining example of why we don’t need equal marriage and CP’s fulfill the requirement.

  • Nick

    “The Institution of Marriage as we know it predates Antiquity” – Yes exactly JabbaJabba. Which means it predates the Christian church and indeed most other churches. Meaning you don’t have exclusive call on its meaning and useage.

  • Nick

    Here we are scary goat – proof positive of everything I’ve been saying.

  • Nick

    But let me ask you something scary goat – Do you think Gay people should be discriminated against?

  • Nick

    It is homophobic. – Yes, Gay people do indeed have the right to live with whomever they want – as do straight people. But Gay people can’t marry the person they love whereas straight people can. That’s the injustice that’s about to be righted.

  • Nick

    Well put majorcalamity

  • Nick

    Then if we can accept that “many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes”. And if marriage is the best type of relationship for raising children – then we can only draw one possible conclusion. That by allowing same sex couples to marry, we’ll be combining those two states – that married same sex couples provide the best basis for raising children in loving and caring homes!

    As for “The sin by the way is sodomy, or other sexual expressions (which can also be committed by heterosexual couples).” – Yes exactly, that’s the point. Straight couples can and do everything that Gay couples do. But not all Gay couples do. Hence this is a complete red herring.

  • Nick

    Ok JabbaJabba, in respect of Christ’s teaching, what did he say about Homosexuality?
    What is there in Matthew, Mark, Juke and John that tells us exactly what Jesus said about Homosexuality? 

  • Nick

    Agh so you do accept that a majority of people are now infavour of equal marriage. – Well done.

  • Nick

    Ah I’ve got you JabbaJabba –
    I do not have any political allies…
    Nothing is being imposed….
    Many religious minorites support the change….
    You are still allowed your opinions and needs…

    Everying in your post above is wrong, and incorrect.
    I’ve just exposed you as a fraud.

  • Nick

    The proposals are designed to allow two people who love each other to marry.
    Whereas you seem to be preoccupied with how people have sex.
    And haste? Gay people have been waiting centuries for this moment – I would call that haste!!

  • Nick

    No one, including muslims is calling for polygamy to be legalised.
    In civilised society and particularly western civilised society, people form relationships in couples.

    BUT – are you saying you want polygamy legalised scary goat?
    And if not, why keep referring to it?

  • Nick

    The only reason you think it treats the two types of couple differently is because you’re obsessed with what they do or don’t do in bed!
    As ever with Catholics, it comes back to sex.

    And I don’t hear any straight couples asking for the adultery clause to be dropped, so I doubt it will be (even though adultery is a rather archaic term in the 21st century and perhaps should be dropped anyway). Unreasonable behaviour would be sufficient.

  • Nick

    “Divorce culture, contraception culture, single parent culture, radical feminism culture, abortion culture” – By their very definition, I don’t think you can lay any of that at the door of Gay people. You need to look at your fellow straights.

    Look at the hostility of the church and Catholics to Civil Partnerships a decade ago. And yet everyone agrees thay’ve been overwhelmingly successful. Even the Catholic church now supports them (pretends) to try and demonstrate why equal marriage isn’t necessary. Hardly a slippery slope.

    And in reference to the Catholic faith being obliterated from these islands – equal marriage has been intruduced into plenty of countries where Catholicism is much stronger that here – Spain and Portugal for example.

  • JabbaPapa

    I see — so the opposition against CPs at the time, on the grounds that their introduction was an attempt to overthrow Marriage, were somehow not justified ???

    Notwithstanding that this is, in fact, exactly what’s happening ?

  • Nick

    I didn’t need a counter argument – yours was so flawed that one wasn’t required. 

  • Nick

    Yes we did read it JabbaJabba – it said  “many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes”

  • Nick

    I’m not in a position to give you any guarantees am I – have you spoken to your MP?

  • Nick

    How interesting that Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Governments Faith Ministe,r has confirmed that she will now be voting in favour of equal marriage, because she’s happy with the answers to the questions she posed in respect of the legal opt outs for chuches. All is well in the world.

  • JabbaPapa

    I think you would argue black was white if it suited your cause to defend the RC faith

    You ARE using “black is white” type arguments in your defense of the notion of “gay marriage”.

    Most had nothing to do with regulating how and when children were born, but were much more to do with binding tribes and land and making alliances between existing family units.

    Notwithstanding your attempt at self-contradiction, I take note of your acknowledgement that Marriage is about families — not romance.

    (“regulating how and when children were born” ??? where did this ODD notion come from ?)

    until the Church got themselves involved and started to formalise marriage which until then had been a pretty casual affair

    In fact — the State.

  • JabbaPapa

    Estranged from their family, obviously.

  • Nick

    How do you know that –
    1) I am a product of the so called institution of marriage?
    And
    2) The sexual exclusivity between a man and a woman?

    How can you possibly make those presumptions?

    That I am here today has NOTHING TO DO with the so called institution of marriage and NOTHING TO DO with the sexual exclusivity between a man and a woman. – PLEASE PROVE TO ME THAT IT DOES?!!!!

  • Nick

    No JabbaJabba, just anti prejudice.