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Archbishops express disappointment after same-sex marriage is legalised

By on Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Supporters of same-sex marriage gather outside Parliament in London (PA)

Supporters of same-sex marriage gather outside Parliament in London (PA)

The Bishops of England and Wales have expressed disappointment after same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales today.

A statement signed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, respectively the president and vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “In receiving Royal Assent, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act marks a watershed in English law and heralds a profound social change. This fact is acknowledged by both advocates and opponents of the Act.

“Marriage has, over the centuries, been publicly recognised as a stable institution which establishes a legal framework for the committed relationship between a man and a woman and for the upbringing and care of their children. It has, for this reason, rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

“The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become 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, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

“Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

“A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

“In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted.

“The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in ‘having regard’ to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can ‘take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets’, and that ‘having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so’. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed.

“We were disappointed that a number of other amendments to safeguard freedom of speech and the rights of civil registrars to conscientious objection were not passed. But Ministerial assurances have been made that no one can suffer detriment or unfavourable treatment in employment because she or he holds the belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

“The legal and political traditions of this country are founded on a firm conviction concerning the rights of people to hold and express their beliefs and views, at the same time as respecting those who differ from them. It is important, at this moment in which deeply held and irreconcilable views of marriage have been contested, to affirm and strengthen this tradition.”

  • PaulF

    Agreed. And attention is their oxygen.

  • Arden Forester

    The legal truth of Mrs Miller’s half-baked law is that there is a consummated marriage for heterosexuals and a non-sexual union for homosexuals. On one side adultery counts, on the other it does not. Mrs Miller rabbits on about equality but this law is anything but equal. She’s a dissembler of the highest order.

  • aaglaas

    Why thank you. However, being born gay has no relation at all to alcoholism or drug addiction. I’m sorry you let yourself belief such ridiculous things. That said, you know absolutely nothing about my ‘lifestyle’… How ludicrous for you to assume you do.

    I ‘am’ in full control, I ‘am’ very proud to be gay, and I am far from being lost. What you do not understand is that modern society has rejected your medieval teachings regarding gays, and that is why 17 nations have now legalized same-sex marriage. You paint yourself ever further into a illogical corner on this, and retreat from fact and reality.

    It is ‘you’ who are lost on this issue regarding your fellow human souls.

  • Will

    We need to stop pulling our punches and playing by Liberal rules….they have us fighting with one hand tied behind our back. Say it like it is:

    The sexes only exist as two complementary roles in sexual reproduction. That is what male and female are.

    This means that each of the sexes, being intrinsically complementary in nature, have no
    meaning without the other. They only exist and have meaning for the role they play together; thus it takes a man to make a woman truly feel like a woman, and a woman to make a man truly feel like a man.

    It also means that heterosexuality can be recognised as the “default setting”, as
    sexual reproduction is intrinsically and inescapably heterosexual in nature, and that anything other than heterosexuality misses the whole point, nature and context of the sexes.

    Simply put, outside of heterosexuality, both the sexes themselves, and the sexual
    functionings (eg: sperm for men and periods for women), are rendered utterly meaningless. They have no purpose outside of heterosexuality, because it is only by their roles in (hetero)sexual reproduction that they have any meaning.

    What this means, in practice, is that there are only two “sexualities”; Heterosexuality, which is the “default setting” in which the sexes and their functionings have real meaning, and a kind of eroticised Asexuality, in which the sexes themselves (and the reproductive functionings of sperm and periods) are utterly meaningless and inconsequential. The latter, in denying something as intrinsic to human identity as the sexes, is then a pathological and literally dehumanising deviant “sexuality”, utterly disconnected
    from the purpose embedded in the sexes and their functionings, that in no way should be accepted as ‘normal’ and should never be regarded as the basis for marriage.

  • Will

    And laws, remember, can be repealed. As this noxious and foolish one should be.

  • aaglaas

    A bit of good news and more justice accomplished for the many horrors that were until relatively recently inflicted upon gay souls by their fellow citizens and own government. Alan Turing looks set to receive a pardon, after the government lent its support to a Bill that would overturn the wartime codebreaker’s conviction for being gay. Turing took his own life with cyanide in 1954 at the age of 41 – he had been sentenced to chemical castration for the crime of gross indecency.

    The mathematician, one of the fathers of computer science, worked at the British government’s Second World War code-breaking headquarters at Bletchley Park. He is best known for having cracked the messages sent by the German Enigma machines and is credited with saving the country from starvation.

    On Friday peers demanded that Turing be given a pardon as they gave Lord Sharkey’s Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill its second reading. The calls for a pardon were even more poignant given the passage of the government’s gay marriage legislation earlier this week.

    In 2009 Gordon Brown issued an apology to Turing on behalf of the government, describing the codebreaker’s treatment as “horrifying”.

    “Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction,” he said.

    “Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind … It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

    “So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

    Homosexuality was made illegal in 1885 – following a parliamentary debate that lasted just four minutes and heard contributions from just four speakers. Lord Sharkey reminded peers today that “the only discussion was over the penalty to be imposed”. Being gay was only decriminalised in 1967.

    In that time 75,000 men were convicted for being gay – 16,000 of them are still alive. Under the provisions of the coalition’s Protection of Freedoms Act, people in England and Wales convictions and cautions for consensual gay sex are able to have the offences removed from their criminal records.

    But those no longer alive, like Turing, are of course not able to apply.

  • scary goat

    Well, yes, of course promises to God should be kept. Just my way of saying no big surprises there then. The C of E have tampered with all sorts of things down the years….why would we expect anything different.

  • bosco49

    JabbaPapa is brusque, frank, and refreshing, and suffers no fool lightly, although on occasion lashing the innocent along with the guilty The Yanks would call that latter consequence ‘collateral damage’.

  • bosco49

    Only “yippee!”.

  • bosco49

    I suppose there might be the argument of ‘invincible ignorance’ which could be raised for her sake.

  • Deacon_Augustine

    Will, for the sake of accuracy, one should say that the “sexuality” is disordered whereas it is the resulting behaviour which can be deviant and dehumanising. There are many homosexuals who strive and succeed to live chastely and it would not be right to label them as deviants.

    Otherwise, good post.

  • chris

    Tru, by slowing breaking down traditional strongholds that hold moral ethics to account, opens up the doors on how parents are to govern their children. Once parents start to protest about what children are taught as right and wrong through schools then children may be able to take legal action against their parents adding more fuel to the raging fire. For example if the definition of marriage is to be abolished which supports the family unit then peoples understanding of their identity can also be abolished hence gender change and confusion.
    Parents may think the way out of all the mess is just do home school but that means the govt loses alot of money if parents pull out of sending kids to school leading to forcful legislation regarding kids having to attend states schools or private schools that support state ideas.
    Another thing to be concerned about is govt spying on organisations or religious groups that try to stop money being invested because of morals or religous beliefs.
    Malachi 4:6 saids” that a person or group of people representing the spirit of elija will come and turn the hearts of parents to children and children to parents”. Whether that was john the baptist or of a far future time I dont know but if the socail structure of civilisation is continualy demolished so that people can do what ever they want then it will become a godless secular world. As the bible saids something else will publicly stand in the place of god and confess itself to be god. For that to happen these things need to happen which are happening now

  • Will

    Ah, by “deviant” I meant that it deviates from the normal and healthy sexuality.