Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ten ways redefining marriage would damage civil liberty

Freedom to disagree and the right to private conscience are fundamental liberties in any truly open society. Yet, the Government has utterly failed to consider the impact on civil liberty of its plans to redefine marriage (See their proposals here).

The Coalition for Marriage has just released a new leaflet outlining ten ways redefining marriage would damage civil liberty.

If the meaning of marriage changes in law, they argue, based on expert legal opinion that:

1.Teachers in state schools will be forced to endorse the new definition of marriage. Those that refuse could be disciplined or even dismissed. Such action would be legal.

2.Parents will ultimately have no legal right to withdraw their children from lessons which endorse the new definition of marriage across the curriculum.

3.NHS/University/Armed forces chaplains could be lawfully fired by their employers if they express, even outside work time, the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

4.Foster carers could be legally rejected by local authorities on the basis that they fail to embrace the new definition of marriage.

5.Public sector workers could be demoted or dismissed for expressing support for marriage between one man and one woman.

6.Registrars who have a conscientious objection to the new definition of marriage will be dismissed unless they are prepared to act against their beliefs.

7.Churches/mosques/synagogues could ultimately be forced to perform same-sex weddings if a Government ban on such weddings in religious premises is overturned by the European courts.

8.The Church of England may have to disestablish or face the prospect of court action because, as the established church, it must provide a wedding to any person who is legally eligible to get married.

9.Faith-based charities could be banned from hiring public facilities if they refuse to endorse the new definition of marriage.

10.Clergy who disagree with same-sex marriage, but who are in a denomination which has no such objection, could be taken to court if the Government allows religious same sex weddings.


The scenarios above are based upon a legal opinion written by Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer. A summary of the legal opinion is available from the C4M website

See also (on this blog site) - Same-sex marriage - 24 articles on all aspects of the UK debate

I'm happy to publish links to longer responses to this post on this page on request:

Responses

1. Dan Abrahmsen

23 comments:

  1. The scenarios above are actually woefully out-of-date considering the proposals have moved on since the legal opinion was given...

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  2. Not so. Most of these have not even been considered by the government who have given wishful assurances not backed up by sound legal opinion.

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  3. Well take number 8 for example. The CofE will be banned from performing same-sex marriages, so it's a total non-issue. If anyone wants to overturn that ban, then they'd have to sue the Government, and not the CofE. There's no danger at all to them.

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  4. This remains to be seen. We haven't seen the text of the bill yet. Besides once same-sex marriage is established as an entity it will be much easier to tweak the legislation and Labour have pledged the option of church weddings.

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  5. According to a report I say today, Th minister who cobbled this together has said elswhere that Cof E churches can opt in. shambles much?

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  6. I love the ridiculous notion bandied about by C4M and others that gay couples who want to marry would be only too keen to jeopordise what should be the happiest day of their lives by deliberately picking a venue to marry in whose proprietors didn't support their relationship (or thought they would burn in hell or God would smite them or whatever), and then sue for the 'privilege' of getting married there! A venue that has been forced to perform the service is not exactly a recipe for a happy atmosphere at one's wedding..

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    1. I could image a couple sorely pained that they grew up in a quaint village, and had always been the family's intent that he/she would marry there, but now there's some bigoted, nasty vicar who only got there a few years ago, and it's just this nasty vicar who won't let them have this beautiful marriage. The old one was okay but not this one. If only we could rid this country of those turbulent priests.

      The press would love it, and this story could become a rallying cause.

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  7. I agree that the overwhelming majority will not take this course. However if some individuals target bed and breakfasts they will do the same for churches. It only takes one vexatious couple or activist. Equally venues for weddings are only one target. See the list above for the other possibilities. There have already been hundreds of court cases of this nature in Canada since gay marriage was legalised.

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    1. Pete, marriage in churches is entirely different to goods and services, even the legislation excludes religious organisations, so, as I said to you on twitter, you don't know the law - you're just repeating the untruths that your religious right-wing friends have told you.

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  8. The CofE will indeed be able to opt in - but ONLY if they ask the Government to remove the ban, which would require primary legislation.

    Until then, because the Government has effectively outlawed same-sex marriages in CofE churches, nobody can actually take the CofE to court because they're just obeying the law of the land...

    That's even before you have the previous locks! Do keep up!

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    1. This is indeed a very serious situation. In effect the Government has become the arbiter of the Church's doctrine. For if the Government thinks it can protect the Church's doctrine by a quadruple lock then it can also destroy the Church"s doctrine by removing the lock. Either way religious freedom and freedom of conscience is now up to a 51% majority in Parliament at any one given moment. Another building block of Western Civilisation now bites the dust constructed as it is on freedom of religion.

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    2. What? You're not making sense. The CofE DOES have freedom of religion. The only reason the Government has "banned" them from doing something they were never going to do is to protect them from legal challenges. It's their own special unique version of the opt-out. It means they can remain a part of the establishment, but not be forced into marrying same-sex couples.

      The other locks are essentially just reiterating what is already guaranteed by the ECHR...that religions won't be forced into performing ceremonies if they don't want to.

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  9. Surely the government BANNING the church of england from holding same-sex marriages is a complete counter action to Cameron's vote-grabbing pledge? I'd like to see seperation between church and state, as I fear that within a few years we won't be able to read aloud certain Bible passages in church.

    Then again, I really don't want same-sex 'marriages' to be legalised at all because one day I would like to be a husband of but one wife, and not merely a partner of another partner.

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    1. "I really don't want same-sex 'marriages' to be legalised at all because one day I would like to be a husband of but one wife, and not merely a partner of another partner."

      Have you any idea how stupid and petty that sounds?

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  10. People! READ THE CONSULTATION RESPONSE! Have any of you ACTUALLY done so? The terms "husband" and "wife" are being retained. The term "partner" WILL NOT replace them.

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  11. My reflections (https://www.facebook.com/notes/peter-parslow/reflections-on-same-sex-marriage/10150583141766364) - similar, but not refined down to bullet points.

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  12. I don't think any of these things are going to happen. All a bit overblown, Nightmare on Elmstreet stuff.

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  13. I just posted a link to this page in reply to http://www.tfa.net/2012/12/19/nicholas-rogers-gay-marriage-a-libertarian-view/#comment-2691 Nicholas Rogers is taking the same line as Tim Montgomerie, that this is a fuss over nothing that will fade away quickly as soon as the law is passed.

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  14. I tried to post under my Google account, but it didn't work, so this reply is to identify myself!

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  15. All thazt drama queenery boils down to is: discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation will continue to be illegal, perfectly normal human beings who love their children will no longer be denied equal human rights, and the terminally insecure and bigoted will have to look elsewhere for their hate speech.

    I can see them heading my way already.

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  16. What a load of bigotted, prejudiced rubbish.
    What is the blogger scared of?

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  18. Points 1-6: So what? Marriage equality is a simple matter of justice. You don’t get to cry “Waaah, what about MY rights?” just because you can no longer act with impunity in seeking to deprive others of their human rights.

    Points 7-10: It is such a pity churches cannot see fit to welcome gay people in marriage. There’s enough in the scriptures for any devout Christian to reconcile their faith with marriage equality. Correct, Jesus did say marriage was for a man and a woman. But look at the context. He was responding to a leading question “When can a man divorce his wife?” It was asked by pharisees out to test him on the patriarchal practice of polygamy and the unjust divorce laws of the time when a woman could be divorced on spurious grounds. Elsewhere, Corinthians “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” A stern edict that you can do all the pious gong-clanging you like, but if you’re not acting in love what you’re saying is meaningless. Gay people are telling Christians loudly and clearly that they’re not being treated with love. That the current laws are hurting them and those who fight against reform are hurting them. Dr Saunders you are not a bad person and you couldn’t possibly be unaware of the trauma your position is causing blameless people. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Your faith is obviously deeply important to you but you have your orders here, love trumps faith. It must be difficult for you to reconcile your opposition to marriage equality with your devotion to the word of God. I put it to you that there is no conflict, there is only one truth, you’ve simply been interpreting it wrongly. “God is love and he who lives in love lives in God and God in him.” Trust in love, love your neighbour and all will be well.

    Marriage equality will come into law in the UK. The sad thing is gay people won’t feel truly equal unless either they are welcomed into the church like everybody else, or their heterosexual friends fall out of love with the popular romance of a church wedding. @greenclouds4

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