Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Gay Marriage: A Thoroughly Modern Way Of Making Law?

Before you read this, I am not making any judgement on whether gay marriage is right or wrong. It's entirely irrelevant to this article, got that? Good.

What I find most interesting about the policy is that this appears to be the very first proposed law which has completely avoided even the remotest semblance of democracy. It wasn't mentioned in the Conservative, Lib Dem, or even Labour manifestos at the last election, but then we've become used to such documents being about as important as Andrex these days since the last government went to court to defend their right to mislead the electorate.

However, gay marriage within the auspices of a church is - as far as I am aware - the first major government policy which has not only not been voted on by the public, but which has also not been subject to proper government consultation. In fact, it was specifically stated that this was not an option (page 8, point 2.5). I expect this blog's official theologian will have an expert view on that.

If installed, it would be our first democracy-free piece of primary legislation (not SI), decided purely on the say-so of 650 privileged individuals in the Westminster politburo. It's the way of the future, obviously.

Or is there a precedent where our slippery state bastards honed their comprehensive public-avoiding skills? Go on, tell me I'm wrong.


Paul Scully said...

Dick, as far as I understand it the reason for including gay marriage within the auspices of a church is to ensure that the ECHR cannot rule against it. I've not looked closely at this, but I assume that this is to allow Freedom of Religion to trump other claims to force churches to marry same-sex couples. Whether any church conducts such services will be determined by their own rules dictated by their articles of faith.
Having said that, if I have it right, it's a messy way to have to deal with the ECHR, a body which we ought to have nothing to do with.

Curmudgeon said...

While making no comment as to whether or not gay marriage is a good idea, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that many of those championing this policy are doing so for reasons unrelated to either freedom or equality.

Maybe it would be better if the state only recognised civil partnerships, whether hetero- or homosexual. If churches or other bodies then wish to conduct "marriages" according to their own principles, that would be up to them, but it would have no legal standing.

Ian R Thorpe said...

I heard someone on TV say it's a ploy to show the rank and file Tories who is in charge. I have a feeling Dave may be about to find out who actually is in charge.

Churchmouse said...

Thank you, Dick, for the kind mention!

The Synod just got through with the vote against women bishops which has female clergy up in arms.

Same-sex marriage is now the next focus for the C of E. C of E bishops met yesterday and today to discuss the way forward (see link to David Virtue's site): http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=16913#.UMdPMay0OSo

This will take some time, so expect the story to continue after Christmas (my guess).

David Cameron was not happy about the vote against women bishops and said that Anglicans 'need to get with the programme'. I haven't yet read a good New Testament-based rationale for women clergy yet outside of the fact that women were less educated at that time. Still, that's another topic entirely.

My concern about same-sex marriage is that churches will end up being forced -- even if the government denies it now -- to perform such ceremonies. It will be interesting to see how mosques fare in this.

The PDF you cited had my head spinning. How does someone come up with such stuff? Things like this:

'Individuals who are in a civil partnership could apply to convert their civil partnership to a marriage and then obtain a full Gender Recognition Certificate – individuals could not remain in their civil partnership as this would create an opposite-sex civil partnership which is not under consideration.'

Speaking of mosques, a new gay-and-lesbian one opened a week or so ago in Paris. Hmm.

The French are also talking about same-sex marriage as it's being debated in their Parliament, and many are not happy about it. They would like a referendum. It would be nice if we in the UK had one, too. However, both governments will be deciding on their respective legislation, it would seem.

I watched the end of last week's politics show on BBC1 last Sunday morning -- the one Andrew Neil hosts. (For the BBC, it's not bad.) Neil asked the regular panellist from the FT why there are so many personal laws being proposed with such gusto. The FT man said that politicians felt powerless about the bigger issues and felt they could make a better 'symbolic gesture' with personal laws (e.g. same-sex marriage). So, now we know where and how smoking bans, plain packaging and minimum pricing fit.

The FT panellist added -- and I thought this confirmed what we already suspected but perhaps weren't 100% certain about -- that today's Conservative government is socially left-wing and only right-of-centre when it comes to matters fiscal.


moonrakin said...

Gender Recognition Certificate?

Has anybody consulted Grayson Perry?

There is something in the "politicians feel powerless" theory = so they concentrate on pointless gestures and greasing squeaking wheels. In truth though, stupidity, avarice and laziness with no adverse consequences for screw-ups and prizes for all regardless seem to characterise most of the 650 odd goons in Westminster's "lower house".

Conniving public servants also have much to answer for - it doesn't take much at all to imagine Cameron being manipulated by a coterie of Sir Humphreys into serial bouts of epic twattery - unless I'm seriously misreading the situation David Cameron makes Jim Hacker look good...

Edgar said...

Why are so many people tippy-toeing around this? "I am not making any judgement on whether gay marriage is right or wrong." Why not? What are you afraid of, Dick? It is a sad state of affairs when honourable jewel thieves are cowed into silence by a prance of 'men' with too-short hair and a claque of wimmin in dungarees. Jeez, grow back your spine, man. Gay 'marriage' is nothing less than a travesty of an ancient institution, which will destroy every vestige of respectability and dignity in heterosexual relationships by means of a mincing trivialisation of one of the strongest bonds that held together civilisation.

Churchmouse said...

Ha -- Grayson Perry. Nice!

French lefties have been protesting against shale gas since 2010. I saw one of their protests along the Rue d'Antibes in Cannes that summer and can confirm it was all ageing eco-warriors. It tells me that shale gas -- or as our cousins across the Channel would say, 'gaz du schiste' -- is an excellent idea. ;)

What good are those windmills doing except ruining the scenery? They're always off when the wind is blowing. What sense does that make?

moonrakin said...

just in case anybody doesn't know :-)

Dave said...

Jay at NannyingTyrants has not posted or tweeted since end of November & didn't sign off on holidays or anything. Never known him to be absent so long. Hope he's OK? Any info?

Mr A said...

Heh, glad you mentioned the last line - there was one piece of legislation that we all know got through with no mandate at all....

Mr A said...

There are a lot of parallels with the smoking ban, in fact. As a libertarian I have to wonder what business it is of the State to interfere in the private lives of two, consenting adults? As such the equalising of legal rights through civil partnerships was to be welcomed. Then again, I also have to wonder what right the State has to wade in to what voluntary clubs (ie Churches) say is right or not - these things are "club rules" - if the club says something is wrong and isn't allowed why should you want to join that club? Alternatively, start your own! Having the State wade in to such things is intrusive and wrong. Again, a little like a certain piece of legislation that stops smoking bar owners employing smoking staff to cater for smoking customers - everyone is consenting, the act is legal - why should the State wade in?

Also, interesting that the gay lifestyle is State-sanctioned while other ways of life are to be prohibited and denormalised. I wonder how one gets into that blessed position?

Curmudgeon said...

This article by Brendan O'Neill articulates very well my misgivings about the proposals: "Under the radical cover of being pro-gay,
the state is expanding its sovereignty over all of our private lives and
most intimate relationships."

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You got it. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Thanks for your input, CM, it's always very considered on such matters.

Oh, and on curing bacon too. ;)