Well … the Same Sex Marriage trolley trundles on, now with the news that the government’s “consultation” will have no bearing on the legislation.
One big issue with the proposal is that some activist groups or individual activists may try to use any new legislation as a stepping stone to force churches to allow such unions on their premises. The legislation as put forward doesn’t require churches to marry same-sex couples. Apparently that is to be “crystal clear”. But would that be enough to stop activist groups pursuing the churches if they wanted to? Many people say no. The government’s intent is that such an action would be in contradiction to the law, and my own opinion is that it would be petty and frivolous.
As the law stands a church can refuse to marry any couple they do not wish to, if an ordinary couple get turned down by a priest or vicar because they aren’t from the parish or they aren’t of that faith or whatever then the couple just has to go and seek out a clergyman (or clergy woman these days) who will.
To my knowledge no one has ever pursued such a vicar through the courts.
To clarify my own position, if one wants to marry in a church then one wants their union to be blessed in the faith and beliefs that that church espouses, if that church considers homosexuality to be a sin and that same sex unions are an affront to God then why on earth would a same sex couple want to be married there? Unless they were being petty, frivolous and more than a tad vindictive.
It makes no sense whatsoever to me why anyone would do such a thing and why anyone would support them in doing so. As ever when I can make no sense of something I ask.
So I asked on Twitter, I thought perhaps some gay person trawling for an argument might over react at me but I struck lucky and it turns out that one of my followers is not only “a gay” but is capable of rational and largely non pejorative discussion. Imagine my surprise. I say “largely non pejorative” because there was a slightly unnecessary reference to “Sky fairies”, and yet an acknowledgement that such a comment was uncalled for was forthcoming if not an apology.
Anyway, the chap in question is @Saturos79 and new new twitter will allow you to see the full discussion on his stream, or on mine for that matter. That’s the only good thing about new new twitter, I still prefer old new twitter myself.
I’m not going to transcribe or snapshot and paste an entire discussion here because I can’t be bothered but the nub was this:
Although he isn’t of faith himself and wouldn’t want a church wedding himself if someone wanted one and didn’t get one he’d support their right to sue. Even though the law wouldn’t require churches to conduct such ceremonies if he thought that someone wanting to pursue such a course was genuine he would support them regardless of any other consequences beyond the issues of same sex marriages in churches.
And trust me, the moment a court decides to tell the Roman Catholic church that a matter of doctrine is illegal all merry hell will break loose. Don’t forget that while Roman Catholics are a minority in the UK they are a majority in most European countries and in countries around the world. No UK court is going to risk being the one that makes that judgement and if they don’t rule for the homosexuals an activist group will bounce it up a level until it hits the ECHR. Who can see the ECHR trying to tell 30% of the world’s population that the doctrine of their church is illegal? It’s beyond a can of worms. It’s a massive barrel of snakes. And it’s a barrel of snakes that a minority group in the UK might try to open for reasons of vindictive irreligion.
Of course I’m basing this on the opinions of one man. But I think one man who is relatively moderate in his pursuit of equality. Imagine what an extremist or a professional activism group might do in the same situation.
And they haven’t got back to me.
So in place of response, conjecture.
I think, with a sinking feeling of inevitability, that they would go down the legal route and they’d do it with alacrity regardless of the consequences. Because this is the sort of world we now live where, instead of words and persuasion people think the best way to get their point across is to wave the law at people.