Clegg set to open the way for churches to hold gay marriages

Via The Independent:

Nick Clegg will allow Parliament to go further in its plans to legalise gay marriage and enable churches and other religious institutions to conduct the ceremonies, The Independent has learned…

In a letter to the Quakers, Unitarian and Free Christian churches and Liberal Judaism, who all want to conduct same-sex marriages, Mr Clegg indicated that religious groups could be given the option.

He said: “No religious organisation who does not wish to conduct a same-sex marriage should be forced to do so. But religious liberty means allowing those churches and organisations who want to open their doors and welcome same-sex couples to do so, as much as it means respecting the rights of those who do not.” He added: “It is Liberal Democrat party policy, and my personal view, that those organisations who do wish to conduct same-sex marriages, should be free to do so. It is not the place of government to mandate religious organisations to conduct gay marriages. But nor is it the place of government to ban them from doing so.”

The point about what other religions want is an important one, both in its own right and also because it puts the opposition of some other Christians in a rather different light. Why should the law specially privilege the (official) view of the Catholic Church over those other Christians want to do illegal?

Railing against the state legislating over marriage often sounds like an issue of church versus state; in reality it is harking back to the less glorious past of Christian infighting to demand that the law should permit only some Christians to follow their own faith.

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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6 Comments

  • Of course, it’s difficult to know to what extent Clegg is responsible for the tenor of the coverage by the Independent, but I do think it’s a typical ta ctical blunder on his part to raise this issue at this time. It plays completely into the hands of the scaremongering by some religious elements. I’m sure they will be saying “We told you so” in reaction to this story.

  • Just remember what John Sentamu said, on Andrew Marr, when he was asked about how he felt about the government proposals to allow Civil Partnerships to take place in church (as now happens).

    He said;

    “I live in a liberal democracy and I want equality for everybody. I cannot say the Quakers shouldn’t do it. Nor do I want somebody to tell me the Church of England must do it or the Roman Catholic Church must do it..”

    What moral authority do the Catholic leadership, or CoE leadership, or Muslim Council of Britain, have to tell other religions that they cannot follow their own beliefs, and to seek to deny those other religions the freedom they demand for themselves?

  • I went to a blessing ceremony of a same sex partnership in a Unitarian church last July.
    The service was led by a Catholic priest.

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