Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Same Gender Marriage
In the UK, for some time there have been undercurrents of disagreement as various groups share their expectations for the future of Marriage. I have followed various sides of the argument and have on a couple of occasions considered writing a blog about my thoughts. I don't hide the fact that I am a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) As you may expect my thoughts are influenced by my beliefs. As I write this I am aware some will read and disagree. I don't have a problem with people disagreeing. A fundamental tenant of Mormonism is found in what we call the 13 Articles of Faith
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
So you may agree with all, some or non of the following... let us not fall out about it.
The Governments thoughts are to change the current law to allow couples of the same gender to marry. This it is argued, would bring equality and improve the present situation, which allows for Civil Partnerships. Many of the arguments raised against such changes are described as outdated at best, bigoted at worst.
Yesterday the Church of England stirred up the debate considerably. They argue that because they are THE church of the state, with the Monarch at the head they have a different role in Marriage. It is accepted that as the states church their "Cannons" or church laws are accepted as state law. They therefore argue that changing a civil law to openly oppose a church cannon, completely changes the dynamics of the relationship between the church and state. Unlike other countries this also calls into question the role of the Queen. As the head of state she as mentioned is also the head of the Church of England. Known as the Defender of the Faith (Fidei defensor in latin) which is why all UK coins have the inscription FD or FD DEF.
Potentially changing the law on marriage could in affect make much deeper changes to the nature of the country, which gives me potentially the only ever chance to use the word Antidisestablishmentarianism in a blog post, meaning to oppose the breakup of the relationship between the Church of England and the State. Disestablishment may be difficult to do if you read the promise made by a Monach at a coronation.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?"
The Queen: "All this I promise to do. The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God." (coronation)
So I think it's fair to say parliament has created a pretty large challenge for themselves to make what may be considered by many a simple change. There are however further changes that would need to be made in order for Same Gender marriage to work.
Although considered by many to be an old tradition or forgotten part of the law, for marriage to be legally recognised it must be consummated. This is still a part of British law and is still in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Section 12
Failure to consummate a marriage is grounds for an annulment. With the legal definition being that "Consummation requires sexual intercourse which is ordinary and complete" Law Teacher Again this is seen as a simple fix, change the wording... To what? This also causes problems for the Catholic church who currently do not allow Divorce but will allow a separation based on an annulment.
Now there are those that say church and state are too close anyway. There are also comments that the church is really not affected as the proposed legislation "ring fences" churches so no church would be made to perform a Same Gender Marriage. This sounds good in principal, but it has already been suggested that such a ring fence will not stand up to European human rights / equality laws. In much the same way we never expected human rights laws to be used to prevent a Christian wearing a cross to work.
So I have above I have outlined some of the things I have read around as I have listened to many sides of the argument, but where do I stand?
Currently I have no problems with people choosing to have a Same Gender Civil Partnership.
I think there is far more involved in the word marriage than is made out by those that want it for all.
I believe that marriage is inseparably linked to religion for many people.
I don't consider myself to be homophobic, I accept people for what they are, regardless of race, religion or orientation.
I believe that "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan" Family Proclamation
I recognise that in a big world, we have to find ways to coexist and live together with differing beliefs, but also feel that I want to express my thoughts as openly as those who would have us make changes. Because the changes suggested affect more than those who would benefit.
What do you think ?
Further reading Telegraph Article