David Cameron’s coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat government announced last year that it would introduce legislation to allow same-sex civil marriage prior to the next general election, due in 2015. A period of consultation will be undertaken from this month, not on the merits of gay marriage, but rather on how the change can be introduced.
Cameron has stressed his personal support (or at least his recognition that gay marriage is probably a net vote winner in the electorate (if not his own party)), saying:
Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’
Of course, this has prompted much screaming from the old men. The former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey stated that:
Like many others, I was baffled by this statement. Not because I begrudge rights and benefits to homosexual couples. I was baffled because this Government’s proposal constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history.
The state does not own marriage… The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.
and the current Archbishop, Dr Rowan Willams, appears to agree with him (ETA: at least in public).
Apparently neither of these gentlemen had a problem with it when UK governments were passing laws to define marriage in a manner of which they approved.
Now the Catholic church has entered the fray, distributing a letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, which was to be read at all masses held today. The letter is, of course, the usual senseless blather from celibate know-it-alls in dresses about marriage being for the purpose of bringing about little Catholic babies or, as Bishop Nichols puts it:
Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility.
Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.
If you want, you can listen to Archbishop Nichols here, although I do warn you that two minutes of the good bishop is equivalent to about 10mg of rohypnol and a hammer to the right temple.
Opinion polls suggest that the churches are on the losing side – or at least those polls that aren’t written and paid for by Catholic organisations.
Even worse for the bishops, they seem to have lost old Rupert, with the Times coming out strongly for gay marriage:
Stable gay relationships are a part of national life. If marital law cannot accommodate them, the purpose of marriage will eventually be brought into question. Gay marriage will be a notable but still evolutionary social reform. And the marriage contract has changed historically to take account of shifting mores.
Earlier ages considered that allowing women to own property was against God and nature. Changing the law abolished a gross injustice and thereby enhanced the legitimacy of marriage. It is time to lift another form of discriminatory treatment. Reforming the law would enrich the lives of same-sex couples who wish to marry in order to affirm by rite that they love and are loved in return. By that commitment, they will enrich the society and culture that their fellow citizens share.
I could be wrong, but I suspect the gay marriage ship has already sailed, and it is simply a matter of time before the UK joins such heathen and anti-religious nations as Spain, Portugal and Belgium in the wanton rending of the fabric of their societies.
At least Archbishop Nicols will have a nice frock to wear when he gets carted off in chains and forced to gay-marry Boy George.
I think it’s great how the gays in England have brought the Catholics and the Anglicans together after so many centuries apart.
Gay people are truly God’s emissaries.
What bothers me is that marriage, in all its forms, predates Christianity, or any other part of religion for that matter, who the fuck knows what cro magnon man thought about two people in love being married? I remember that lovely line in “Cold Mountain” I am told in some religions you can get married by just saying I Marry You I Marry You I Marry You and then she says “oh no maybe it is I divorce you”. Inman then repeats “I marry you I marry you I marry you”. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that those two people were not married in every sense of the word? Didn’t think so.
He is right about one thing. Marriage, pair bonding, is older than nation states and older than Christianity. Whether it is older than religion is another question.
Now if they could just stop right there.
Thanks for the update on politics in Anglo land.
I feel a bit cheated by the links to the various Brit clergymen. I thought there would be fine old sherwy involved, but, nope. They seemed sober. Unfortunately.
This is one of those places where the Anglicans and the Episcopalians are not necessarily aligned. Our priests have had the green light since 2010 to perform same-sex marriages under the umbrella of the church, should couples wish it.
Women also cannot be ordained as priests in the Anglican church. So, Catholics and Anglicans agree on that too.
Amanda in the South Bay
You’re mixing up the terms “Anglican” and “Church of England.” Both the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Church of England are Anglican, though “Anglican” is more often used to describe the CofE rather than the Episcopal Church.
Women can be ordained in the CofE as priests, they cannot yet be consecrated bishops.
To Rowan Williams, specifically: The Anglican church was born out of the desire for divorce, no? Surely he knows this.
In other words, shut the fuck up and sit down. I don’t care what you or your worthless God think we need to do to make the lives of fellow humans more miserable. And that goes double for your claim to my future suffering, as well.
@Amanda in the South Bay: You’re right, and I knew about the Anglican Communion. The blog post referred to the Church of England as “Anglicans,” and I didn’t want to be pedantic in my language. I went with the flow. :)
I did not know that CoE now ordains women. Mea culpa. Thank you for the correction.
Sort of, kind of tangentially on-topic, but NPR played a clip from a StoryCorps interview that my husband and I did in 2010 on Morning Edition last Friday, about my transition from female to man and how we kept our marriage together. (So we turned our “straight” marriage into a “gay” marriage. Funny, it feels like the same marriage to *us*.)
So anyway, sometimes, when I’m bored, I do this shameful thing. I pull up the front page of Free Republic to see what they’re on about. (I especially like the Birfer threads. Yes, shameful, I know.)
So just a few minutes ago I noodled over there, and burst out in shocked laughter to see the link to NPR’s article on us at the top of their latest articles list. Ack!
Am I going to delve in and read the comments? I think not.
@LesGS: I’m glad you didn’t become a cat, Les. That seems a lot more complicated.
As one of barely a handful of people on this side of the pond who knew back in the mid-1990s who Rowan Williams was, and admired him greatly on the basis of his writings, all I can wonder is WTF happened to him.
To say that he has been a great disappointment as Archbishop of Canterbury is an understatement. And this latest stance of his is not just wrong, but also appears to be just plain incoherent.
I don’t think it’s really fair to blame Rowan Williams for his position. He’s in kind of an impossible position, where the whole Anglican Communion is in the process of falling apart over gay issues. Williams himself has been personally supportive of gay rights, but he also feels an obligation to try to hold the whole church together, including some very, very conservative (and homophobic) African branches.
@Amanda in the South Bay: I was at the consecration of the Bishop Coadjutor for New York yesterday, and the Pesiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, our equivalent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, looked resplendent in her robes.
A most welcome difference between us and the C of E.
(Edited to delete statement based on misreading A in South Bs post)
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams ordained gay men in partnerships when he was Archbishop of Wales, so he doesn’t have a personal problem with it. When he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury, both liberals and conservatives thought he’d ushered in a new era of liberal tolerance. But his current position on gay people, sadly, is taken because he’s head of the worldwide Anglican Communion (Christianity’s 3rd largest church with a presence in 143 countries) which is in a tug of war between First World countries (Canada, US, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, New Zealand, Australia outside of Sydney) who are supportive of gay rights, and Africans and Asians who are not. He doesn’t want to be responsible for the Anglican Communion coming apart (which is probably inevitable anyway).
The Episcopal Church (USA) has been very supportive of gay marriage for many years and has ordained women in all levels of ministry for years – so have the Canadians. The Church of England is still very much divided though with more clergy and laity being supportive than not. But yeah, the ABC’s statements reflect a political, more than religious, position as the Church of England is an established church.
(Former Archbishop Carey has been a raving asshole for many years. No one liked him when he was Archbishop. No one likes him now. At least in Anglicanism our leaders tend to serve for relatively short periods of time instead of Popes who serve for life. And we don’t believe they are inerrant.)
@LesGS: That’s wonderful! I’ll head over to check it out. :-)
No one has cared about the Church of England since Eddie Izzard stopped wearing women’s clothing.
OT, but too good not to share.
Rick Santorum via The Troubadour @ DKos:
I’m afraid any cracks I can make about this would be inadvertently offensive to Muslims, simply because I don’t know how you even discuss a comparison of Limbaugh to Mohammed without insulting Islam.
So. I’ll leave it up to Balloon Juice’s Muslim commenters to lead the way on the smart-assery duties here.
@Persia: LOL! I have *no* idea where she came up with that notion, and now, at almost 20, she has no recollection of what she had going on in her mind at that moment.
I’m only a transsexual (and sometimes a trans-sectional, when I have to move from tenor to baritone in my choir), not a trans-speciesist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Don’t mean to hijack the thread, but the Balloon Juice brackets are up on Yahoo. This year there are two games: Normal and Weird. Normals is for those who complained that there were too many bonus points last year, and the weird is for the rest of us, the professionals. As Hunter S. Thompson said: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Spoonerisms R Us. :-)
Davis X. Machina
Papist here, noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a schismatic pretender to an ancient see, prelate in a Church created out of thin air by the King in Parliament….
Seems to me it’s too late to start claiming there are just some things King, Lords, and Commons can’t change because they’re so old, and holy, and well-established.
That ship has sailed — off to fight the Armada.
@Davis X. Machina: Well, the Eastern Orthodox say exactly the same thing about the Bishop of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. According to them, the Bishop of Rome usurped power that wasn’t granted to him, made unauthorized theological and structural changes and excommunicated those who wouldn’t go along with it, so we learned from you.
Davis X. Machina
No, no, the Orthodox schis-ed from us, not the other way round!
BH in MA
“The state does not own marriage”.
Do they own it? No.
Does the state get to define what constitutes a legal marriage IN THE EYES OF THE STATE? Yes.
Can a church define who can and cannot be married in the eyes of that church? Yes.
Can two people, forbidden to marry by their church, obtain a legal marriage from the state provided they meet the state’s definition? Yes.
Does a marriage performed by a church have any legal weight if it does not meet the state’s legal definition of marriage? No.
If you are married in a church but do not obtain a marriage license, are you married? I don’t think so. I’m really not sure here – I had to show our minister our marriage license before she would perform our ceremony.
If a church decides that it’s okay for a man to marry a 12 year old girl, that marriage holds no legal weight. There is no right of inheritance, they can’t file a joint state tax return, they are not considered spouses as far as hospital visitation is concerned, they’re not responsible for each others debts, and if they consummate the marriage, the man would be arrested.
Meanwhile, the church CAN decide that their gay members can’t marry and refuse to allow gay weddings to be performed on their property by their employees. But their rights end there. They get to decide the rules for the people who are in their club. If you don’t live by their rules, then a) don’t join in the first place, b) quit the club, or c) expect to be kicked out. Their club – their rules.
But their right to define what marriage is or is not ends at the door of the church. They don’t get to define marriage for everyone. If the apparatus of the state goes through the necessary legal motions to change the definition of marriage, then it’s changed.
So no, they don’t “own marriage.” But states do define who can be LEGALLY married and define the rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage, and they always have.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Someone ought to ask Nichols that if:
then why do they keep buggering little boys? I tuned into the local Catholic Radio while in the car the other day and they were having a ‘discussion’ about the little boy problem in one area and how they were dealing with it. The host said that when they realized that they were doing badly at dealing with the problem they brought in outside help. This outside help was touted as being experienced with the issue because they too had blown it badly and were there to tell that congregation what NOT to do in dealing with it.
That’s like inviting shitty architects who built a building that collapsed onto another job site where shit is going wrong for the sole purpose of giving advice on how to not build it wrong.
“Whatever you do, don’t do what we did!!”
Stellar advice! Now sit back and watch the disaster unfold…
Well, if we’re lifting things to events on that side of the puddle, I’ll have another for Douglas Adams’s 60th.
I so wish my cousin, Hugh Montefiore, formerly (Anglican) Bishop of Birmingham, were still around to carve his clerical colleagues new ones, in the politest of Oxbridge tones.
He was, to the day he died (and in the obits after) remembered as this Anglican clergyman (as one tabloid put it): “Dean Says Jesus Was A Bugger!”
He was an advocate of a theology of marriage that looked past precedent to the person, as I paraphrase his essay on the subject, and given his punter’s love of a good brawl, would have been a delight to hear just now.
And what he would have said, I’m guessing, is that his esteemed superiors in the hierarcy were full of that which extrudes from the southerly end of a sheep nose into the north wind.
I’m also betting that he’d be agreeing with SPT that the bishops are far on the wrong side of time here. This is indeed a train far gone from the station.
@Davis X. Machina: Not according to them. It was the Pope’s representatives who entered the church of the Hagia Sophia during the Divine Liturgy and placed a bull of excommunication on the altar.
@LesGS: I heard the clip on NPR and thought it was such a wonderful commentary on love and relationships and how great individuals can be to each other in working through unexpected events. Literally made me smile and reaffirmed my belief that there is goodness out there.
@Davis X. Machina:
So he could, in a literal power grab, take all the power held by the catholic clergy. Oh, and fuck Anne Boleyn.
I’m an Anglican, and I lol’d.
Davis X. Machina
@toujoursdan: Well, DHL demands a signature for receipt of delivery….and everyone was at Mass anyways.
The US’s (Bowel) Movement Conservatives would label this “communist”.
@7 Oops! I clicked the wrong reply button originally.:
Last night I thought of you while I was pre-ordering.
I don’t know if you’ll remember but, a long while back we were yakking about movies and Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould came up, including mention of the exorbitant price tag on its out-of-print DVDs.
Late last night I stumbled upon its re-release. I instantly put together twenty five bucks worth of crap.
@sfinny: Thanks, sfinny. I realize I am a very lucky person, given how I grew up, where I live and who I know. But I honestly think more deep human connections could be made and maintained if we would all take a chance and think outside whatever box we are living in.
@Litlebritdifrnt: Wikipedia doesn’t mention this, but we were taught that antebellum African-Americans picked up the custom of “jumping the broom” from their poor-white indentured-servant neighbors & coworkers. And the Celtic hovel-trash brought that tradition over from a place and time when the (CoE) Reigning Authorities could legally forbid Catholics from marrying ‘in the church’ (their church) & there was no mechanism for civil marriage at all. People forget (powerful people have every reason to encourage us to forget) how much “Marriage” has always been about social control of property rights (including the two-legged versions of property, women & children & serfs & slaves) not so much “what God wants”.
very reverend crimson fire of compassion
@LesGS: Amen, and amen, and amen.
@Davis X. Machina:
And how is your ex-Nazi, pedophile enabling shepherd doing these days?
I always thought that calling him an ex-Nazi was unfair. I prefer to refer to him as someone who “wore a Nazi armband in his youth”.
Now, would it be unfair to point out that a staunch opponent of moral relativism was quite the practitioner of it earlier in his own life?
I was listening to BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show (not as good as the show it trades off with, The News Quiz, imo, but still quite good, much better than NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me), and apparently some Scottish Bishop in the Catholic Church is making all sorts of noises about the government’s progress toward Gay Marriage, even threatening that an impressive meteor sighting last week was a warning from God.
They then pointed out that in a 2001 letter then-Cardinal and head of the Inquisition Josef Ratzinger, now better known as The Pope, issued an order to all Roman Catholic Bishops saying that any failure to cover up child sexual abuse would be a punishable offense.
So apparently, straight from the top, they’re cool with abusing children, but recognizing – heck, merely tolerating the recognition of – the loving partnerships of adults, not so much.
I didn’t at first, but I googled it and now I remember — particularly the $400 price tag for a new (vs. $150 used) DVD of it. Sadly, two years later, I still haven’t seen it — but I will NOT let another two years go by. I’m gonna see that fucker by the end of the week, I swear.
I remember there used to be a similar price issue with Criterion DVD editions of Salo and Rebecca, which were each going for over $100 at one point. I’m guessing they’re no longer worth as much, between Blu-Ray releases and downloads. Fortunately, I got my copy of Rebecca cheap at Virgin Records on Union Square (now sadly a Whole Foods) and seeing Salo once at MoMA was … enough.
@Litlebritdifrnt: Your timeline doesn’t match theirs. You indicate we evolved from something.
They don’t believe that. Everything starts with Adam and Eve, and clearly that shows that man and woman is the only way.
Come to think of it, that just means their options were limited. Maybe that’s why Christians are always so worried people will end up fucking animals.
Sarah Proud and Tall
More than enough, I suspect. There’s only so much chocolate pudding one can watch.
Frankly, I am severely disappointed that in the 20 years since the SSM thing started (1993), Christians have been all “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” The absolute foundation of their argument is God created man, God create woman, therefore that’s natural and right. They get that from a book.
In nature, there are intersex children. There is literal, physical proof that their initial axiom is utterly false. Not one anti-gay Christian has been pressed to explain that if male and female is all there is and it is a binary thing how did there come to be intersex children? Bible’s wrong, God goofed. They need to pick. But until they can back their foundational claim, no one should take their argument seriously at all.
@Sarah Proud and Tall:
Heh. At the time, on leaving, I turned to the friend I attended with, and asked in a puzzled tone, “Why didn’t we leave?”
In retrospect, I’m glad I’ve seen it once. As obscene as it is, it does still have artistic merit.
@Warren Terra: Well of course. Abuse of the weak does nothing to contradict their unearned authority and thus is allowable. Moreover the pedos you are protecting will be very indebted.
SSM is ultimately about equality. You see right now that they are trying to put women in their place, as they see the household the way they see the government the way they see creation. There is an all powerful male running each of those domains.
A SSM creates a household of equals. They fucking HATE that idea.
Marcellus Shale, Public Dick
to be fair this one is more about ROI than market share.
if the donors and bequeathers aren’t for gay marriage, the churches have to mollify them.
@Gex: There are intersex folks, yes, more power to them, and they have taken up the good fight in not allowing others to define them or their sexual health. (Unfortunately too late for some who were mutilated as infants, although their parents and medical caregivers thought they had their best interests at heart.)
BUT those intersex folks are simply proof of the fallen nature of the world brought about by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, not a part of what God had planned before Eve tempted Adam with the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Adam and Eve, as historical persons, become highly problematic in Christian theology for those who accept the theory of evolution. Because an actual, historical person (Adam) HAS to have disobeyed a God he was in direct conversation with at a specific time. And genetic reads on all our DNA make our Adam and Eve conjunction interesting, but impossible in a Biblical sense.
And if you don’t have Original Sin, you have absolutely no purpose for Jesus to have been tortured and to have died on the cross. At least as modern Christians see this story. So you see why fundamentalist Christians will dispute the theory of evolution. It’s not about apes. It’s about Adam.
I’m here in the UK, and I can report that pretty much all of this fine nation could give a shit about gay marriage, in the best possible way.
I’m pretty sure that in most diocese the major issue is raising enough cash to keep the roof repaired every year. If you old new england home owners think you have expensive to maintain old roofs, try a 900 year old cathedral or a 250 year old slate roof. And given the state (or lack) of religiosity here, the churchs are usually stone cold broke.
In Winchester, that amazing cathedral is built in the flood plain of the Itchen River (hello fly fishermen!) and started to sink at one end in Victorian times. There is the statue of a guy in a diving helmet to celebrate the poor bastard who dove down in the muck over a decade and single handedly rebuilt the foundation. I’d say building maintenance is the driving force of the Church of England, which is why I don’t mind it at all.
However, if you have a chance see this excellent new sitcom about a modern inner city vicar called Rev. Its really good, and close to reality.
@LesGS: No. They assert AS FACT there is only a binary system. No one points out that that is utterly and obviously untrue.
I don’t give a fuck what their theology says or what their beliefs about it are or how they justify this omission. They assert something at is patently untrue, no one questions them, and they use it as a basis to legislate how I run my life.
Fuck them and the God they rode in on.
ETA: You know that they don’t have a consistent angle that includes a worldview with intersex, because all the anti-SSM laws make no specification as to who intersex can marry.