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Jun 06 2013

Losing With Grace

It’s gg and well played to us.

The Church of England has accepted defeat in the fight to give the GLBT the same rights as straight couples. They are officially ceasing their direct support (naturally, Individual priests may still carry the fight) against anti-GLBT marriage.

The scale of the majority in both the Commons and Lords made it clear it was the will of the Parlliment. Well that’s the problem here. The Church still claims the British people are at heart “homophobes”. That we cannot give our grace to two gay people. I say  they are fucking idiots. We may have bigots. But we are more likely to laugh at them than let them rule us.

The EDL may march our streets but when I was in England the racist who yellled at me was sent packing by other people.

The English Defence League? It’s a great idea! I only wish they learnt the language before they went out and marched. Pakis can’t speak English? Well neither can the EDL! – Avicenna

Every single hateful statement aimed at me was rebutted by the people of Manchester. The same town where Lee Rigby (the man who was killed in Woolwich by Islamic Fundies) came from defended me at a time when most asians feared reprisals from the EDL. Where bigots and arseholes were going to get the “race war” they were gagging for.

In that people showed me love and allowed me to laugh at racists.

Manchester is proud of what I am and what I do and that means a lot to me.

And you are telling me that these people cannot accept two people being happy? The legalisation of Gay Marriage is not just the will of Parliament but the will of the people.

The Bishop of Leicester, who leads the bishops in the House of Lords, said they would now concentrate their efforts on “improving” rather than halting an historic redefinition of marriage. This is a dramatic change from the stance that Gay Marriage was the “Biggest threat to the CofE since the Dissestablishment during Henry the VIII and that it would undermine the cornerstone of society”. Which ranks up there with “December 2012″ in “unfounded fears”.

And yes the Church does want “Conscience Clauses” against the ruling. They want to be still be able to preach their hate but it’s the tired move of someone who has lost. They have seen which way the tide is flowing and they would rather get to be allowed to keep their hate speech up rather than have to abandon that too.

However not all is bad. Some off the things proposed are actually “sensible”.

The CofE signalled that bishops would seek to introduce a notion of adultery into the bill and extend parental rights for same-sex partners. Under the current bill people in a same-sex marriages who discover that their spouse is unfaithful to them would not be able to divorce for adultery after Government legal experts failed to agree what constitutes “sex” between gay or lesbian couples.

The bishops are also seeking to change a provision which says that when a lesbian woman in a same-sex marriage has a baby her spouse is not also classed as the baby’s parent.

The logic is that adultery is still a reason for divorce in the UK since we don’t have “No Fault Divorces”. We have a 2 year waiting period  of consensual separation. Otherwise? You need a reason. As it stands the lack of definition of adultery means that divorce among the GLBT is solely through separation. While “no fault divorce” is ideal this is something that needs sorting out. Again the idea of parenthood extending beyond simple biology is important in order to enshrine the non-contributing  partner’s role in a child’s life.

The wheel is turning and the world is changing.

Bishop Walker, who is currently the Bishop of Dudley – a junior bishop in the diocese of Worcester – attracted headlines earlier this year when he took on David Cameron over welfare cuts and accused politicians of scaremongering over immigration.

It emerged last month that Manchester Diocese, one of the biggest dioceses in the Church of England, had included a requirement to foster better links with the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities as part of its new bishop’s job description.

And I welcome this change in the Church of England. Too long has Christianity been mired by hate and too long has it forgotten it’s own “ethos” and “core message”.

The best we can do in life is to be happy. To stand in the way of other’s happiness is just sad. Life’s too short and sad enough without being sad at pointless things. And I am glad the Church of England thinks so too.

3 comments

  1. 1
    TGAP Dad

    Are there no civil marriages in the UK? Here in the US, I was married in a civil ceremony officiated by the mayor of the city where the wedding was held. Your post seems to imply that the COE dictates marriage and divorce policy.

  2. 2
    David Hart

    Yes, we currently have same sex unions that are called Civil Partnerships. The laws that apply to them are almost identical to those that apply to marriages (apart from a few little details, like the ‘adultery’ provisions in the blogpost*) – so the push to have same-sex marriage is not so much a push for gay people’s legal rights, more a push for their official recognition as equal citizens, since the rights remain the same, but the name of the institution will be the same name that opposite sex unions have.

    And the C of E still has official seats in the House of Lords (our appointed, unelected upper legislative chamber that technically no longer has a veto on any legislation, but does have the power to delay new laws) – so to that extent, the C of E could make things a bit less smooth for the same-sex marriage legislation.

    *I’m only familiar with Scottish divorce legislation, I presume the English laws are broadly similar, but in Scotland, you need only prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably in order to get a divorce – and if you can prove adultery (which is difficult if the other person isn’t cooperating) then you get it automatically, but if you can show that the other person’s behaviour is such that you couldn’t reasonably be expected to remain married to them (which would include if they were sleeping with other people) , then that will also work, so ‘adultery’ per se is rarely used anyway, and thus it is only a very minor detail that it isn’t in the law of civil partnerships either.

  3. 3
    AsqJames

    @TGAP Dad,

    The CofE does not “dictate marriage and divorce policy”, but due to being an established church it’s a typically British muddle. A small number of CofE Bishops sit in the House of Lords and can therefore speak, and vote, on any piece of legislation. So they definitely have influence on policy, but not all that much.

    You can have a civil ceremony in the UK though (performed by a registrar), or a catholic/jewish/muslim/hindu/sikh/etc ceremony – there’s a defined list of approved religions I think. I think at one time (it may still be the case?) a parish priest had to marry any couple where at least one of them had lived in the parish for a certain period. It’s the establishment thing you see – it’s the state church, you’re a subject of the state, therefore you’re a member of the church.

    I have to admit that, in a weird way, the arrangement has advantages. Just as the state has to at least pretend to have the interests of all its citizens/subjects in mind, so does the church. They can’t get too far away from popular opinion without risking their official status, but they do act as something of a drag on change. A kind of sea anchor if you like. I know this retards progress, but I sometimes wonder whether it means we avoid too much change too quickly.

    @Avi,

    The logic is that adultery is still a reason for divorce in the UK since we don’t have “No Fault Divorces”. We have a 2 year waiting period of consensual separation. Otherwise? You need a reason. As it stands the lack of definition of adultery means that divorce among the GLBT is solely through separation.

    I’ve heard this argument a few times, but I don’t think there’s much in it. “Separation” and “adultery” are not the only two ways to get a divorce. You can also cite “unreasonable behaviour” for one. Unreasonable behaviour can be anything your spouse does which you find so unreasonable you decide you can’t live with them anymore. If you find it unreasonable for your partner to have special cuddles with someone else, the exact nature of those cuddles (or indeed the cuddles your were sharing before you found out about the extra-curriculars) is immaterial.

    In fact “unreasonable behaviour” is so broad it can encompass everything from domestic violence, through alcohol or drug abuse, to leaving the toilet seat up and refusing to put the cap back on the toothpaste!

    So same-sex divorce will not be “solely through separation.”

    In fact I don’t see why adultery is even a separate category. Some couples are fine with one or both partners occasionally getting their jollies elsewhere, It should only be grounds for divorce if one side considers it…unreasonable.

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