Back to the 19th century!

You have to hand it to the Catholic Church. In their obsession with upholding their antiquated doctrines, they are willing to risk becoming even more irrelevant in this modern age. Their opposition to equal rights for homosexuals is long-standing and well known. What is truly surprising are recent developments in the US where they have chosen to go to the mat in vociferously opposing contraceptive services to women, a losing battle if there ever was one.

The Catholic hierarchy in the United Kingdom are no slouches either. The UK has civil partnerships for same sex couples that apparently give them the same legal rights as those enjoyed by married couples but does not allow them to be referred to by the word ‘marriage’. Now the government is introducing legislation that would legalize same sex marriage by 2015 and this has put Catholic clergy, backed by the pope, on the warpath, although the law exempts clergy from performing same sex marriages if they don’t want to.

So this fight has now apparently become over who has the right to use the word marriage. I personally am more concerned about the rights people have rather than the symbols and labels given to those rights. My feeling is that over time, as long as civil partnerships confer the same legal rights as marriage, the distinctions between the two terms will become increasingly blurred until no one will really care. So the current fight over the symbolic use of the word marriage is itself symbolic and however it turns out, in time there will be no distinction and one or the other term will become the default for all such relationships.


  1. schmeer says

    As an escaped Catholic I read these ridiculous opinions from the Church hierarchy with glee. I love to point them out to my family so they can see how different from their church they really are.

  2. slc1 says

    It should be noted that Spain and Argentina, both heavily Catholic countries, have legalized same sex marriage.

  3. says

    I disagree. As long as one group of people are told “your relationships get this other label”, that will be a source of discrimination and derision. It’s really no different than having this water fountain labelled “Whites” and that one labelled “Coloreds”.

    What does happen when all marriages are just called “marriages”? The Catholic Church retreats, bit by bit.

  4. Tim says

    Interesting article. Astounding bigotry by the leaders of the Catholic Church in the UK. As an American, I’m not sure if the idea of tax exempt religious institutions exists in the UK, but, if it does, I’ll be curious to see how these actions by the Catholic leaders will be interpreted. Getting people to act on a specific piece of legislation is a pretty straight-forward political act.

  5. itzac says

    Tim was responding to the article Mano linked to.

    But if you want to read more on the Canadian front, check Raymond de Souza’s column from last week in the National Post.

  6. Dunc says

    One issue here is that, under the current situation, those religious organisations which actually want to marry gay members of their congregation (the Unitarians, the Quakers, some liberal synagogues, the Wiccans, and possibly a few others) are currently not allowed to do so, because religious institutions can only perform weddings, not civil unions.

  7. Kimpatsu says

    …as long as civil partnerships confer the same legal rights as marriage…
    Unfortunately, Mano, they are different classes, as the gay actor John Barrowman (who has dual US/UK citizenship) discovered when he entered into a civil partnership with his long-term partner Scott Gill (who is British). If they were MARRIED, Scott would qualify for a green card automatically, but as it’s “only” a civil partnership, he doesn’t.
    So it’s not just about words, but about how governments interpret those words.

  8. Mano Singham says

    So people who have civil partnerships in the UK don’t have the same rights when it comes to their relationship being recognized by other countries? I was not aware of that. In that case, this is a compelling reason to change the law to make marriage open to all.

    I wish they would simply do that and be done with it. It is inevitable and dragging it out does nobody any good.

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