(CEN) Religion law expert: Govt assurances on same-sex marriage have no legal merit
“In order to permit same sex couples to marry the Government merely needs to repeal s11(c) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which says ‘11 Grounds on which a marriage is void; c)that the parties are not respectively male and female’.”
“However if it does repeal that sub section then those organisations and individuals which are authorised to register Marriage (which of course includes Church of England Priests by virtue of their office) would at that point be obliged to perform Same Sex marriages unless there is a specific statutory exemption,” he said.
The current state of the law, Mr. [Neil] Addison wrote on his blog was that there was no difference between “Civil” as opposed to “Religious” marriage [as] both are in law the same thing and merely take place in different premises.”
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Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm
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1. Mark Baddeley wrote:
I don’t want to be overly cynical or alarmist, but when you put this with one of Conger’s earlier reports, you get a potentially nasty outcome for churches and other religious groupings in the UK.
On the one hand the Equalities Minister has stated that the UK government will ensure that there are careful legal safeguards for religious groups with a religious based reason for opposition to same gender marriage:
Ms. Featherstone stated the government “will ensure that there is no risk of successful legal challenge against religious organisations that do not marry same-sex couples. It would not be religious organisations, but the United Kingdom Government in the dock in Strasbourg. We respect and understand the concerns of religious organisations, and we want to work closely with them to give them that reassurance.”
However, in the article Kendall has linked, the legal expert quoted has noted that the English courts have already concluded that a belief in the need for both genders to form a marriage is not core to a Christian view of marriage - which suggests it’s going to be hard to create such a protection for Christians at least (one suspects that the same courts might find that it *is* central to a Muslim view of marriage…).
Worse than that, however, is the view of the government itself about those who reject the possibility of a same gender marriage:
In response to a question from the member for St Austell and Newquay, Stephen Gilbert (LD), the minister stated the government’s proposal was “not touching religious marriage or redefining marriage. Religious people may continue to believe that marriage can be only between a man and a woman. That is not the state’s view. We do not take the Orwellian view that ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’.”
If you truly think that rejection of same gender marriage is tantamount to something out of Orwell’s Animal Farm just how likely are you really to present a robust defense of religious groups when the issue is brought to the European courts (as it most certainly will be). The UK is not the U.S., I’m very skeptical about the ability of the government to strongly fight for the right of people to engage in what the government considers to be a form of racism.
Far more likely, some kind of legal framework will be established. It will be defended poorly before the European courts and consequently annulled. The government will then expect religious groups to fall into line and accept the umpire’s decision and the outcome because ‘due process’ was carefully followed. The outcome will be held up as evidence that opposition to same gender marriage is so bigoted that even with the best will in the world, and a desire to bend over backwards, the government still couldn’t find a valid legal basis to ground the right to marry people only according to religious beliefs.
May 9, 5:10 am | [comment link]
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