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Interesting Links for 15-03-2012

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

Same sex marriage- so what's wrong with allowing religious organisations an opt in?

I have _no_ idea. Why you'd stop The Quakers marrying who they like is beyond me.

It is such a simple solution, but I suppose that's why no-one in Parliament has bothered with it.

I've noticed there's a strong correlation between "being on the other side of an argument to the Quakers" and "being judged harshly by later generations". So many things throughout history that they argued firmly in favour of have subsequently come to be regarded as obviously the right thing to do: the abolition of slavery, compassionate treatment of the mentally ill, prison reform, various forms of equality, universal suffrage, etc. Similarly, I believe that the next generation will look back at the current tiptoeing around marriage equality with a combination of bemusement and dismay.

I suspect that the proposed ban on religious same-sex marriage, even for those religious denominations which want to, is a ham-fisted attempt to lessen opposition and complaints from the (relatively small, but well-organised and loud) religious bigot lobby. It won't work, of course, because that's not the game that the religious bigots are playing.

The article notes that a Labour peer intends to introduce an amendment enabling the Quakers etc to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies if they wish, so hopefully that'll work out. Maybe this was the idea all along: the government score a few brownie points with the bigots (including those in their own party) by carefully delineating the terms of the bill, and then they get to say "well, we tried, but the Lords made us take that bit out, and unfortunately we had to cave in". Result: everything works out how it should, the government partly appeases some of its core voters and party members without it really costing them anything, and the bigots get disappointed, not to mention progressively marginalised as society at large drifts further away from their worldview. At least, that's what I'm hoping will happen anyway.

It's my understanding that it is actually to do with protecting the CoE from law suits (see my comment below), although I agree that lessening opposition from the religious bigot lobby was probably also on their minds.

The Quakers are lovely; I have a huge amount of respect for them. I might even be one if I wasn't pagan.

Yes, I've got a lot of time for the Quakers myself. From what I understand, although the origins of the Society of Friends are in Christianity, and while many (most?) Friends still identify as Christians, there is also a healthy tradition of non-Christian Friends as well, including Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and other religious traditions, but also Humanists, atheists and agnostics of varying degrees as well. I also happen to know someone who identifies as a pagan Quaker, and as far as I'm aware their local meeting is entirely ok with this.

You're also quite probably right about the legal aspects of the same-sex marriage ban too - I hadn't considered that side of things. But I'm sure that a solution could (and hopefully will) be found if the motivation is there.

Agree wholeheartedly, but it was my understanding that most religions (maybe all except CofE?) can't legally marry straight people, but often the religious leader has a different hat as a registrar too? I could be wrong. If you can't as, eg, a mosque legally marry straight people (without getting a civil registrar to do the marrying bit) not being able to legally marry gay people seems less bad than it originally sounds?

This used to be true in England, there had to be a Registrar present to do the legal paperwork, but I'm not sure if it is still the case for all religions other than CoE. You certainly can't have a legal pagan wedding in England.

It's not true in Scotland though - members of any religious body can apply to be licensed to marry opposite sex couples up here.

Yet another one for the pile of Inexplicable Restrictions And Regulations Relating To Marriage. In England it's impossible to have a civil wedding outdoors!

"but why the hell tell churches they can't perform ceremonies?"

This isn't the case - it's "not compulsory to perform", rather than "compulsory not to perform", and therefore is up to the religion (or to the individual congregation). It certainly used to be the case that civil marriage and civil partnerships could not take place in a religious building, a restriction left over from the original establishment of civil marriage in the early 1800s and never changed, but that was removed not long ago:

"Under our plans no church, mosque, temple, synagogue or other religious premises will be forced to hold gay marriage ceremonies. — in fact, they won’t be allowed to even if they want to. Religious marriage between a gay couple will remain illegal."

Yes - the ability of places of worship to perform civil partnership is very new and was on my mind. I really cannot see any reason why a chapel could host a civil partnership but not a civil marriage between the same two individuals though...

According to the sentence before, she thinks "Civil marriages can’t happen inside a church now”.

Which is to say, she thinks that right now, legal marriage is "banned" inside churches, therefore future legal marriages will still be banned.

(That's kind of the way it is in Canada: There's no such thing as marriage that is not civil marriage. Your religious ceremony is completely irrelevant and has no meaning. All that matters is the paperwork - and you can do the paperwork at the ceremony if you want to, but who cares? Apparently, your Home Secretary thinks there's a rule PROHIBITING you from getting real-married in a church. From her reputation, I suspect being wrong about stuff like that is normal?)

In the UK a religious marriage is also a legal marriage. A civil marriage is simply one that is carried out by a registrar rather than a religious celebrant. The two are otherwise identical.

Which sounds similar to Canada - in that you basically do the paperwork in the church after the ceremony. But it would mean that Quakers couldn't carry out weddings for gay people, which is just silly.

I must be missing something.

There's civil marriage and religious marriage, and the ONLY difference is who does the ceremony and files the paperwork?

What stops you from having a civil marriage in a church?

What stops a civil registrar from going to the church, and handing you the paperwork at the appropriate time while the religious officiant conducts his no-legal-meaning ceremony?

What stops a civil officiant from BEING a priest, or a priest from becoming a civil officiant?

(In Canada, your marriage paperwork must be signed by a registered officiant. Becoming a registered officiant is really easy. If you are a religious official and want to perform religious marriages, you register as an officiant, perform your religious ceremony, and file the paperwork, because civil marriage is the only LEGAL marriage.)

Civil marriage has to be carried out at licensed venue.

In Scotland, the marriage laws work more like Canada in practice because any 'religious' body including Humanists can become a registered celebrant and if they perform your ceremony (a 'religious' marriage by law even if they are Humanist), you can have it anywhere you please.

That sounds a lot like Canada, with the main distinction being that in Scotland all marriages, even non-religious ones, are "religious marriages", and in Canada all marriages, even the reilgious ones, are non-religious.

Well yes, except that civil marriage exists up here too, it's just there are more legal alternatives to it than there are in England.

Just back from a meeting, but I see my place was taken admirably :->

It's a pet subject of mine as you may have noticed ;) Although, I think my knowledge of the English system is a little out of date now, they appear to have brought in new legislation since I last read up on it. I'm well versed in the Scottish system though.

On top of what Andrew points out about her being correct, it's also more complicated because a civil marriage has to be carried out at a licensed venue and churches are not eligible to apply for a civil marriage license while they are still consecrated (someone may correct me but I think historical religious buildings which are no longer consecrated can).

.... so you can't get married in a park, or at a concert hall, or something?

What an odd rule.

Even leaving aside the "can't get married in a church unless it's the other completely-identical kind of marriage" thing.

Oh, well. Common law systems: Grown, not designed.

In Scotland, yes, as I say above, but in England, only if your chosen venue can get a license - quite easy for a concert hall but impossible for a public park AFAIK.

There are also strict rules about the language etc that can be used for civil ceremonies - nothing religious is allowed and as the definition of religious is left up to the Registrar, this has resulted in some people having readings mentioning souls banned and all sorts.

When we got married - in a civil ceremony at Glasgow's beautiful registry office - we couldn't play purely instrumental music from a Peter Gabriel soundtrack because it was the soundtrack for the Last Temptation of Christ. That's fine, we chose another album instead.

I understand that now the laws in Scotland have been relaxed, even the odd supermarket is registered as a wedding venue, although googling around is unable to confirm that.

What did amuse me is that it's only recently that the law was modified to allow weddings after 5pm. The previous law was written before widespread artificial lighting; the cut-off period was designed to make sure you didn't accidentally marry the wrong person.

And having now read the story more carefully, I see that for some reason the Home Office proposes a different restriction on performing civil marriage than currently exists on performing civil partnerships, which is indeed bullshit. Gah.

Indeed. Utter nonsense, and I cannot think of a good reason for the government to be telling churches that they have to be bigoted.

I entirely agree and was vociferous in my support for religious bodies being able to opt-in to same-sex marriages when I filled in the Scottish Government's equal marriage consultation


it has been pointed out to me by people more familiar with the CoE than me, that if religious equal marriage is allowed in England, the CoE could be taken to court for refusing to perform them under complex rules to do with it being a State Church, and theoretically having a duty to perform legal marriages for anyone who wants one. Which to my mind is merely yet another reason it is well past time it stopped being a State Church, but I'll grant that is a wider and more complex issue.

Or, of course, since they're legislating on this anyway, they could just make it an explicit part of the legislation that churches couldn't be forced to perform ceremonies under equality legislation.


Quite, I'm sure there are plenty of ways round it if they have the will!

Yes, but you still can't get married through a religious ceremony, which is shit.

> It's the sound of an unsatisfied woman working to satisfy the already exploding male ego.

Hur hur. I see what he did there ;)

But seriously: yes.

Why women shouldn't fake their orgasms.

Interesting post... and it seems to be aimed at women, maybe I've read it that way, with a little bit aimed at men.... but as a young woman growing up, I got the impression from males that if you didn't orgasm then there was something wrong with you, and then it becomes less about ego and more about "doing something wrong". I know that's all a load of rubbish, but its pressure and things to negotiate. I sort of wish sex education also included telling young people how the male and female orgasms can be different, (and similar) and that's okay.

Although overall I wish society would accept that people can be different, and that's ok.

Shy people take longer to get used to new people? Next you'll be telling me the shocking new discovery that water is wet.

(sorry, grumpy this morning. But as a shy person this struck me as one of those findings that reflects the bleeding obvious without adding much insight)

It didn't say that shy people take longer to get used to new people - this is much more specific than that, and can give clues as to _why_ it takes shy people longer to get used to new people. If there's something going on with lack of habituation to faces then that's very different to a deeply-rooted belief that ones opinions are not worth listening to.

"If there's something going on with lack of habituation to faces then that's very different to a deeply-rooted belief that ones opinions are not worth listening to."

That's true, I was being uncharitable. Noticing that I was grumpy should have been my cue to wait a couple of hours, not to go ahead and share said grumpiness. Sorry about that.

I think part of it for me is that my last 9 months in a completely new environment have really hammered the point home for me that even in the best of circumstances it takes me a long time to stop reacting to people as obvious threats. While I do also have problems thinking I'm not worth listening to, I've had enough variation in mood to notice that my mood has limited impact on the shyness (and it should have, if the problem was entirely self-worth) . The only thing that has obviously helped has been spending lots of time in their vicinity.

Reading the comments to the Mike Church post I got the impression that this was an internal arguement that got taken outside and that it was more about the particular individual involved than any profound structural issue.

Religious ministers who want to officiate at religious same-sex marriages being banned from doing so fucks me off so much.

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