Saturday, 3 December 2011

In which I agree with C of E on civil partnerships in church - sort of

So the Church of England have said they won't hold civil partnership ceremonies in their churches. I say good.

Now many of you who know that I am a campaigner for equal marriage may be a little shocked by opening line, but let me explain.

The consultation in England and Wales is not as complete as the one the is drawing to a close in Scotland this week. It only has one option a civil partnership to be carried out by a religious celebrant. The Scots are looking at equalising marriage, allowing religious groups to carry out same sex marriage and looking at the necessity or not of maintaining civil partnerships if that is the case, as well as looking and the England and Wales proposals. You will notice as I do that Northern Ireland hasn't got any consultation on equal marriage of any type going on or pending.

However, why do I agree with the Church of England on this? Probably not for the reason that the Bishops are in opposition but for the sheer hypocricy of the idea of civil partnerships being carried out on religious premises when a civil marriage is carried out by the same registrar at the registry office of other designated building. Of course the Government aren't proposing that civil marriage is to be carried out on religious premises that would be pointless. If people want a religious location to carry out their ceremony of commitment they want the hymns, prayers, religious lesson for marriage all interspersed within the ceremony. But with a civil partnership that cannot be the case, so it is nowhere near equal.

You see for me as an LGBT person of faith a civil partnership in a church just isn't the same as what my other friends get. Also a civil ceremony should not be in a religious setting, if you want a civil ceremony its because for whatever reason you don't want a religious element. However, there are religious groups that want to be able to carry out same sex marriage. There is religious freedom in the proposals which allow religious groups to opt-in to the ability to carry out same-sex ceremonies. Because of that the Church of England is not opposing the proposals.

I repeat.

The Church of England are NOT opposing the suggestion of civil partnerships in religious buildings, they just don't see it as something that their church will buy into.

Note before anyone criticises me for having a go at the good that Lynne Featherstone has achieved in getting this far, I'm not. On the day that she made her announcement at Lib Dem conference I did talk to her about these issues. She said she had done the best she could, seeing as the men who debated our coalition deal had forgotten to include anything in their deal about this issue and that she was aware it was far short of what the Lib Dem policy on the issue was and she'd carry on working for that to be fully implemented.