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In-depth Briefing on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

January 29, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Metropolitan His Grace, Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJV, wishes to draw the attention of all clergy and faithful to the following documents with regard to the Bill currently proposed to the UK Parliament to allow the redefinition of legal marriage to permit same-gender couples to marry in the UK.

The first is a clarification document issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport entitled (link) “Myths about Equal Marriage – setting out the truth“. The Metropolitan would draw attention to the fact that the document rather than clarifying, obfuscates its own “truth” by certain statements contained within it, namely:

“MYTH: The Government has no mandate to introduce same-sex marriage.
REALITY: The Conservative Party’s Contract for Equalities, published alongside its General Election Manifesto in 2010, set out clearly that we would consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage…”

Metropolitan’s Observation: The “myth” is technically and actually true, the proposed Bill is not seeking that civil partnerships are reclassified as marriage but that civil marriage be redefined to include same-gender couples, leaving the present provision for civil partnerships in place and unchanged. There was no declared intention/commitment and thus no mandate to seek to redefine marriage in the Conservative Party’s “Contract for Equalities” published in 2010 alongside its General Election Manifesto.

“MYTH: There is no difference between civil partnership and marriage.
REALITY: There are some small legal differences between civil partnerships and marriage. But for many people there are important differences in the perception of and responsibilities associated with these separate institutions.”

Metropolitan’s Observation: This means that despite colloquial parlance, current civil partnered citizens technically are not “spouses” and the Government is making a clear distinction between civil partnership and civil marriage.

“MYTH: Not introducing civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples is unfair.
REALITY: This is not true. We believe in the institution of marriage and we do not believe that opposite-sex couples are disadvantaged by not being able to enter into civil partnerships. This Bill is designed to remove the unfairness of same-sex couples being excluded from marriage.”

Metropolitan’s Observation: Having previously asserted there IS a difference legally between civil partnerships and civil marriage, to deny heterosexuals the option of civil partnership is clearly unfair and disadvantages them from availing themselves of an option open to others in society. This IS discriminatory.

Whilst it is clear that the State may define civil marriage (and any other civil institution), despite seeking to correct perceived inequality the proposed Bill is poorly conceived legislation and perpetuates rather than corrects discrimination and actually proposes differences between same-gender and heterosexual marriage. For example the Bill proposes there is no common law presumption as to the parenthood of any children (Schedule 4, para. 2), adultery will not be a ground for divorce (Schedule 4, para. 3) and there is no consummation requirement (Schedule 4, para. 4); all these are integral aspects of civil marriage for heterosexuals.

The Metropolitan would draw to the attention of all clergy and faithful for further analysis, a Briefing published by the (Roman) Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales [today [29/01/2013] in response to the British Government’s recently published “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill”. His Grace commends this briefing to all as a rational defence for the retention of traditional marriage within British law.

“We recognise, of course, that British law does not limit marriage to those who intend to have children; nor does it deny marriage to those who are infertile. We also recognise that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes. Nevertheless, marriage has an identity that at its core is distinct from any other legally recognised relationship, no matter how much love or commitment may be involved in these other relationships. Marriage has, over the centuries, been the enduring public recognition of this commitment to provide a stable institution for the care and protection of children, and it has rightly been recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection for this reason. Marriage furthers the common good of society because it promotes a unique relationship within which children are conceived, born and reared, an institution that we believe benefits children.”

Below you will find an in-depth briefing document that has been sent to MPs and serves as a useful explanation of the key issues relating to the “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill”.

The briefing covers the following:

You can download the full briefing in PDF by using the link below.

In-depth Briefing 144.46 kB

This link is to the Bill published on Parliament’s website Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-13

The Metropolitan would highlight the following paragraph from the Briefing that reflects the thinking of the Equality and Diversity Policy of the Province of Europe and the church in the United Kingdom.

“Catholic teaching, whilst it does not condone same sex sexual activity, condemns unfair discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We note that same sex couples already effectively enjoy equivalent legal rights as heterosexual couples by virtue of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. A Civil Partnership in essence entitles a same sex couple to equivalent legal benefits, advantages and rights as heterosexual couples. Therefore the changes proposed in the Bill are not needed in order to provide legal recognition to and protection for same sex relationships. Our opposition to same sex marriage is not based in discrimination or prejudice; it is based in a positive effort to ensure that the unique social values currently served by marriage carry on being served by that institution in the future.”

Overall, the Metropolitan suggests the Briefing provided by the (Roman) Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales adequately reflects the position of the Old Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite in Europe and commends its arguments to clergy and faithful in other dioceses of the Province of Europe for apologia in their own nation states where and when required. His Grace would draw attention again to the non-discriminatory tone and language of the document and the reflection thereby of the Province’s own regard to issues of Equality and Diversity. His Grace commends the matter at hand to the prayers of all clergy and faithful, particularly of the Archdiocese of the United Kingdom and to all who would seek an equitable and rational conclusion to the present debate concerning the meaning, nature and purpose of marriage.

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  1. January 30, 2013 at 7:12 am
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