Mike Weatherley MP calls for 'homophobic' churches to forfeit their right to perform marriages
His Grace is pleased (kind of) to reproduce the letter:
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP – Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
21st August 2011
RE: SAME-SEX UNIONS IN THE UK
I write as Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade; a constituency which falls entirely within Brighton & Hove, the city with the most same-sex households in the UK. Like many of my constituents, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the inequality which exists between the unions of same-sex couples and those of opposite-sex couples in this country.
As you are acutely aware, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 resulted in the introduction of Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples in December 2005. There was much debate at the time and the result was undoubtedly an uneasy truce between those wishing to preserve the religious significance of marriage and those fighting for equality. Lawmakers knew at the time that an inherent inequality would still be maintained even if greater equality was being afforded to same-sex couples.
Looking back, I am sure that you would agree that it was nothing less than bizarre that same-sex couples were barred from holding their Civil Partnership ceremonies in religious venues. After all, many religious groups welcome same-sex couples. I am glad that this was reviewed and welcome the change to the arrangement earlier this year as a logical and progressive step.
Several campaigns are currently calling for, variously, the creation of a right to a Marriage for same-sex couples and the creation of a right to a Civil Partnership for opposite-sex couples. Such proposals may seemingly be the next logical step in the campaign for equality but, if enacted, would still leave us with a messy compromise. As long as religious groups can refuse to preside over ceremonies for same-sex couples, there will be inequality. Such behaviour is not tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all.
I suggest that it makes little difference if unions are called Marriages, Civil Partnerships or some other term (such as simply ‘Unions’). Until we untangle unions and religion in this country, we will struggle to find a fair arrangement.
I thank you in advance for your views on the specific points within this letter.
MIKE WEATHERLEY MP
As it happens, His Grace agrees with Mr Weatherley on the matter of deregulating the marriage licence, and has expounded at length (and here) his reasons. But Mr Weatherley goes further - in fact, he treads the precise path of compulsion of which many warned. He writes: "Such behaviour is not tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all."
So, Mr Weatherley appears to be suggesting the imposition of 'gay marriage' upon the Church of England (not to mention the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical churches, Orthodox synagogues and mosques). Failure to comply, as the adoption agencies discovered, will result in closure. It is not easy to see what Mr Weatherley is proposing by way of punitive action against recalcitrant churches: since he can hardly enforce their closure (one presumes), the removal of the power granted by the state to perform marriages is a possible penalty.
He writes: “Until we untangle unions and religion in this country we will struggle to find a fair arrangement.”
Yes, Mr Weatherley. But what do you mean by 'fair'? And fair to whom? You clearly know nothing of the legal history of state-sanctioned marriage; nothing of the Establishment of the Church of England; and even less of Conservative philosophy and Conservative Party history. By all means, become all things to all of your constituents in Hove in order that they may be saved by the Tory creed. But please do not presume to re-arrange the entire Constitution of the United Kingdom simply in order that your local popularity may increase.