Marriage equality

There’s a Downing Street petition to get the British government to allow religious groups to perform civil partnerships (the closest Britain has to same-sex marriages) in religious buildings.

Currently civil partnerships are not permissible in religious buildings or buildings used primarily for religious purposes. Some faith groups are open to civil partnerships but are unable to perform legal partnership ceremonies under the current restrictions. This provides the churches the freedom to decide for themselves.

I find it deeply encouraging that religious organizations are calling for an expansion of same-sex marriage rights as a matter of religious freedom. (Read more in this article.)

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to allow faith groups to perform civil partnerships within their religious buildings.

If you are a British resident (religious or not), I encourage you to sign this petition.

As a side-note, I hadn’t realized until recently how many bizarre and arbitrary rules surround weddings in this country. For example, did you know that

If you are having a Civil Ceremony your choice of reading must be a non-religious one, whose use must be authorised by the Superintendent Registrar before your wedding day. (source)

I strongly suspect that rules like this (as well as the fact that we have “civil partnerships” rather than simply marriage for same-sex couples) are connected with the fact that Britain has an established church. It is a fact that continues to irk me, in this otherwise fairly enlightened nation – though some people think it’s fine and dandy. (Readers are invited to count the fallacies of reasoning in the article linked from the previous sentence.) But that’s a rant for another time.

[Correction: Cath has rightfully called me out on a point of fact in the preceding paragraph: although England has an established church, Scotland does not. I apologize for my lapse in fact-checking. I maintain that it is the strong history and tradition of Christian privilege in this country that makes daft rules like the one quoted above possible.]

I’d like to thank Maud, the minister at the local Unitarian church, for bringing this petition to my attention.

Thanks, Maud.

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3 Responses to “Marriage equality”

  1. cath Says:

    But Britain doesn't have an established church – where does that misconception come from? The relationship between church and state is different in England and Scotland (etc). I know next to nothing about Anglicanism, but the establishedness of the church in Scotland has been under debate for decades if not nearly centuries by now. Various forms of "establishment" are serious historical solutions to the problem of what relationship there should be between church and state, and deserve more thoughtful treatment than this.

  2. Timothy Mills Says:

    Cath, thankyou for calling me out on this. You are right that Britain does not have one established church. The link I provided for that claim (linked from the words "established church" in my post) was a Wikipedia article that I did not read carefully enough. Even taking that article as reliable (which, on revisiting it, I do not, since it provides no references to support its claims), one would only conclude that England and Scotland have separately established churches.I'm afraid I am here committing the same error that I have called you out on before (see our discussions of Caroline Petrie and Jeannie Cain): letting my feelings of persecution overtake my responsibility to objectively sift the facts.On looking deeper, here's what I learn. The Wikipedia article on the Church of Scotland specifically states that 'Although it is the national church, the Kirk is not a "state church", and in this, and other, regards is dissimilar to the Church of England (the established church in England).' This article is more comprehensive and well-referenced than the one I used before.Very well. I was completely wrong in suggesting that there is an established church throughout Britain. (I have also learned that neither Wales nor Ireland have established churches any more.)I still feel that Christianity enjoys certain unjust privileges even here in the enlightened north. And of course, the point of the petition remains valid regardless.But thankyou, Cath, for keeping an eye on me and not letting me get away with my casual error.

  3. Me and U « Friendly Humanist Says:

    […] readers may have noticed Unitarianism popping up occasionally – here, here, here, and here). What began (for me) as a little research into community-building – research I hope to apply […]

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