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Source: (consider it) Thread: ...an attempt to redefine marriage [civil partnerships]
tomsk
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Civil partnerships already create a duplicate version of marriage. I think I'm correct in saying that the main differences are the name, the statutory framework and religious celebration. The name is clearly considered unsuitable as it's not 'marriage' and the law is to be changed accordingly.

I think civil partnerships could be renamed gay marriages. It would remove a lot of the semantic distinction, but maintain a legal distinction. It would put the two on an equal footing (I think that in law they largely are anyway) but would not make them the same thing.

I think the main objection to that is that justice and equal rights require that the two become the same. I just think, on the basis of a Christian understanding of what marriage is, that a legal distinction should remain in order to keep straight marriage as a distinctive legal relationship. I don't think it would unnecessarily complicated to do so. After all, the law isn't being altered to avoid complication.

I think that in not allowing religious precepts to sound in law simply by virtue of their religious origins we may end up discounting religiously-based values simply because of their origin. Values all come from somewhere.

I think the term 'civil partnership' was coined to make semantic and legal distinction from marriage. I wondered if 'civil partnership' was intended as a term to snub gay people, but I actually wonder it was simply some committee-type newspeak trying to modernise the concept of marriage by using a name that did not carry all the baggage of antiquated superstition, patriarchy, oppression of wimmin etc.

'The law should not be used to privilege any one political or economic position.'

It's not that it's not sensible, I think it's not what happens. Political parties are elected. They advance their own agenda. Flavours of the month are privileged.

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orfeo

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Two issues, tomsk.

1. A straight marriage doesn't require a religious celebration. It might happen to have one, but it's not a requirement in the law.

2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I think civil partnerships could be renamed gay marriages. It would remove a lot of the semantic distinction, but maintain a legal distinction. It would put the two on an equal footing (I think that in law they largely are anyway) but would not make them the same thing.

Why would this be necessary? In what way would it be preferable to have two identical statuses, called "gay marriage" and "straight marriage", rather than one that was called - ooh, I don't know - "marriage"? I doubt there's likely to be any confusion about which applies in any given case, so why the need to maintain the "separate but equal" charade?

And BTW, there are several key distinctions in law between marriage and civil partnership, and there are many people who would prefer to be married rather than "partnered" for various reasons, so your casual assumption that they're basically the same so it doesn't really matter is inaccurate and irrelevant.

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tomsk
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Orfeo said: 1. A straight marriage doesn't require a religious celebration. It might happen to have one, but it's not a requirement in the law.

True, what I meant is that there (currently) are more restrictions on religious celebrations of CP's than marriages. The religious bolt-ons to CP's aren't yet there in the way that they are for marriage. I wasn't making a point that religious celebration is necessary for marriage just that legal marriage can be co-terminus with religious marriage in a way that does not yet happen with CP's.

'2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?"

I'd qualify that with 'straight marriage'. Basically, because it is the best form of relationship structure available to a man and a woman, and that a secular framing of its Christian purposes (child-rearing, keeping the 'natural instincts' contained within the marriage, and mutual comfort) are ones that are of value to all, not just Christians. It's uniqueness is worth preserving (in saying that I'm not saying straight couples are superior to gay ones). I haven't really worked out why and am thinking about it.

Why bother distinguishing? We identify as gay or straight, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over in the legal definitions of marriages.

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The Great Gumby

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
'2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?"

I'd qualify that with 'straight marriage'. Basically, because it is the best form of relationship structure available to a man and a woman, and that a secular framing of its Christian purposes (child-rearing, keeping the 'natural instincts' contained within the marriage, and mutual comfort) are ones that are of value to all, not just Christians. It's uniqueness is worth preserving (in saying that I'm not saying straight couples are superior to gay ones). I haven't really worked out why and am thinking about it.

Do you think gay marriage is the best form of relationship structure available to two people of the same sex?
quote:
Why bother distinguishing? We identify as gay or straight, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over in the legal definitions of marriages.
There's also no reason to do so, unless you want to keep the out-group separate for reasons of taint or discrimination.

A thought experiment: Let's say legislation is introduced in some mythical country to ensure that everyone had the same right to take out (for the sake of argument) a mortgage. Let's also say that those mortgages are to be understood and defined according to the race of the borrower. So you have Black Mortgages, White Mortgages, and so on. After all, we identify as black, white or whatever, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over. Would you be comfortable with that?

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Net Spinster
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:

'2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?"

I'd qualify that with 'straight marriage'. Basically, because it is the best form of relationship structure available to a man and a woman, and that a secular framing of its Christian purposes (child-rearing, keeping the 'natural instincts' contained within the marriage, and mutual comfort) are ones that are of value to all, not just Christians. It's uniqueness is worth preserving (in saying that I'm not saying straight couples are superior to gay ones). I haven't really worked out why and am thinking about it.

Why bother distinguishing? We identify as gay or straight, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over in the legal definitions of marriages.

However some couples of the same-sex do raise children and some opposite sex couples do not (or raise children that are not biologically children of both partners just as same-sex couples do). Same-sex couples are also looking for mutual comfort and some have a theological understanding that values monogamy (except their understanding allows two people of the same sex to be monogamous). Note also that same sex/opposite sex is not a black white divide. How would you label marriages when one (or both) are transgender or intersex?

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I think civil partnerships could be renamed gay marriages. It would remove a lot of the semantic distinction, but maintain a legal distinction. It would put the two on an equal footing (I think that in law they largely are anyway) but would not make them the same thing.

I think the main objection to that is that justice and equal rights require that the two become the same. I just think, on the basis of a Christian understanding of what marriage is, that a legal distinction should remain in order to keep straight marriage as a distinctive legal relationship. I don't think it would unnecessarily complicated to do so. After all, the law isn't being altered to avoid complication.

Just out of curiosity, how exactly does the UK government treat civil partnerships differently than marriages? In other words, if civil partnerships are "legally distinct", how does the law treat them differently? And if there's no difference in the way civil unions are treated, in what sense are they "legally distinct" from marriage, other than pure semantics?

quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
'2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?"

I'd qualify that with 'straight marriage'. Basically, because it is the best form of relationship structure available to a man and a woman, and that a secular framing of its Christian purposes (child-rearing, keeping the 'natural instincts' contained within the marriage, and mutual comfort) are ones that are of value to all, not just Christians. It's uniqueness is worth preserving (in saying that I'm not saying straight couples are superior to gay ones). I haven't really worked out why and am thinking about it.
It seems remarkably arrogant to describe raising children, monogamy, and mutual comfort as something only Christians do in marriage. Or that Christians invented these things.

Also, is straight marriage still "the best form of relationship structure available to a man and a woman" if one or both of them is gay?

quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Why bother distinguishing? We identify as gay or straight, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over in the legal definitions of marriages.

We identify as a lot of things (denomination, race, handedness, etc.) but we only seem to 'need' to set up new legal categories for gays.

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Pre-cambrian
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I think the term 'civil partnership' was coined to make semantic and legal distinction from marriage. I wondered if 'civil partnership' was intended as a term to snub gay people, but I actually wonder it was simply some committee-type newspeak trying to modernise the concept of marriage by using a name that did not carry all the baggage of antiquated superstition, patriarchy, oppression of wimmin etc.

You are right that the term was coined for semantic purposes, but why do you then follow it up with an unsupported dig at liberals, a sort of tarring with the "Political Correctness Gone Mad" brush? The far more likely explanation was that it was coined to satisfy those religious types who were foaming at the mouth at the idea that the word marriage could be applied to homosexualists. And who still are.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Why bother distinguishing? We identify as gay or straight, so it's not as if there's no basis at all for carrying this over in the legal definitions of marriages.

Most people identify as either male or female. Does that mean the law should distinguish between men and women? Or if we identify as belonging to different races, should the law therefore go on to use racial distinctions?

The main purpose of me identifying as gay is either because someone is asking me out (a couple of girls I wish I could have let down more easily before I came out of the closet...) or because I want to ask someone out. In the rest of my life, it really shouldn't have any bearing on how the law treats me. Not unless there's some rational reason for treating me differently in practice.

As far as marriage goes, the law currently does nothing to assess the suitability of a person's choice of partner beyond (1) checking you're not already partnered to someone else and (2) slotting you into one of two streams depending on whether the gender of your partner matches your own. There's no longer any rational reason why the law should take an interest in the gender question. No different treatment in practice ends up flowing from it.

I spend a considerable part of my working life telling people not to define terms or create categories and then do nothing with them. If the same rule applies to two categories, then just make one larger category. Don't waste space on the page writing everything twice.

It would actually be perfectly possible to write a gender-neutral marriage rule that had a single gender-specific case, on how a marriage ceremony is performed, that said only an opposite-sex marriage could be performed in a religious ceremony. Why the law would bother explicitly ruling religious ceremonies out, rather than letting religions decide the question for themselves, I don't know, but I'd take a small irrationality over the much larger one that results from having to write "marriage or civil partnership" in a thousand other laws.

And that's the thing. You have to constantly remember to add 'or civil partnership' to anything to keep maintaing equality. You have to keep checking that yes, we're treating married people and civilly partnered people in the same way, just as we always planned. If we forget to mention both categories, suddenly we will have slipped back into differential treatment.

Is there seriously likely to be any case where differential treatment will be intended?

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
.... I haven't really worked out why ....

Worry not, it's clear to the rest of us. OliviaG
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Pre-cambrian
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
I spend a considerable part of my working life telling people not to define terms or create categories and then do nothing with them. If the same rule applies to two categories, then just make one larger category. Don't waste space on the page writing everything twice.

And in the UK at least, a consequence of EU principles of law is that purposive interpretation of legislation has gained a foothold in the courts which it didn't previously have. So if two categories have been created there must have been a reason for it and they can be potentially used to hang differentials from.

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tomsk
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Crumbs. I'll try and reply to these.

Pre-C said 'You are right that the term was coined for semantic purposes, but why do you then follow it up with an unsupported dig at liberals, a sort of tarring with the "Political Correctness Gone Mad" brush? The far more likely explanation was that it was coined to satisfy those religious types who were foaming at the mouth at the idea that the word marriage could be applied to homosexualists. And who still are.'

I wasn't being serious. You're correct; the term was invented to make clear that CP's weren't marriage.

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tomsk
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Sorry for DP. meant to add

But while some are fighting for the right to marry, others think that it is an obsolete right. Perhaps a bit like some have's and have not's with the vote.

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tomsk
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TGG said: Do you think gay marriage is the best form of relationship structure available to two people of the same sex?

Yes, well, it will be when it exists (in whatever form).

The ideal purposes of marriage are the same for Christians, non-Christians, gay or straight. Neither am I saying Christian invented it. What I mean is that there is a theology of marriage which is (or was) congruent with marriage in wider society.

TGG also said 'And BTW, there are several key distinctions in law between marriage and civil partnership, and there are many people who would prefer to be married rather than "partnered" for various reasons, so your casual assumption that they're basically the same so it doesn't really matter is inaccurate and irrelevant.'

What are the legal differences in terms of rights vis-a-vis the partner/spouse and wider society? I understood the essential difference was that one is called marriage and the other is not.

I think it's putting it to highly to say CP's are irrelevant, although they might not go far enough. The current distinction obviously matters but is principally symbolic (not that that's not significant) rather than in terms of legal rights. I do stand to be corrected though.

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tomsk
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TGG, I think your thought experiment really boils down to justification of practical discrimination (let's leave discrimination in the mind). Discrimination happens all the time. Men and women are separated on grounds of gender. A Christian couple were unsuitable foster parents because of their views on homosexuality. Adoption placements were hitherto with families of the same ethnicity (this is changing but I think it's to increase adoption rates rather than because it is unjustified discrimination). These all involve practical discrimination of a sort, the question is whether it can be justified.

I concede that not many will have much truck with what I am advocating. It preserves an element of discrimination (symbolic rather than practical) which most supporters of gay marriage will consider unjustified. Most opponents won't much go for it either.

If, as some on here are saying, the cause of non-discrimination between gay and straight couples is unanswerable and that any discrimination is unjustified, it must follow that religious groups' marriage provision should not be allowed (at least of legally-recognise marriage).

Otherwise, discrimination of provision (if not status) is perpetuated (same as adoption agencies not being able discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation).

A way of ending this would be to separate religious marriage ceremonies from legal marriage (as is the case in France). I'm not trying to be hysterical and 'where will it all end, howl', but if distinguishing gay and straight marriage is purely to 'taint' the other and unacceptable, then surely so is privileging discriminatory religious marriage in law?

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tomsk
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Orfeo - on a practical point, something like an interpretation Act provision stating that references to marriage include civil partnerships would avoid accidental divergence.

It's not easy to articulate why a distinction which has little practical use should be kept. Many people do think a distinction should be kept however.

I suspect it would really only enable people to 'think' that marriage was for man and wife, and that there would remain some legal meaning to this. A contrasting analogy is the idea of common law spouse, which people think exists but doesn't.

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John Holding

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Tomsk's sincere comments have brought me to note that all this agonizing in the UK (primarily, at least on this thread) and the US totally ignores what has happened and is happening in other countries.

To those of you in the UK: Canada (and several other countries) have opened marriage to same-sex couples on the same basis as to opposite-sex couples for several years. Thousands and thousands of same-sex marriages have taken place (a large proportion of which are the marriages of couples who have been living together for many years if not decades).

And nothing else has happened. There has been no disaster. Marriage has been redefined and no one has noticed. Marriages (of both kinds of couples) which were already to take place outside a house of worship, have continued to do so. WHere a marriage (of either kind of couple) is able to take place inside a place of worship -- and this is strictly up to the place of worship -- it continues to do so.

If the UK were the first place to have to deal with this, then much of what has been said on this thread would make sense. But it's not. And it doesn't. It is actually allowed to look outside the borders of the UK to see what has happened in places where marriage is now open to same-sex. You can actually look at what other people and countries have done.

Guys, the wheel has already been invented -- you don't have to do it again. You don't have to agonize over the impact of this round thing on the inherent moral superiority of the runner, or on what will happen if we change the age-old definition of "wagon" so it includes wagons with wheels as well as wagons with runners.

John

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tomsk
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Olivia G said 'Worry not, it's clear to the rest of us. OliviaG'

I may be off the mark here, but I think the trouble with treating unifying gay and straight marriage as a Shibboleth is that everyone who disagrees with it becomes a redneck gay-hater (or who supports it is out to destroy all that is good).

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I concede that not many will have much truck with what I am advocating. It preserves an element of discrimination (symbolic rather than practical) which most supporters of gay marriage will consider unjustified.

quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
It's not easy to articulate why a distinction which has little practical use should be kept. Many people do think a distinction should be kept however.

quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Olivia G said 'Worry not, it's clear to the rest of us. OliviaG'

I may be off the mark here, but I think the trouble with treating unifying gay and straight marriage as a Shibboleth is that everyone who disagrees with it becomes a redneck gay-hater (or who supports it is out to destroy all that is good).

I'd say that part of the problem is that you're advocating that the state engage in what you admit is discrimination for no reason you feel comfortable articulating in public. If you want the government to discriminate against certain of its citizen I, for one, would hope you had a clear reason for advocating disparate treatment.

I note you haven't answered my question on how two things which are supposedly identical under the law are "legally distinct".

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ToujoursDan

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Olivia G said 'Worry not, it's clear to the rest of us. OliviaG'

I may be off the mark here, but I think the trouble with treating unifying gay and straight marriage as a Shibboleth is that everyone who disagrees with it becomes a redneck gay-hater (or who supports it is out to destroy all that is good).

Those who support it are supporting privilege for no reason other than they want to be privileged. It's a bit like those who may not have personally hated blacks but preferred that they attend separate schools, used separate facilities and live in certain parts of town.

It was only in retrospect did we see how completely absurd U.S. segregation and South African apartheid were.

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I think civil partnerships could be renamed gay marriages.

I'm sure lesbians will be just thrilled. Why not Theban and Sapphic marriages? [Razz]

quote:
... Discrimination happens all the time. Men and women are separated on grounds of gender. A Christian couple were unsuitable foster parents because of their views on homosexuality. Adoption placements were hitherto with families of the same ethnicity (this is changing but I think it's to increase adoption rates rather than because it is unjustified discrimination). These all involve practical discrimination of a sort, the question is whether it can be justified.
You're conflating a number of issues, which makes me suspect you haven't worked those out either. Adoption is meant to serve the best interest of the child, not the wishes of foster or adoptive parents. White English children are in no danger of losing their language, culture or identity, but others are not in the same position. It's like the old joke about the law being the same for rich and poor in that neither can sleep under a bridge. Discrimination can be justified when "equal" treatment yields unfair outcomes.

quote:
If, as some on here are saying, the cause of non-discrimination between gay and straight couples is unanswerable and that any discrimination is unjustified, it must follow that religious groups' marriage provision should not be allowed (at least of legally-recognise marriage). ...
Religious groups have always been the arbiters of their own religious services, which is why my hypothetical request for a Jewish or Orthodox wedding would be always turned down. Assuming you are in the UK, the problem you have to deal with is that the Anglican church (unlike every other church / temple / whatever) in the country is supposed to be everybody's church. AIUI, any resident of a parish is entitled to Anglican baptism, marriage, and burial.
quote:

I may be off the mark here, but I think the trouble with treating unifying gay and straight marriage as a Shibboleth is that everyone who disagrees with it becomes a redneck gay-hater ....

Well, then, if you don't want people to think that, you'll need something better than "It's not easy to articulate why a distinction which has little practical use should be kept" or "I think that in not allowing religious precepts to sound in law simply by virtue of their religious origins we may end up discounting religiously-based values simply because of their origin." OliviaG

ETA: And what John Holding said. I went to a "gay" wedding. We did not get struck by lightning. The couple are still happily married.

[ 14. March 2012, 21:06: Message edited by: OliviaG ]

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
TGG, I think your thought experiment really boils down to justification of practical discrimination (let's leave discrimination in the mind). Discrimination happens all the time. Men and women are separated on grounds of gender. A Christian couple were unsuitable foster parents because of their views on homosexuality. Adoption placements were hitherto with families of the same ethnicity (this is changing but I think it's to increase adoption rates rather than because it is unjustified discrimination). These all involve practical discrimination of a sort, the question is whether it can be justified.

I concede that not many will have much truck with what I am advocating. It preserves an element of discrimination (symbolic rather than practical) which most supporters of gay marriage will consider unjustified. Most opponents won't much go for it either.

If, as some on here are saying, the cause of non-discrimination between gay and straight couples is unanswerable and that any discrimination is unjustified, it must follow that religious groups' marriage provision should not be allowed (at least of legally-recognise marriage).

Otherwise, discrimination of provision (if not status) is perpetuated (same as adoption agencies not being able discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation).

A way of ending this would be to separate religious marriage ceremonies from legal marriage (as is the case in France). I'm not trying to be hysterical and 'where will it all end, howl', but if distinguishing gay and straight marriage is purely to 'taint' the other and unacceptable, then surely so is privileging discriminatory religious marriage in law?

Hi tomsk,

You've wandered into the topic of my Laws Honours thesis... [Big Grin]

You're absolutely right that discrimination happens all the time. The word has developed a particular negative connotation, but really it's about choices. And choices and distinctions get made all the time.

The question boils down to why the choice is made. Is the point of distinction RELEVANT or not? And anti-discrimination laws are really about the law declaring that certain distinctions aren't relevant and mustn't be used. For example, when offering a hotel room, you mustn't take into account the race of the person who wants the hotel room. Whereas taking into accont a person's capacity to pay for the room is fine, as is whether their behaviour indicates a risk they will trash the room.

Men and women are separated by gender, but this should only happen when there's a relevant difference. For instance, they're separated in sports because the different physical characteristics of men and women. Men are on average taller and have more muscle mass. That justifies different treatment in some cases. But it doesn't in others. The muscle mass has no relevance in a whole raft of other cases, though.

The fundamental difficulty with separating straight marriage from gay civil partnership is the lack of a relevant difference, one that the law should care about. The only difference I can ever come up with is a religious moral judgement, one that the law otherwise REJECTS. Consciously and deliberately, the law no longer offers different treatment between heterosexuals and homosexuals in any other area, and has gone out of its way to say 'we used to differentiate between you on moral grounds, but we don't any more'.

And yet, when it comes to marriage vows, the law suddenly pays attention to a religious moral distinction that it otherwise makes a point of ignoring.

You are right that in some way, any kind of acknowledgement of religious marriage involves an element of acceptance of the 'biased' policies of religious groups. But I think it really only becomes a problem if religious groups are not otherwise allowed to make decisions about who they marry and who they don't. You may run into a particular problem in the UK just because, if I understand correctly, the Anglican church is in the unusual position of being obliged to perform the service of marriage for people who ask for it. A sort of universal service provider.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
I suspect it would really only enable people to 'think' that marriage was for man and wife, and that there would remain some legal meaning to this. A contrasting analogy is the idea of common law spouse, which people think exists but doesn't.

Common law marriages certainly do exist, just not in the UK.

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tomsk
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I think you're correct Orfeo. I buy into the biblical religious concept of straight marriage and think that preserving that outweighs the wish to equal status. This discussion makes me the more confirmed that there will be a single definition of marriage and that people (quite a lot) who don't like it will have to lump it. Equal treatment has been a strong driver behind UK law for some years now and anything else would be very inconsistent with that. Even a purely semantic distinction arising from differing legal definitions won't do. Anything short of full equality would be a grubby compromise satisfying v. few.

In the UK, 'objections of conscience' to gay equality legislation have received short shrift in law. I anticipate more conflict along these lines. What will be interesting is the extent to which attitudes follow the law and how quickly. If objecting to gay marriage is the same as advocating racial segregation, then it can't carry on in the church indefinitely.

Olivia G, Croesos; when in a hole one should stop digging. In my defence (or perhaps not) I have been with men and women in my life and don't think I'm a 'LOWERED preeeserve us from the gays' type. See you.

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Dafyd
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An attempt to reframe the question:

Imagine for a moment a young couple, a man and a woman, getting married. There's an older couple at church who've been happily married for over thirty years. Would it make sense for the young couple to look at that older couple and say to themselves we are inspired by their relationship; we want to learn how to be happily married, to learn how to spend our lives together, by observing and learning from them?

Now imagine that either couple is same-sex. Would it still make sense to say that? If it would make sense it makes little sense to say that the same-sex relationship cannot be called a marriage.

Someone who thinks it cannot count as a marriage would have to say that either the fact that the two participants aren't of different sexes or the fact that they can't have children renders the relationships sufficiently different that beyond a certain point one is no longer a good model for the other. It's not obvious that either holds true. To say that the difference in sex makes a difference would rely on an essentialist view of the relationship between sex and character that would be rejected by anyone who wasn't a complementarian. To say that the inability to have children is decisive would have awkward implications for what one says about a marriage between a man and a woman who haven't been able to have children.
It doesn't seem that a different-sex couple couldn't learn from a same-sex couple, or vice versa; if so, then the two relationships ought really to be regarded as instances of the same kind.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Even a purely semantic distinction arising from differing legal definitions won't do.

Once again, if there's a difference in how the state treats the couples in question, the difference isn't purely semantic. If there's no difference, then the legal definitions don't differ.

quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
[QB]In the UK, 'objections of conscience' to gay equality legislation have received short shrift in law.
I anticipate more conflict along these lines. What will be interesting is the extent to which attitudes follow the law and how quickly. If objecting to gay marriage is the same as advocating racial segregation, then it can't carry on in the church indefinitely.
I'm not so sure about that. As has been pointed out repeatedly in this thread, there's already a well known example of 'objections of conscience' regarding marriage in the Roman Catholic attitude towards divorce and remarriage. The only difference is in regards to the Church of England, but that's more a question of establishment (i.e. how far can people acting on behalf of the state go to undermine its laws when doing their state-sanctioned job) than of same-sex marriage generally.

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Pre-cambrian
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
You may run into a particular problem in the UK just because, if I understand correctly, the Anglican church is in the unusual position of being obliged to perform the service of marriage for people who ask for it. A sort of universal service provider.

But it is worth pointing out that the CofE for a long time had a very ambivalent view towards marrying divorcees, which was at odds with what the State accepted. Even then the State did not override the CofE's view of who it could marry, despite the general obligation to provide for marriage of those in the parish. It is often commented that the RCC has never been forced to marry divorcees. In the UK scenario it is even more relevant that the CofE has never been forced to marry divorcees, despite being the established church.

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Pre-cambrian
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Just to acknowledge that I have fallen into the common trap regarding the UK. Questions to do with the establishment of the Church of England apply only to England, not to any other parts of the UK (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
Eliab said: 'Who else is affected? At the moment there are three classes of people that I can see who can be bothered to say that legally recognised same-sex unions are "not really marriage": these are homophobes, principled objectors, and legal pedants. But after the change, the homophobes and the principled objectors can carry on saying it. It is only the legal pedants whose grounds for doing so has been cut away: the others never did base their objection on law.'

I was taking the piss out of myself. Lawyers (I am one) have the annoying habit of behaving as if the technical legal definition of a word was the only real one, and 'correcting' people who use use the same word in a colloquial sense. “No, you weren't 'robbed', you were defrauded”, “It isn't an 'innuendo', it's an implied meaning”, “You aren't 'married', that's your civil partner”.

It makes us look like twats, but, to be fair, we mostly are.

Once we start legally applying the ordinary English word 'marriage' to what are called 'civil partnerships' in law, as, of course, polite people generally already do colloquially, there will be one less opportunity for this sort of twatery.

I was (ironically) suggesting that my rights have therefore been infringed by changing what word the law uses to refer to other people's family members – the serious point being that there is actually damn all cost or inconvenience to anyone in letting people use ordinary language to describe their relationships.

quote:
Are you saying the change is of limited significance? I don't think it is. Surely the whole society is affected?
In that society as a whole declares itself to be a little more polite, respectful, tolerant and fair, yes, I agree.

Actual harm or inconvenience to anyone? None at all.

quote:
I'm fairly liberal generally. In this case I do think that heterosexual marriage is a good thing and should be upheld in law. I think that part of that should be keeping it distinctive.
That's not an argument – it's a blatant request for preferential treatment.

It's about as compelling a viewpoint as my four year old proposing that she should have all the biscuits “Because I'm a girl”.

No. Share the fucking biscuits.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:
In the UK, 'objections of conscience' to gay equality legislation have received short shrift in law.

Yep. The same way that 'objections of conscience' to race equality legislation have received short shrift in law.

quote:
If objecting to gay marriage is the same as advocating racial segregation, then it can't carry on in the church indefinitely.
It is. It can't.

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by tomsk:


I think civil partnerships could be renamed gay marriages. It would remove a lot of the semantic distinction, but maintain a legal distinction. It would put the two on an equal footing (I think that in law they largely are anyway) but would not make them the same thing.

....
I think the term 'civil partnership' was coined to make semantic and legal distinction from marriage. I wondered if 'civil partnership' was intended as a term to snub gay people, but I actually wonder it was simply some committee-type newspeak trying to modernise the concept of marriage by using a name that did not carry all the baggage of antiquated superstition, patriarchy, oppression of wimmin etc.


[/QB]

How about this; Heterosexuals and Homosexuals can get married.. just plain marriage.
Heterosexuals who want a distinctive relationship that differs from that of homosexuals can get a "canonical partnership" provide their church agrees. They'd have to stop using the term marriage for what goes on in their church, but hey, they're the ones claiming equivalent terms are fine.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
How about this; Heterosexuals and Homosexuals can get married.. just plain marriage.
Heterosexuals who want a distinctive relationship that differs from that of homosexuals can get a "canonical partnership" provide their church agrees. They'd have to stop using the term marriage for what goes on in their church, but hey, they're the ones claiming equivalent terms are fine.

Good idea - and they have to give video evidence that all sex is penis-vagina and prove they never took contraception or they'll be deemed ilictly married and struck off the canonical register.

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Soror Magna
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She’s a Sens fan, her girlfriend’s a Leafs fan and their marriage proposal during NHL game was adorable (VIDEO)


Oh look, the world didn't end. [Axe murder] OliviaG

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Louise
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Returning to the discussion about civil partnerships - these posts are copied over from this closed thread

quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
Let's tread carefully to avoid that dead horse lying in the middle of the road. I don't want to debate the rights or wrongs of gay marriage, but I genuinely don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Same sex couples can enter into civil partnerships which have the same legal and social standing as marriage but barely is the ink dry on that legislatiion and there's a huge debate about whether gay couples should be entitled to marry.

Am I missing something or is it really only a question of
terminology?

quote:
Originally posted by no_prophet:
It's merely about equality. The idea of civil partnership differentiates it from marriage. While this sounds acceptable because it gives the same rights and responsibilities, it is very clear to me that the idea offends many gay people. Equality is is not to be different it seems.

The angle I wonder about is how is it that some democracies seem to be tyrannical about the imposition of a majority viewpoint and idea against it, while not protecting the rights of the minority. If a country purports to respect freedom, then it cannot reduce the basic rights of individuals except when there is clear harm to someone, and usually this needs to be someone else (it seems we are free more or less, to harm ourselves, as a mentally ill aunt demonstrated in Canada, and a distant cousin in the USA).

Freedom in a democracy means freedom to choose for oneself, unless this is demonstrably harmful to someone else. This is an area of basic human rights where the majority cannot rule and must be restrained, because of its offence against the minority rights. Such should be unconstitutional in whatever country, and perhaps is if properly tested in law courts (though courts are an awful way to establish rights aren't they?).

I am not claiming anything 'holier than thou' on this, Canada merely being further down the trail on this, we have many of the same attitudes expressed re marriage vs civil partnership still despite it being fait accompli here.

quote:
Originally posted by art dunce:
We moved away from seperate but equal. You cannot create a different class of union for some citizens while retaining marriage for a priviedged class of citizens.



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orfeo

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To add to the new posts: I'm sure I've said it before, but "separate but equal" offends me as both a gay man and a legislative drafter.

The only purpose to "separate but officially equal" in this case is to perpetuate "unofficially not equal for those of you uncomfortable with equality".

Because discomfort seems to be the only reason. I've not yet encountered any argument that doesn't boil down to an inability to imagine that a homosexual couple looks and behaves remarkably like a heterosexual one that can't conceive a child naturally.

(Come to think of it, there's a neat storyline at the moment in the Australian TV show Offspring where a straight couple can't conceive and has asked the gay brother/brother-in-law to be a sperm donor. The gay brother has started dating someone. If they ever turned it around so that the gay couple was asking the straight woman to be a surrogate, the reactions would be fascinating.)

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Gracious rebel

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:

(Come to think of it, there's a neat storyline at the moment in the Australian TV show Offspring where a straight couple can't conceive and has asked the gay brother/brother-in-law to be a sperm donor. The gay brother has started dating someone. If they ever turned it around so that the gay couple was asking the straight woman to be a surrogate, the reactions would be fascinating.)

This reminds me of a novel I've just read 'Sing you Home' by Jodi Picoult. I found it raised fascinating issues.

Basic storyline: straight couple with fertility problems going through IVF includes having some embryos frozen. Woman loses a baby late in pregnancy and receives diagnosis that future pregnancies would be highly risky, she still determined to have a child at all costs but husband has had enough, leaves her and turns to drink. Woman then starts a same sex relationship with a colleague whilst man converts to evangelical Christianity via his brother who belongs to a mega church, and who also (with his own wife) faces fertility problems. Gay couple get married and want kids, remember frozen embryos, but need ex husbands permission to use them. The church jumps in a fund a huge court case for him to try and claim them himself to donate to his brother and wife so that the children would be raised in a Christian heterosexual family. (Westboro Baptist campaigners appear at the trial!) I won't reveal the ending, but it was a good read.

I must say the author had done her homework thoroughly, had interviewed people from Focus on the Family etc to try to understand where they were coming from.

Apparently the author's son came out as gay while she was writing the book.

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Matt Black

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A question or two: if civil partnerships are given the opportunity in law to upgrade to marriages, what about those couples who then choose not to so upgrade: are they going to be 'looked down' on by those who do; if not, what difference does it make? (This is kind of touching on Angelfish's closed thread.)

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
A question or two: if civil partnerships are given the opportunity in law to upgrade to marriages, what about those couples who then choose not to so upgrade: are they going to be 'looked down' on by those who do; if not, what difference does it make? (This is kind of touching on Angelfish's closed thread.)

I seem to recall there are some countries where a civil union is an option for both straight and gay couples. That would be the most sensible direction to go.

It is quite arguable that it is the deliberate delineation between straight marriage and gay civil union that is the problem, rather than marriage and civil union itself, because plenty of people don't want to enter into marriages because they regard it has having a religious connotation.

Certainly, if both gay marriages and straight civil unions are on the table, it ceases to be a sexuality discriminatino issue.

[ 18. May 2012, 11:21: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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Louise
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Trying to keep the posts for the current discussion on one thread

quote:
Originally posted by Alogon:
Okay. One good practical reason to desire marriage above civil union, since someone asked, is that marriage is a status recognized all over the world; whereas the meaning of civil union varies country to country and even (in the U.S.) from State to State, with some explicitly refusing to recognize it at all.

But regarding a church ceremony, I'd still prefer personally the old option of a rite for the making of brothers, as better suited to the situation and not so derivative.



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SvitlanaV2
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Maybe part of the problem in England is that we have an established church. It's rather bizarre to have an established church but then request that its officials keep their noses out of marriage reform, when they have a significant stake in marriage.

I estimate that gay marriage may at some stage become part of the discussion about disestablishment.

Some have suggested that equality could be gained by only allowing secular officials to conduct legal marriages, as they do in France. (In the English context this might also end up as a significant factor in the discussion about disestablishment.) However, France still isn't 'marriage-equal', because gay people can't get married. They can have a PACS agreement, which offers legal and taxation advantages to unmarried couples, and PACS is open to both same-sex and different sex couples. But only straight couples can marry.

According to one website, although PACS was devised to benefit gay couples over 90% of people who get a PACS are in fact straight.

http://www.completefrance.com/living-in-france/news/entering_in_a_pacs_agreement_1_1199504

Perhaps gay couples in France are quietly waiting until they can get married! However, marriage has declined in France, and most babies are born outside of marriage. Maybe gay marriage doesn't seem worth fighting for in France, since marriage itself is becoming marginal.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Two issues, tomsk.

1. A straight marriage doesn't require a religious celebration. It might happen to have one, but it's not a requirement in the law.

2. Why preserve a 'Christian' understanding of marriage in the law? What does that say to all the people who got married who aren't Christians (or religious in any way at all)?

In the UK, I think the main difference between civil partnerships (which are currently only for gay couples) and marriage (only for straight couples) is that marriages can be religious, and civil partnerships cannot. Indeed, I understand that the request for a change in the law was requested by the Quakers and Unitarians (whose numbers are very small), who want to be able to conduct religious marriages for gay people. However, some bishops in the CofE, an established church, is concerned that sooner or later it too will be expected to conduct gay marriages, or that it will be subjected to legal action by gay people who simply wish to make a point. At the moment, lawyers for the government and for the CofE seem to disagree about how equality legislation on this subject will affect religious groups.

Of course, in the rest of the world, there are different issues to consider. If your country has no established church or religion, then there's no need to take those views into consideration. As I've said in another thread, this conflict may move the CofE closer to disestablishment. And some people would see that as a perfectly good outcome!

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Mark Betts

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# 17074

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Response of the Orthodox Christian Churches in Britain and Ireland to the Government Consultation on ‘Same-Sex Marriage’

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Aelred of Rievaulx
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Orfeo says
To add to the new posts: I'm sure I've said it before, but "separate but equal" offends me as both a gay man and a legislative drafter.

The Archbishop of York - who, lest any shipmates are not aware of it, is black - seems to think that "separate but equal" is just the ticket for this problem.

Arch Bishop of York's Statement on Marriage and Civil Partnership

This has been excoriated in the press.
Church of England evangelicals have also offered a statement of their own, The St Matthias Day Statement ,
which is even more homophobic and laughable. IT is shamefully supported by three serving bishops. No one much is taking it seriously.

Sentamu's giveaway is when he confesses that he thinks that
quote:
... redefining marriage to embrace same-sex relationships would mean diminishing the meaning of marriage for most people with very little if anything gained for homosexual people. If I am right, in the long term we would all be losers.
Therefore he advocates civil partnerships for gay people - and manages to suggest that the C of E bishos were supportive of its introduction - though the truth is that the bishops were solidly hostile to the introduction and voted against in the majority.

It is all unconvincing flim-flam - done at great length - and boils down to wanting to deny equality under the law to people who want to get married.

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Aelred of Rievaulx:
The Archbishop of York - who, lest any shipmates are not aware of it, is black - seems to think that "separate but equal" is just the ticket for this problem.

Arch Bishop of York's Statement on Marriage and Civil Partnership

This has been excoriated in the press.
Church of England evangelicals have also offered a statement of their own, The St Matthias Day Statement ,
which is even more homophobic and laughable. IT is shamefully supported by three serving bishops. No one much is taking it seriously.

OK - so what did you think of the Orthodox response to the government's consultation? btw don't blame me - I didn't write it!

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
OK - so what did you think of the Orthodox response to the government's consultation? btw don't blame me - I didn't write it!

I think that the Orthodox, like most reactionaries, want to live in a past that never was. Talking about the "tragically high rate of teenage pregnancy" in 21st Century Britan as negative consequences of anything is a joke. The British rate of teen pregnancy is poor by European standards - but a beacon by anywhere outside Europe. Further it talks about divorce as an unqualified wrong rather than something that is less wrong than e.g. an abusive marriage.

And then it wanders inevitably into phrases like "the natural complementarity of the sexes" despite the massively differing gender roles in different societies before citing one of the two distinct and contradictory creation myths as supposed evidence.

What's there to say about the consultation? It's pretty much polite-homophobic boilerplate by an organisation more concerned with tradition than what actually helps people.

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
OK - so what did you think of the Orthodox response to the government's consultation? btw don't blame me - I didn't write it!

I think that the Orthodox, like most reactionaries, want to live in a past that never was. Talking about the "tragically high rate of teenage pregnancy" in 21st Century Britan as negative consequences of anything is a joke. The British rate of teen pregnancy is poor by European standards - but a beacon by anywhere outside Europe. Further it talks about divorce as an unqualified wrong rather than something that is less wrong than e.g. an abusive marriage.

And then it wanders inevitably into phrases like "the natural complementarity of the sexes" despite the massively differing gender roles in different societies before citing one of the two distinct and contradictory creation myths as supposed evidence.

What's there to say about the consultation? It's pretty much polite-homophobic boilerplate by an organisation more concerned with tradition than what actually helps people.

Thanks for that. I see radically different world views here, no room at all for compromise - only time (and ultimately eternity) will reveal who is right.

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
Thanks for that. I see radically different world views here, no room at all for compromise - only time (and ultimately eternity) will reveal who is right.

The thing is the battle's already been fought and won. Civil Partnerships are for pretty much all practical purposes marriages. The differences in the eyes of the law include:
  • You may not have a Civil Partnership on religious premises - this is a matter or religious freedom for churches such as the Quakers
  • You may not have bible or other religious readings at a civil partnership. Again, an offence to religious freedom.
  • You may not mention the word marriage in a Civil Partnerships ceremony. So you can't walk down the aisle to the Wedding March but can to the Imperial March.

After the civil partnership has taken place there is literally no difference in the eyes of the law between a married couple and a civilly partnered couple. And none socially to most people either. And no one is going to force gay marriages in churches that won't accept them any more than they force Roman Catholics to marry divorcees.

Oh wait. I tell a lie. There is one difference by law between the rights and obligations through marriage and those through a civil partnership. Civil partners of male peers or knights do not receive a courtesy title to which the spouse of a peer or knight would be entitled. That is it.

The battle's already been fought and won eight years ago (the Civil Partnership act was signed. - and it hasn't lead to a collapse of society.

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My real name consists of just four letters, but in billions of combinations.

Eudaimonaic Laughter - my blog.

Posts: 3926 | From: The Sea Coast of Bohemia | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
I think that the Orthodox, like most reactionaries, want to live in a past that never was.

Some of them. Maybe most. Not all.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

Posts: 56954 | From: Ecotopia | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
Thanks for that. I see radically different world views here, no room at all for compromise - only time (and ultimately eternity) will reveal who is right.

The thing is the battle's already been fought and won. Civil Partnerships are for pretty much all practical purposes marriages. The differences in the eyes of the law include:
  • You may not have a Civil Partnership on religious premises - this is a matter or religious freedom for churches such as the Quakers
  • You may not have bible or other religious readings at a civil partnership. Again, an offence to religious freedom.
  • You may not mention the word marriage in a Civil Partnerships ceremony. So you can't walk down the aisle to the Wedding March but can to the Imperial March.

After the civil partnership has taken place there is literally no difference in the eyes of the law between a married couple and a civilly partnered couple. And none socially to most people either. And no one is going to force gay marriages in churches that won't accept them any more than they force Roman Catholics to marry divorcees.

Oh wait. I tell a lie. There is one difference by law between the rights and obligations through marriage and those through a civil partnership. Civil partners of male peers or knights do not receive a courtesy title to which the spouse of a peer or knight would be entitled. That is it.

The battle's already been fought and won eight years ago (the Civil Partnership act was signed. - and it hasn't lead to a collapse of society.

So why are the politicians so intent on forcing same-sex marriage through parliament then, if we to all intents and purposes already have it? Or is it to take our minds off other things which they are not dealing with very well?

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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Sioni Sais
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# 5713

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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:

The battle's already been fought and won eight years ago (the Civil Partnership act was signed. - and it hasn't lead to a collapse of society.

Wasn't the battle lost in 1836, when the Marriage Act that permitted civil marriages was passed? From a 'holy estate ordained by God' it became no more than a contract recognised by the state.

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"We've spent more than a decade fighting jihadists, and the result is that those jihadists have changed the name of their group." (Paul Bibeau)

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