By Andrew Goddard, from Psephizo
By Andrew Goddard, from Psephizo
By Jonathan Petre, Mailonline
A panel of bishops is set to spark a fresh row over homosexuality by paving the way for the Church of England to relax its stance on gay clergy.
Sources said the group will recommend that clerics wanting to enter civil partnerships should no longer have to promise their bishops that they will abstain from sex.
Four bishops have been examining the Church’s teaching on sexuality as part of an official commission and will hand over their conclusions in a report to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby next month.
They will argue that gay clergy should not be treated any differently than other clerics who do not face intrusive questioning about their sex lives – and that they should be able to follow Church teachings without having to make a solemn vow.
But the move is likely to provoke fury among conservatives, who will regard it as another step towards the acceptance of actively gay clergy by the Church.
By John Bingham, Telegraph
It comes seven years after the introduction of same-sex civil unions in 2005 and six years after the number of couples forming them peaked.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics also showed that lesbian couples are markedly more likely to dissolve civil partnerships than gay men.
Family lawyers said that the patterns mirrored those for heterosexual couples in which marriages which break down typically do so between four and eight years in, with women are more likely to file for divorce than men.
According to the ONS there were 7,037 new civil partnerships formed in the UK last year, a 3.6 per cent rise on the previous year.
The rise came at a time when the debate about legalising same-sex marriage was at its height.
By John Smeaton, SPUC
Professor Roberto de Mattei, a leading Italian Catholic academic, has written an excellent article entitled: "Can a Catholic support civil unions to prevent gay ‘marriage’?", answering the question with a strongly-argued 'no' – see below for key extracts. Professor de Mattei's article is a powerful antidote to those "personalities from the Catholic world" such as David Quinn and Dr Austen Ivereigh of "Catholic Voices" who have supported civil partnerships. The article's thesis is entirely at one with Pope Benedict's words of 2 December 2010 that:
"The church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family".
Key extracts from "Can a Catholic support civil unions to prevent gay ‘marriage’?" by Professor Roberto de Mattei:
By Brian Miller, Juicy Ecumenism
From Christian Concern
The Church of England has postponed debates on marriage and proposals to allow civil partnerships to be registered in churches.
The motions were due to be debated during a five day General Synod meeting in York, set to begin on Friday (5th July). They have now been postponed, allegedly to allow more time to consider the issue of women bishops.
Bishops are thought to be privately considering whether to introduce services of “thanksgiving and dedication” for same sex couples in civil partnerships.
Many Bishops have been officially opposed to same sex “marriage”, arguing that civil partnerships provide “equal” rights for same sex couples.
But this has led to questions over why the Church of England does not then provide services to recognise them.
Marriage supporting members of Synod will be disappointed that debate on a motion reaffirming the “Christian doctrine of marriage” has been put off, especially in light of a recent statement by the Bishop of Leicester.
In his role as Convenor of the Bishops in the House of Lords, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens issued an official statement after the Lords voted through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, effectively signalling the end of the CofE’s official opposition to the Bill.
He said: “It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape…”
by Gavin Drake, Church Times
By Julian Mann, Virtueonline
In response to an intervention from a fellow peer in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of York did say that active homosexual relationships are 'Christian'.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland asked Dr John Sentamu during his speech in the committee stage of the same-sex marriage bill currently going through the House of Lords whether the Church of England would be prepared to perform religious ceremonies for couples in civil partnerships. She said: "The great difficulty with civil partnership marriages for Christians-those who love the Lord deeply-is that there is no religious content."
According to Hansard, the official record of debates in the British Houses of Parliament, Dr Sentamu replied:
"I wish I was speaking on behalf of the Church of England. I am not. I am part of it. The noble Baroness knows as well as I do that decisions about liturgy and constitutions are not the privilege of bishops but of the General Synod of the Church of England. This matter will need to be discussed. Incidentally, I am one of those who has gone on record as saying that had civil partnerships been given enough space, the church would not have escaped the possibility of a conversation. What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment. We are dealing with the legislation as we have it. I am trying to make it slightly easier to work out what that difference is. Give me time, and one day I may come back and speak on this."
Though his claim that active homosexuality is Christian was conveyed in the form of a rhetorical question, it was nonetheless clearly stated: "What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian?" The assumption behind the rhetorical question is that active homosexual relationships, provided they are 'committed and loving', are Christian.
To illustrate the point, consider this rhetorical question from a revisionist perpective: "What are we going to do with that sublime pain in the neck, David Virtue?" There is no doubt that the hypothetical liberal posing this rhetorical question thinks that Mr Virtue is a sublime pain in the neck – arguably to the credit of Mr Virtue.
Though Dr Sentamu did not plan explicitly to affirm active homosexuality as Christian – the comment was elicted by an intervention – such a perspective was not out of kilter with the rest of his speech. Earlier on he said:
Read the Archbishop's in-depth views on marriage and civil partnerships here
Church of Scotland Evangelicals
Many evangelicals within the Church of Scotland are deeply concerned about the current crisis over the ordination and induction of those in same-sex civil partnerships. Some have left the Kirk and others are considering doing so.
Today in Perth there was a large gathering of 350 evangelicals from the Church of Scotland (ministers, elders and members). The result of this was the formation of a network of evangelicals who have made the clear decision to remain in the Church of Scotland and to work for its reformation and renewal. We believe that the Church of Scotland remains an important vehicle for reaching the whole population of Scotland with the Gospel and, despite recent decisions, believe that God is still at work among us. We also believe that we can remain with integrity.
We urge others to join with us and to remain in the Church of Scotland, as we seek to restore and rebuild our Church.
Our vision for this network of evangelicals within the Kirk will be developed over the next few months.
June 18th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
By Rowena Mason and John Bingham, Telegraph
The Church of England will have to think about whether it is right to bless sheep and trees but not loving gay couples, its second most senior figure has suggested.
Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said it will have to answer the “big question” of blessing civil partnerships and whether they have been “given enough space” within the church.
He said the issue of unions between gay couples is a “matter which will need to be discussed” in a hint that the Church could be open to a major shift in its position when its review of sexuality reports back later this year.
Dr Sentamu made the comments in a debate in the House of Lords on the Government’s new laws legalising same-sex marriage, which he argued were an “abuse of language”.
The Archbishop, who said he is “on the mend” from treatment for prostate cancer, backed to an amendment that would differentiate between “traditional marriage” and “same-sex marriage” in the new laws.
Churches will be exempt from having to marry gay people under the new laws. However, Dr Sentamu said the legislation is would still cause “ideological damage” and likened politicians to “ill-prepared midwifes at the birth of a new institution”.
June 17th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
Civil partnerships review – terms of reference and timetable
To review the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA) in England and Wales.
To carry out a full public consultation, assess the evidence and publish a report on
• The functioning and operation of the CPA in England and Wales;
• The future of civil partnerships in England and Wales, including whether they should apply to all couples; and
• Options and recommendations for changes to civil partnerships in England and Wales.
The review of the CPA will cover England and Wales and will
• Examine evidence about how well the current arrangements for civil partnerships are working, drawing on views from the public and organisations with an interest and international comparisons
• Assess the need and demand for civil partnerships when marriage is available to all, and whether any changes to civil partnership arrangements are necessary
• Identify all the implications of and issues raised by the identified options (including risks and devolution issues)
• Assess the costs and benefits of the options
• Make recommendations for any changes to the operation and future of the CPA.
Read here (download pdf)
June 16th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
May 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
A new ComRes survey of 159 MPs, conducted over the past month, has found overwhelming parliamentary support for the amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, championed by Tim Loughton MP, which would extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.
The poll found that more than seven in ten MPs from all main parties support extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.
A separate public poll suggests support for gay marriage could be affected if the Government's proposals to legalise same sex marriage is not seen to be 'equal' in their treatment of opposite sex couples by failing to extend civil partnerships. The poll found that more than six in ten people who supported legalising same sex marriage said they would support it 'only if couples of the opposite sex also get the right to enter into a civil partnership if they wish'.
Tim Loughton MP, who is backing the amendment to extend civil partnerships, said: "This comprehensive poll clearly shows there is strong cross support to address the inequality that would result from marriage being available to same sex couples if the Bill goes through. Far from being a 'wrecking measure' some of the strongest support for my amendment to extend civil partnerships comes from the biggest supporters of same sex marriage in the Labour and Lib Dem parties. If the Government think it is right to extend marriage to everyone then it has to be right to extend civil partnerships to everyone too. This can only be good for improving stability for many more of the near 3m opposite sex couples who currently choose to cohabit but are in no formally recognised relationship. Giving them the opportunity for the rights and responsibilities that go with civil partnerships has also to be a good thing for more stability for children which is enormously important at a time of rising family breakdown."
By Andy McSmith and Sarah Morrison, Independent
U-turn will anger both Tory backbenchers and campaigners who argue same-sex couples should be able to enter civil partnerships as an alternative to marriage
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has abandoned his support for allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships under pressure from the church hierarchy.
His climbdown will be welcomed by the Government as it looks to finally ensure the smooth passage of the equal marriage bill through the House of Commons this week, against Conservative backbench and Labour Catholic opposition.
But the Archbishop’s U-turn will anger both Tory backbenchers and campaigners who argue that in the name of equality, same-sex couples should be able to enter civil partnerships as an alternative to marriage.
The Archbishop had assured campaigner Peter Tatchell four weeks ago during a private meeting in Lambeth House that when the Bill goes before the House of Lords, he would personally vote for an amendment legalising civil partnerships for heterosexuals.
But a statement, endorsed by Welby, has been put out by the Church of England contradicting his privately expressed opinion. It said: “We agree with the Government’s view that the Bill should not be amended to introduce an option of civil partnerships for couples of the opposite sex” and that it “would introduce further confusion about the place of marriage in society.”
It added that the Church was “unconvinced” there was a “genuine and widespread public need” for the change.
May 18th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
From The Christian Institute
The Government has said it will consider whether to allow heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership rather than a marriage, at a cost of up to £4bn.
Equalities Minister Maria Miller hopes the promise of a review will buy off votes and give a smoother ride for the same-sex marriage Bill.
Allowing heterosexuals to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage would cost the country up to £4bn in public service pension rights alone.
An amendment allowing straight civil unions has been tabled to the same-sex marriage Bill, and the Government is keen to see the amendment fail.
The Government has offered an alternative amendment which would promise a review of civil partnerships five years after gay marriage is legalised.
The review will include a discussion of whether to scrap the whole civil partnership system.
Tory MP David Burrowes says the last minute revision is evidence that the Government hasn’t thought things through.
Redefining marriage has “profound consequences”, he said, which “require proper consideration and debate and this is not the way to do it”.
May 17th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Partnerships Comments Off
By Tim Ross, Telegraph
A review will consider whether all couples could choose civil partnerships over marriage, under Maria Miller's plans.
MPs are seeking to re-write the same-sex marriage Bill next week to open up civil partnerships to heterosexual couples for the first time.
After initially resisting such a move, ministers have now agreed to offer a review of whether couples should be given the choice to formalise their relationships through marriage or as civil partners, regardless of their sexuality.
Mrs Miller, the Equalities Minister and Culture Secretary, said the main purpose of the Bill was to “extend” marriage to same-sex couples.
“Questions have been raised about whether we should also extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples,” she said. “There are strong views on both sides of this debate, and we have listened to those views.
“We are therefore offering the House the opportunity to have a review of this area, rather than legislating now without the required evidence.”
The minister has proposed an amendment to the Bill offering a full review of civil partnerships, which would take place after gay marriage had become legal.
Caroline Davies and Nicholas Watt, Guardian
The government moved to derail attempts to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples in a last-ditch attempt to smooth the passage of a bill that would legalise same-sex marriage.
The coalition was accused of spoiling tactics after it responded to a call for heterosexual couples to be granted the same rights to enter into civil partnerships by announcing plans for a review that would be delayed for five years once the legislation is passed. The review could mean that civil partnerships are extended to all couples – or scrapped altogether.
David Cameron, who is bracing himself for another bumpy week after the "rebellion" over an EU referendum, has issued instructions to ministers to avoid any pitfalls next week.
The government stepped in amid fears that an amendment designed to give straight couples the right to civil partnerships, planned by Tim Loughton, the former children's minister, and two other Tory MPs, could disrupt the equal marriage bill, which is opposed by many Conservatives.
Peter Tatchell criticised No 10's move. The gay rights activist told Gay Star News: "The government's decision to oppose the legalisation of civil partnerships for heterosexual couples is hugely disappointing. It is a sad betrayal of the principle of equality. I hope a majority of MPs will rebel and next week vote for the parliamentary amendment to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples."
by Daniel Martin, Mailonline
Ministers are considering allowing heterosexual couples to enter civil partnerships as part of a desperate attempt to avoid defeat on their gay marriage Bill.
In yet another U-turn to placate restive Tory backbenchers, the Government has promised a review into the future of civil partnerships five years after same-sex marriage becomes law.
It will look at whether the partnerships should be scrapped – or whether they should also be offered to a man and woman as an alternative to marriage.
The government has previously refused to countenance such a move, saying it would undermine the ‘gold standard’ status of marriage.
But Tory rebels – estimated at up to 150 – said the change did not go far enough.
They said they would still vote on Monday for the immediate extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples – which they said was vital if marriage was to be extended to same-sex couples.
Rebel leader Tim Loughton, a former children's minister, said he was confident of victory.
‘This amendment will not wash,’ he said. ‘If this Bill passes through Parliament as it stands, both marriage and civil partnerships will be available to same-sex couples, but opposite-sex couples would only have access to marriage.
‘This cannot be fair to the many couples in loving, stable relationships who for whatever reasons do not wish to go down the traditional marriage route, but who do want a public recognition of their commitment and protections under the law that civil partnerships rightly brought to gay couples.’
Read also: If you're gay, you can have a civil partnership. But if you're straight, you can't. What's equal about that? by Tim Loughton, Conservative Home
By Kunal Dutta, Independent
One of the country's most senior Anglican bishops came a step closer to endorsing gay marriage after he called for the ban on same-sex partnership blessings to be lifted.
The outgoing Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, said it was time for the church to consider the blessing of civil partnerships. "We've come to a time now that if we believe that civil partnerships are just then we can't withhold the blessing of God from that which we believe to be just," he said.
Although the remarks fell short of endorsing gay marriage they will nonetheless embolden campaigners. The Church of England has previously ruled out offering blessings to same-sex couples.
Last night Rev James said: "The Church believes there is a difference between marriage and civil partnership, between heterosexual union and same gender intimacy." He told ITV's News at Ten: "While maintaining that difference I personally hope that the Church will find a way to offering the blessing of God on the love of gay people in a civil partnership and in a committed stable relationship."
By Mary Ann Mueller, Virtueonline
On the surface it seems that the Church of England is determined to stand pat on the classic biblical understanding of marriage and not be hoodwinked by the sex-crazed culture. A 24-page document, issued this week by the Faith and Order Commission and published with the agreement of the House of Bishops, states "marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children."
Document GS Misc 1046 with a forward by "Justin Cantuar" (Justin Welby) and "Sentamu Ebor" (John Sentamu) – the archbishops of Canterbury and York – liberally use the English Standard Version, the Anglicized New Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version of the Scriptures to make the Church's case for marriage in five succinct arguments: Belief in God the Creator; Marriage & Society; Parenthood & Partnership; Freedom & Growth; and State & Church in Relation to Marriage.
First turning to the creation story in Genesis the CofE document points out that God created males and females. Christ reminded the Pharisees of that fact in Matthew when He said: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh," quoting the Genesis account of the creation of Eve to be Adam's helpmeet. This is the crux of Christian marriage that the Church of England is tentatively defending against the cultural onslaught in British society.
"Marriage is a gift of God in creation," the document declares citing the CofE's Common Worship Marriage Service. Meaning that marriage is more than a cultural development or simply a political or economic institution, that "it is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share."