YOU WOULD THINK HE WOULD UNDERSTAND

Earlier this year Dr Sentamu received racist abuse after he became the Church of England’s first senior cleric to speak against the controversial plan. Now the Archbishop has reiterated his position, pointing out that civil partnerships already offer “same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to marriage”.

He added: “If the rights of Civil Partners are met differently in law to those of married couples, there is no discrimination in law, and if Civil Partnerships are seen as somehow ‘second class’ that is a social attitude which will change and cannot, in any case, be turned around by redefining the law of marriage. It may even make social attitudes go in reverse gear. So I submit that to use the law to redefine marriage when there is no legal inequity involved is a misuse of the Statute. It must never be used to give comfort or reassurance but to remedy an injustice.”

I'm just a humble, unemployed priest who left school at the age of sixteen and who cannot hope to keep up with the reasoning of intellectual giants of the stature of the bishop of York. So, I'm a bit worried about asking the following questions in case I come across as incredibly stupid. But heck, I'm going to ask them anyway.

If there is no difference between a civil partnership and marriage what is John's big problem with gay people marrying each other? Is he really alienating most of the population of England from the Church of England over a matter of semantics? Surely not! That wouldn't be very clever, would it?

Comments

YOU WOULD THINK HE WOULD UNDERSTAND — 11 Comments

  1. In Brown v Topeka Board of Education, the U.S Supreme Court answered the archbishop’s flawed logic.

    The Court took note of the equal spending, requirements and facilities the Board said it provided.
    As a finding of fact, the Court held shat separation itself, the act of carving a population out of the primary society, itself an act of discrimination, harmed those so set aside.

    In the central finding, Mr. Chief Justice Warren wrote, “Separate but equal is not good enough.”

    I know that the archbishop is not subject to American law, but he is subject to logic. You are correct that if the unions are equal to the marriages, there is no logical reason one and only one can be blessed.

    But beyond that, separation does harm, it in fact says to those separated out, “you are not worthy” and to those within, “you are special.” The archbishop knows that. He simply wants to be in the special group. He is wrong.

    FWIW
    jimB

  2. In 2008 the California Supreme Court held that it violates equal protection to give opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples essentially the same rights and obligations but calling the relationship different names, “marriage” for the first and “domestic partnership” for the second:

    “First, because of the long and celebrated history of the term ‘marriage’ and the widespread understanding that this term describes a union unreservedly approved and favored by the community, there clearly is a considerable and undeniable symbolic importance to this designation. Thus, it is apparent that affording access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples, while providing same-sex couples access to only a novel alternative designation, realistically must be viewed as constituting significantly unequal treatment to same-sex couples. …

    “Second, particularly in light of the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay persons, there is a very significant risk that retaining a distinction in nomenclature with regard to this most fundamental of relationships whereby the term ‘marriage’ is denied only to same-sex couples inevitably will cause the new parallel institution that has been made available to those couples to be viewed as of a lesser stature than marriage and, in effect, as a mark of second-class citizenship. …

    “Third, it also is significant that although the meaning of the term ‘marriage’ is well understood by the public generally, the status of domestic partnership is not. While it is true that this circumstance may change over time, it is difficult to deny that the unfamiliarity of the term ‘domestic partnership’ is likely, for a considerable period of time, to pose significant difficulties and complications for same-sex couples, and perhaps most poignantly for their children, that would not be presented if, like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples were permitted access to the established and well-understood family relationship of marriage.” In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757, 845-46 (2008).

  3. I posted a somewhat lengthy response at Thinking Anglicans (which, because I don’t question anyone’s presumed heterosexuality, they may actually publish).

  4. At the Senate inquiry into amending the Marriage Act here in Australia, I responded to a question on whether civil unions would be adequate. I responded that the existence of a ‘whites only’ drinking fountain and a drinking fountain for others was inherently discriminatory even if they deliver identical water from identical pipes.

    I could have gone on to say, that riding in the back of the bus will get you to your destination as surely and with the same level comfort as riding in the front…

  5. MP, in the United States there is a huge difference between the legal rights and protections afforded by marriage and those afforded by civil partnerships (in those states where the latter exist at all). What is the situation in Britain? Are the “rights and responsibilities” afforded to civil partners the same as those enjoyed by married persons? Or is the good Archbishop talking through his mitre?

  6. I find the same problem that you do MP. Trying to follow the logic and the contortions in some of these statements is hard. I think though there is a simple way to cut through the bullshit and understand it. It is about the passing of generations.

    The younger people see no problem with gay equality in the church or anywhere (granted some very few exceptions with young fundy nuts). The older people are getting around to it but its a little harder for them because they grew up with the prejudice.

    Now your Bishop bloke, be he black, white or brindle, never mind, the material fact is that he’s been employed in the church for many years and he saw no reason to rock the boat before. He saw no reason to preach/push for gay marriage from the pulpit for all these years so naturally he’s going to find it hard to just suddenly dump his previous position. In fact he’ll work harder to justify it, even if he’s only trying to justify it to himself. He can’t change his position now because he took the money, he dined off the anti-gay position for all these years. I’m not saying he hated anyone or did them any harm but he took his clergy wages and held that position and now, how can he change it?

    But someone currently in the church, who has never held an anti-gay position, some young priest somewhere (male or female) will one day rise to the top job (it’s only an age thing so its only a matter of time) and they will feel no hesitation in pushing their view and then gay people will have full equality.

  7. I find the same problem that you do MP. Trying to follow the logic and the contortions in some of these statements is hard. I think though there is a simple way to cut through the bullshit and understand it. It is about the passing of generations.

    The younger people see no problem with gay equality in the church or anywhere (granted some very few exceptions with young fundy nuts). The older people are getting around to it but its a little harder for them because they grew up with the prejudice.

    Now your Bishop bloke, be he black, white or brindle, never mind, the material fact is that he’s been employed in the church for many years and he saw no reason to rock the boat before. He saw no reason to preach/push for gay marriage from the pulpit for all these years so naturally he’s going to find it hard to just suddenly dump his previous position. In fact he’ll work harder to justify it, even if he’s only trying to justify it to himself. He can’t change his position now because he took the money, he dined off the anti-gay position for all these years. I’m not saying he hated anyone or did them any harm but he took his clergy wages and held that position and now, how can he change it?

    But someone currently in the church, who has never held an anti-gay position, some young priest somewhere (male or female) will one day rise to the top job (it’s only an age thing so its only a matter of time) and they will feel no hesitation in pushing their view and then gay people will have full equality.

  8. I think he is probably correct, Mary Clara. As far as I know, having spoken with friends who have gone through the civil partnership procedure, their rights are exactly the same as married heterosexual couples. So, in England, it is mainly a matter of semantics and the obscenity of the churches refusing to allow Christian same sex couples to ploth their troths before God in their place of worship.