Conservative MP demands marriages be banned in Churches that refuse homosexuals

In the run up to Conservative PM David Cameron’s government amending the Civil Partnership Act to allow civil partnerships in religious premises No religious institution will be forced to perform civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.” Mike Weatherley, a fellow Conservative MP, has written to the PM demanding that churches should be banned from holding marriages if they refuse to perform civil partnerships for gay couples.

Weatherley basis his draconian demand on the precedent set by banning Catholic adoption agencies for upholding Church teaching regarding adoption of children by homosexuals.

‘As long as religious groups can refuse to preside over ceremonies for same-sex couples, there will be inequality. Such behaviour is not be tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all. I suggest that it makes little difference if unions are called Marriages, Civil Partnerships or some other term (such as simply ‘Unions’). Until we untangle unions and religion in this country, we will struggle to find a fair arrangement.’

Protect the Pope comment: When Catholic Tony Blair’s government introduced civil partnerships he stated that the legal distinction between the religious idea of marriage would remain distinct from civil partnerships between homosexuals. Now the Coalition government is breaking this legal protection and blurring the distinction by allowing religious groups to perform civil partnerships.

To calm the fears of Churches who uphold the moral teaching of Christianity, such as the Catholic Church and the Church of England, homosexual campaigner Peter Tatchell has said that, ‘No religious institution will be forced to perform civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.’

With respect to Peter Tatchell Protect the Pope doesn’t find his words reassuring or believable in light of his vicious attack on Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church on the occasion of the Holy Father’s visit to the UK.  Conservative Mike Weatherley’s letter to David Cameron makes it clear that the Catholic Church, and the Church of England, have every reason to fear that the next phase of the campaign to establish pseudo-gay marriages will be to coerce them to accept homosexuals or be banned from holding marriages. They’ve banned the Catholic Church from placing children for adoption, now the stage is being set to ban us from holding marriages.

H/T Fr Ray Blake’s blog






39 comments to Conservative MP demands marriages be banned in Churches that refuse homosexuals

  • Karla

    What right does the government have to tell Churches who they should marry? The Church is not part of the government! The government has no right to dictate who Churches should marry.

    Does this MP want this to be extended to Mosques, or just focusing on this ban in Churches (as usual)? Tell any Imam at a Mosque that they will not be able to marry hetrosexual couples if they do not marry gay couples and see the outrage and the repercussions.

  • gerry

    He’s MP for Hove. His blog is at

    Maybe a bit of a big jump to equate one lad with ‘the government’.

  • ms catholic state

    I read on some blog recently (I can’t remember which one) that the Catholic Church should only allow couples that sign up to the teachings of the Church to get married in the Church.

    That should go some way towards the Church protecting rightly protecting herself from malicious and vicious outside influences.


  • fd

    As you may know the Pope is due to celebrate Mass in Ancona, central Italy, on september the 11th.
    A left wing party of the city ” sinistra,ecologia e libertà” (left ecology and fredoom) – the founder and national leader of the party is Nichi Vendola who says to be homosexual but he has always said to be proud of being Catholic too- well the Ancona representatives of his party have put posters on the walls which read: “The industrious people of Ancona, a welcoming city which puts into practice the values of peace, fraternity and equality welcome Pope Benedict XVI and are grateful to Him for the support He is giving to workers and the young generations.
    When I read this on La Repubblica,the leading center-left daily, I was really pleased.
    I have always thought that one of the reasons we’ve got the person you know in power in this country is the fact that the left has always been anti-Catholic in a bigot way and that’s why they were not elected in power by the people.
    Reading such a poster makes you think that the Peppone – Don Camillo times ( the glorious movie set in the countryside of central Italy after WWII shows a communist mayor and a priest who are like cat and dog but in the end they’re both good chaps) are finally over !
    But then I’m brought back to reality and I see that La Repubblica, instead of praising such an openess of mind of a party most members of which do not even believe in God but at least show their gratitude to Pope Benedict, well instead of praising this La Repubblica calls it a weird gesture and notes that most members of that party in all the other parts of Italy disagree with it.
    So, a swallow doesn’t make a summer as you say in English, or a spring as we say in Italian, but the fact is that,unfortunately, these leftists want to go on playing cats and dogs , not realising that this doesn’t make things better, infact it compounds them
    Here is our “swallow”

    • spesalvi23

      The thing with Peppone is: he has a heart and is not fully ideology blinded – he’s preserved some common sense.
      Which is something you cannot really say about left wingers nowadays.
      And then there is the great Don Camillo: he’s solid in his values, but stands up for the poor and takes their side during the strike and is therfore met with hostility by the consevative crowd.

      Which proves the point: the Church is neiter left, nor right wing – it’s simply true to Christ.

  • fd

    The proposal of your MP, however, is hideous and INdecent!
    I think that Catholics in Britain and elsewhere should take to the streets and show their dissatisfaction and that they are fed up !
    On this websites, and sometimes on Avvenire, I’ve read too many SHOCKING or AWFUL proposals made by English politicians.

    • Tim

      I would love UK catholics to take to the streets on this issue. It might help us gauge just how many catholics actually agree with their reactionary leaders (none of my Catholic friends would be prepared to march on an anti-gay platform). My prediction is that turn out would be poor – but there is nothing stopping you from proving me wrong.

      • Lisa

        I think most young people at World Youth Day are in agreement with Jesus and the Pope on this. If you think the Pope is anti-gay, so is Jesus. Jesus upheld traditional marriage – he never spoke of marriage between two people of the same sex. He upheld traditional marriage between a man and a woman as the only place for sex. The rest he grouped under the terms ‘adultery, sexual immorality, fornication’. Therefore the Pope is only presenting the truth as Jesus presented it. It does not matter in the end how many baptised Catholics agree with this or not. But I must say that most young people at World Youth Day are supporters of traditional marriage.

  • fd

    The fact is that Catholic’s rights in the UK and other norther European countries are being trodden upon with the total indifference , or worse complacency, of the world media.
    And in this hideous TRUMANSHOW the media in many countries,including mine, pretend that these secularist laws make everybody happy while it’s clear that this is NOT so

  • This poor man is clearly very confused- hardly surprising if one reads the Wikipedia entry on him:

  • spesalvi23

    The limitations of tolerance in a oh-so-tolerant society. Strangely: once more it’s categories.
    You must tolerate me – no matter what you may think about my views.
    I won’t tolerate you – because you’re views are unacceptable.

    And then we’re being fed by the published opinion what we should tolerate or not.
    I do believe there’s pattern in this and it’s NOT a good one.

    • Gerry

      Everyone has the right to regard you or me or anyone else as a fruitcake, and we have the right to return the compliment. It is called freedom of conscience.

      But you’re right mate, there are some views that are unacceptable.

      • spesalvi23

        I’m shocked!! Shocked, I say, about the abundance of political incorrectness on display here!!
        Whatever… But still, I don’t see the connection between fruitcake and forcing current ideology on 2000+ year old institutions.
        Hmm… maybe, you have to be fruitcake to consider such a demand..

        Did you mention freedom of conscience?? Well, what about such freedom for clergy of whatever religion who cannot agree to gay marriage without first cucking their conscience into the rubbish bin?

  • Tim

    I see this as a perfect example of where the answer to this morass of conflicting rights lies in secularism – the clear separation of church and state.

    A church wedding is two things:

    1, part 1 – the religious aspect (which some churches regard as a sacrement and some do not)
    2, Part 2 – the civil bit, which is the state’s recognition of rights and responsibilities arrising from what is essentially a contract betweem two people.

    When Karla says “The government has no right to dictate who Churches should marry.” she is correct, but only partly. The government has no right to dictate about part 1 of a wedding. The church has the right to decide its own rules regarding who it allows to participate in religious ceronmonies and sacrements. But if the church’s independence is to be respected, then the flip side is that the state’s independence should be respected too. It is equally true to say that the church has no right to dictate who a democratically elected state is allowed to marry.

    The only way to resolve this conflict is to be clear about the distinction of part 1 and part 2 of the marriage. The church has conplete control over part 1 and the state has complete control over part 2.

    This is the system that works fine in many other countries. For example if you get married in Spain – you go to the town hall for the part 2 bit and then the church for the part 1 bit. It would not be a complete disaster or an outragous imposition if the UK moved to a similar system.

    Separating the two parts of a wedding does have a practical disadvantage – it is marginally less convenient. We either decide that this is a minor irritation that we can live with or we decide that in certain limited circumstances we allow (but not require) clergy to carry out part 2 (on the clear understanding that they are acting as “subcontractors” on behalf of the state) at the same time as part 1 (which is carried out on their own authority). Part 1 is regulated by the church’s rules and part 2 is regulated by the state’s rules and it is entirely optional as to whether the clery of a particular church partcipipates in part 2.

    Isn’t this a perfect example of tolerance being extended in a fair and symetrical way. The church tolerates the civil part of a wedding that it does not approve of and the state tolerates the church doing what it likes within its religious part of a marriage.

    My prediction is that in time we will move to this kind of arrangment.

    • ms catholic state

      So much for secularism then …eh Tim?!

      • gerry

        The state tolerates morris dancing too ;)

      • Tim

        sorry, i don’t understand your comment. The kind of arrangement for manageing conflicting rights that I have described IS secularism.

        • ms catholic state

          Not in practise it isn’t!! Only in theory….until secularists have enough power to foist their will upon the followers of Jesus Christ. It’s all coming out now. But let’s see how things pan out.

          Still….the Church must be shrewd (Jesus Christ ordered us to be shrewd believe it or not)….and must protect herself in the not-so-friendly environment she now finds herself.

          • Tim

            sorry, I must be being thick, but I am still confused.

            My proposal IS secularism – the Church is free to do their bit without interference and the state is free to do its bit without interference. That is what secularism is – no more no less.

            Are you suggesting that such an arrangement would not be accepable (if so why not)?

            Or are you suggesting that such an arrangement would not be secularism (because you imagine secularism is something worse than my proposal)?

            Secularism prevents athiests “foisting their views” on the followers of jesus Christ amd prevents the followers of Jesus Christ foisting their views on atheists. It is the only way forward in a country where there is a diversity of religious and non-religious beliefs.

            There is a contradiction between gay rights and the religiosu rights of Catholics. Either we have a nasty fight and one side wins and tramples on the rights of the other. Of we have a secular framework were both sides are required to butt out of matters that do not properly concern them but whether both sides gain the freedom to to whatever they want wihing their own legitimate sphere.

          • ms catholic state

            No Tim…secularism is not the only way. Many varied religons can co-habit nicely together in a religious state where one religion is dominant. I believe before the Iran revolution….Jews lived happily there in their own Jewish enclaves….without interference from the state. Same for Christians in Saddam’s Iraq. Their rights were protected by the government.

            And as I pointed out in another post….secularists love to lay down the rights for various religions…while thrashing the rights of the unborn. That shows the narrow remit of secularism’s supposed tolerance. Also we see that gay rights are to be upheld over Christian rights. Very unsatisfactory.

          • sam mace

            mrs catholic state saddam was responsible for a genocide of hundreds of thousands of people.

          • Tim

            “No Tim…secularism is not the only way”

            Yes it is. I refuse to live in an enclave or on license from some religious despot. I will not be a Dhimmi or second class citizen in my own country.

            Can’t say I am surprised you have a soft-spot for Saddam’s Iraq. His regime appealed to a certain kind of authoritarian catholic. Of course Sadam’s second in command, Tariq Aziz was a Catholic. This was seemingly enough for the Pope to grant him an audiance in the Vatican in 2003 when the rest of the international community was hunting him down as a war criminal.

  • Mike2

    The suggestion that the civil and religious parts of weddings should be conducted separately and by different authorities is an interesting one. Not so long ago we had a few noisy atheists complaining about the (exaggerated) cost to the taxpayer of the Pope’s state visit to the UK. Now, at a time of economic austerity (to use a phrase used so eloquently by certain protestors in Spain), we have an atheist suggesting that the state should spend large extra sums of money for purely ideological reasons. At the moment, the Church saves the taxpayer considerable sums of money by marrying people at no cost to the taxpayer. If this proposal were to be accepted the state would have to spend more money on conducting civil weddings.

    This was the situation in Poland under Communism:
    What is interesting is that the brides dressed down to go to the civil part of the wedding. Maybe if this became the law in the UK then religious couples should perhaps turn up to the civil part of the procedure in their jeans to show that it is the religious part which, to them, matters.

    Incidentally, would this rule of separate ceremonies’ apply equally to Humanist weddings? That might discourage couples getting married by a Humanist official, which would not be too popular with the Humanist officials considering how much they charge to conduct such ceremonies.

    The proposal that people should have to get married twice, if they want a Church wedding, is also an attack on hard-pressed working (prospective) families (to use another hackneyed phrase beloved by politicians). They would be penalised financially at a time when they can ill-afford it. Come to think of it, is that not a form of inequality: that if you want a Church wedding you would have to pay twice?

    • Tim


      You raise some interesting points. Let me tackle them out of order.

      Humanist “weddings” -
      The current law in England and Wales is that Humanist celebrants can’t marry people (they can in Scotland, I think). So the current situation is that if you have a humanist wedding you need to go to the registery office first and get the paperwork sorted out and then have the humanist celebration bit. IIUIC, this is what happens with many Muslim weddings too as most Immans are not “licenced” to carry out the legal bit. So there is a presedent for weddings to be split into two parts already in England already. As to whether humanist celibrants should be able to handle the legal bit of the wedding. I don;t have strong feelings on this. I certainly don’t think that they should be granted a “right” to carry this out, but perhaps if they are happy carry out this work and the state is happy that they will be non-discriminatory (ie, that they wouldn’t discriminate against Christians for example) then they could be “licenced” to do this. As to the fees charged by humanist celebrants. I can’t get too excited about this firstly because they charge less to those who can’t pay and secondly because there is competition in this field many celebratnts charge below the BHA recomended rates (you can get a humanist wedding for £100 to £200 or for free if you ask a friend o do it). Incendentally I AM concerned by the BHA’s “recomended” fee scale as this looks a bit like a cartel to me, but that is a separate issue entirely.

      “dressing down at the civil part”-
      People can wear what they want. My wife’s sister got married in Spain and whilst they didn’t attend the town hall in jeans, it was very much a low-key event (with parents only invited) compared to the ceronmony in the Cathedral and I don’t see any problem with that. If people want to emphasise one aspect over the other that is entirely up to them. FOr an atheist having a humanist wedding, the registry office bit is usually very low key and the public humanist bit is what the couple consider to be the “real wedding”. It isn’t a battle for status between the civil part and the religious part. they are not competing things because tehy are of a very different nature. Most people will regard the legal part as important paperwork but not of any deeper significance compared with the ceronmony. It would be a bit like getting your children baptised. Many people think this is important and the legal registration of the birth whilst important is a completely different kind of important and doesn’t try and usurp the baptism.

      - cost implications
      I think that this is a bit of a red-herring. I got married in a C of E church and paid the following “legal costs” in addition to a payment to the vicar, organist, bell ringers and church.
      •the fee set by law payable to the church: £262
      •your marriage certificate: £3.50
      •having your banns read at the home church: £22
      •having your banns read at the church where you will marry: £22
      •your banns certificate: £12
      Total legal fee: £321.50

      It was my understanding that the church would waive some or all of their costs (and in fact they did) but that the “legal costs” at leaat some of them where not for the benefit of the church and ended up with the civil authories anyway. It is my understanding that the Catholic situation is different but similar – the church can charge (or may decide not to) for the Priest’s time use of premises etc but that there are also fees that the priest collects on behalf of the civil authories.

      All that would change if the two parts were separated is that the civil authories would be paid their fees directly.

      Anyway. I dislike your implication that my proposals can be dismissed because they are for “purely ideological reasons”. The Catholic ban on gay marriage is for “purely ideological reasons”. If Catholics want their ideology to be tolerated, then they ought to be prepared to tolerate the state’s ideology based on an understanding of equality for homosexcual relationships.

      • Deacon Nick

        Just to clarify, my Catholic Diocese does not have a set fee for marriages, which I think is the case for all dioceses in the UK. We leave the donation up to the couple. If the couple can’t afford to pay, we don’t expect them to. We don’t charge for the reception of sacraments.

        • Tim

          Thanks Nick. It is my understanding howver that for a Catholic wedding to be legal under civil law, the couple must give notice of their intention to marry to the Civil Registrar, turn up at the registry office and pay £33.50 to the registrar?

          My point is that religious weddings already result in money being paid to both the civil authories (which are set in stone and MUST be paid although someone else could of course donate the money to a couple) and the church (which, to its creidt, the church may decide to waive or reduce or be flexible about)

          • Deacon Nick

            Yes, that’s what we had to do when we got married, that is register our intent to marry at the Registry office before our reception of the sacrament of marriage. The thing is the State does recognise Catholic marriages as valid. If the campaign to de-couple this arrangement is successful, then Catholics would have to participate in two ‘unions’, a State marriage and a Catholic marriage. I don’t want any more state involvement in my life, and find the idea of making such personal promises before a state official abhorrent.

          • Tim

            ” I don’t want any more state involvement in my life,and find the idea of making such personal promises before a state official abhorrent.”

            If that is the case, then you would be free to get married in a church only and forget the civil part of the marriage completely and just get married in the eyes of God and in accordance with the rules of your church. The state needn’t have anything to do with it. The only downside is that the state wouldn’t recognise you as married. This would be of little practical consequence outside of divorce (which ought not to concern a good Catholic) and tax treatment of inheritance of the marital home (which can be avioded when you buy a house by making sure you are both “tennents in common” which is what most conveyancers will do anyway.

            It is an attempt to “have your cake and eat it” to try and claim the benefits of a state-granted marriage rights but not be willing to allow the state to make the rules regarding it.

            The current situation (at least in england and Wales) where the state recognsies Catholic marriages is only because the state allows the priest to act as an agent of the state (being a Catholic priest does not automatically allow you to carry out the civil part of marriages – priests must be registered with the Registrar General to allow them to carry out the civil part of marriages on behalf of the state – this occassionally presents problems where the Priest is from a foriegn branch of the church and therefore not on the approved “list” although in the eyes of the church he is perfectly competant to carry out the marriage. I went to a Catholic wedding in a Church in Kennilworth where the Groom was German and the couple wanted his German priest to conduct the marriage- we wasn’t permitted to in the eyes of the law. He conducted much of the servcie but the local ENglish Priest had to do the bits that were inportant in the eyes of the law)

            Isn’t it abhorent to have a Priest acting as an agent of a state?

            The truth is that your marriage already involved you participating in two unions – civil and catholic. If you got divorced in the civil courts the fact that the marriage consists of two separate things would become apparent – you would no longer be married in the eyes of the state but you would still be married in the eyes of the church. The only way to explain this contradiction is to realise that a church wedding actually already involves two “unions” the legal and the religious/sacremental. The fact that the same person presided over both cermonies doesn’t mean that there were two unions. The priest was whereing two hats – he was an agent of God and an agent of the state.

          • Tim

            … I should add that the situation is different with C of E wedding. The Vicar is already and automatically an agent of the state (because the church is establishsed) and doesn’t need special permission to carry out legally regognised marriages. Intention to marry is declared via the posting of church banns and no prior notifcation to the registry office is needed.

            It might appeal to some Catholics to argue for their church to be treated with the same privilege as the Anglicans in this regard (it would also align with the idea of equality), but the privilege that the Anglicans have to run their own marriages without state interference is granted to them at a heavy price. It means that the state now has a legitimate interest in interfering with Anglican practice and doctrine. Parliment has the final say of all measures of the Gerneral Synod the Church’s governing body and could therefore force Anglican Vicars to marry gay people.

            On balance, it would seem that a solution involving church/state separation would be in the interest of the Catholic Church (who wish to maintain their own understanding and definition of marriage). Being unable to make the rule on the civil part of marriage (and therefore having to withdraw from being able to conduct the cvil part of marriage) is the price you will have to pay, but given the benefit of being better able to maintain your own rules on marriage and the benefit if being on much stronger ground (morally, logically and legally) when you tell the gay righst people to “go away”, I would have thought it a price worth paying.

          • Teresa

            “This would be of little practical consequence outside of divorce”

            Speaking of practical matters, it strikes me if ever tax allowance for marriage couples were reinstated (as was promised, I believe) then according to your way of thinking, homosexuals would qualify for tax relief and Catholics wouldn’t!

            So there is one circumstance where it WOULD be of practical consequence. And laws are changing all the time. There could be others – they may well be already.

            Also, just to clarify- the Catholic Church does not recognise a civil marriage. There is no such thing as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. Marriage is a sacrament. The state part is just a contract. Equally there is no such thing as divorce in the Catholic Church.

            As no doubt you have heard time and again on this site, God made marriage, not man. The rightful place for it is in the Church. Atheist do not believe in God, yet still claim the right to marry. Why do people attempt to claim something that they don’t believe in? A state ceremony should be called what it is – a contract, and not a marriage. Then people could choose to enter into a “legal contract” as well as getting married if they so wish, and be recognised as legally contracted.

          • Tim

            “Speaking of practical matters,it strikes me if ever tax allowance for marriage couples were reinstated (as was promised,I believe) then according to your way of thinking,homosexuals would qualify for tax relief and Catholics wouldn’t! ”

            Good greif, you manage to find discrimination where there is none. No-one is stopping Catholics having a state recognised marriage. Just insisting that the state makes the rule for this and if the Church can’t live with those rules then the state part of the marriage takes place separately. Catholics in Spain have been having separate civil and church weddings for decades and enjoy different tax treatment as a consequence.

  • Later this month, Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting Germany. Read what the Mayor of Berlin has to say about the visit as well as Catholic doctrine:

    Nick, I’m hoping that you will address this here. God love you and bless you for your tireless work on behalf of the Church and her Vicar.

  • savvy


    I agree with your proposal. There is a difference between state and sacramental marriage. However, there are reasons it won’t work. The Apostolic churches have sacraments including marriage. The reformation churches do not. They have adopted state laws on these issues. They are therefore state-churches.

    This is the confusion.

    • Tim

      ” However,there are reasons it won’t work. ”

      But it works in Spain. It could work here too.

      • savvy

        I would generally agree with Deacon, that I don’t want to waste my time with two weddings. But, since the state is moving away from what is an ideal natural marriage to begin with, I don’t have a choice.

  • Ioannes

    The exchange of vows is the legal part of the marriage and must therefore be done in English, even if the nuptial Mass is in Latin. The Church of England is hardly likely to surrender its right to marry people, which was recognized by Act of Parliament in 1949 and would require positive legislation (not simply the application of later equality laws) to alter. It has also become a constitutional convention since the 1928 Prayer Book controversy that Parliament no longer interferes in the internal affairs of the Established Church. Weatherley is simply doing what a lot of politicians do in the silly season, viz. flying a kite to attract publicity, and is not to be taken seriously.

  • gerry

    ‘As no doubt you have heard time and again on this site,God made marriage,not man. The rightful place for it is in the Church. Atheist do not believe in God,yet still claim the right to marry. Why do people attempt to claim something that they don’t believe in? A state ceremony should be called what it is –a contract,and not a marriage. Then people could choose to enter into a “legal contract”as well as getting married if they so wish,and be recognised as legally contracted.

    This is a POV, but there is also good historic precedent for others.

    Under earlier Scots law, there were three forms of “irregular marriage” which can be summarised as the agreement of the couple to be married and some form of witnessing or evidence of such. An irregular marriage could result from mutual agreement, by a public promise followed by consummation, or by cohabitation and repute[1]. All but the last of these were abolished by the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1939, from 1 January 1940. Prior to this act, any citizen was able to witness a public promise. The tradition of eloping English couples searching for blacksmiths resulted legally from the fact that blacksmiths were necessarily citizens and could often be recognised by strangers by their presence at their forge.

    A marriage by “cohabitation with repute” as it was known in Scots Law could still be formed; popularly described as “by habit and repute”, with repute being the crucial element to be proved. In 2006, Scotland was the last European jurisdiction to abolish this old style common-law marriage or “marriage by cohabitation with repute”, by the passing of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

    Bottom line is, the state sets the rules.

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