Coffee House

The same-sex marriage bill and religious freedom

4 February 2013

9:26 AM

4 February 2013

9:26 AM

Parliament is entering the frenzied final hours leading up to the second reading of the same-sex marriage bill. MPs will vote on the legislation at around 7pm tomorrow, and today’s papers are full of reports that while there is no whipping operation on the free vote, the Conservative leadership is doing its best to encourage MPs who are wavering to support it.

Beyond those who are implacably opposed to the idea of gay marriage are others who worry that though the government has done its best with the ‘quadruple lock’ to protect religious institutions that wish to opt out of same-sex ceremonies, the matter isn’t really in ministers’ hands. Michael Gove’s own constituency chair Geoffrey Vero made this point on Pienaar’s Politics last night:

‘Although Michael says in the Mail today that he has total confidence in the legislation, well that’s not what he told me only a week ago when I met him in Parliament. So, there is little confidence…

‘When we discussed the matter there is no doubt that any legislation we pass in Parliament may well be overturned by the European courts and therefore we don’t have total confidence in that. And also, as regards the church, that although they talk about the quadruple lock, we don’t have total confidence that that is going to stand the test of time.’

Ministers argue the legislation supports religious freedom as it allows groups who want to conduct same-sex weddings to do so. But the conversation Vero claims he had with Gove underlines the fear that many in the party have that it could also undermine the religious freedoms of those groups, including the church, who do not want to conduct the ceremonies. The legislation now means that it will be the government that finds itself subject to a judicial review, rather than an individual vicar being sued. But as Paul Goodman points out on ConservativeHome, for all the assurances Maria Miller gives about the design of the quadruple lock, the answer that some MPs will give when asked if they’ll vote for the bill will be that it is Strasbourg where the crucial decisions on this legislation will be made, not the House of Commons.

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Show comments
  • Bickers

    The article clearly demonstrates that Parliament no longer runs the country, the EU does. When did voters give government the right to undermine/give away our sovereignty?

  • LEngland

    Just ignore their stupid, vain efforts to rewrite the dictionary. No – one is married unless they are of opposite gender. Otherwise, a State civil partnership will suffice. Commerce, make sure you put this cretinous government in its place.

  • HooksLaw
    • Tom Tom

      Put it to a Referendum then because Cameron did NOT get a Majority or a Mandate

      • Peter Orlov

        Ditto for the “Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (Amendment) Bill” and the “Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill” please too, before it is too late: everything that passes through Parliament must be put to a plebiscite.

  • NiceTeaParty

    With the Institution of Marriage rocked to its knees one frankly wonders what the fuss is about.

    No longer a lifetime covenant

    No longer a tax break

    No longer a safe of secrets

    Just another temporary lifestyle choice.

    A transient arrangement just like any other

    A relationship which on ending becomes a urinal of marital secrets

  • Magnolia

    Gay marriage seems to be Mr Cameron’s pet project and it may be an EU dictat but either way it’s a step too faror rather an overcompensation.
    One of my favourite films is the 1961 film Victim.
    It is a powerful film and beautifully acted and was risky for its day.
    The legalisation of homosexuality was clearly a right and just action but when it comes to gay marriage then the legislation is not to decriminalise anything at all.
    Gay marriage is not something that primarily will affect homosexuals but something that will change the centuries old definition of marriage for the majority.
    Those are profound differences with past legislation on gay rights and I believe that is the reason why gay marriage has split the population so badly.
    Some have argued that it is inevitable that it will be accepted in the future as the youngsters get older but I don’t believe that anyone can see in to the future reliably accurately and this is just a false premise.

  • Slim Jim

    Alexander Boot has got it sussed:

  • Slim Jim

    What happened to my earlier comment? Was it removed? I said that if this was simply a matter of ‘equality’, then when could we expect polygamists, paedophiles and pet lovers to get their turn? Or is that heresy nowadays at the Speccie?

    • Arthur

      Tell you a little story its supposed to be true. A few years ago there was a guy caught humping a sheep .Now he was arrested as the said sheep had not given its consent(only kidin there i think ) Any how next morning policeman throws a bail of hay into sheep shagers cell .Pervert shouts(( what the f–k is this)). policeman says (( Its your breakfast ))(( what says the perv)) ,policeman says ((if its good enough for your lover its good enough for you)).The sign of things to come.

  • Tom Tom
  • Tom Tom

    7 Sept 2010 EU Commissar Viviane Reding announced to EU Parliament the European Wide Implementation of Gay Marriage even if opposed by the population. “”Wir wollen keine Völker, die sich der gleichgeschlechtlichen ‘Ehe’
    widersetzen. Falls dies nicht verstanden wird, müssen wir eben eine
    härtere Gangart einlegen.”

    “We want no people to oppose Gay Marriage. If that is not understood there will have to be a harder approach to implementation.”

    According to Dignity Watch, Section 40 of the report “could mean that
    member states would be forced to indirectly recognize same-sex unions as
    equal to marriage even if such recognition does not exist in the
    respective country’s legal system.” EDW says, “If the report passes as drafted now, it would violate
    severely the principle of subsidiarity, a key founding principle of the
    EU. There is an obvious risk to undermine the sovereignty of the Member
    States in family law and specifically the definition of marriage in
    their own country by shifting a definition of marriage from family law –
    which is an exclusive competence of the Member States – to procedural

  • Slim Jim

    If this was really about ‘equality’, then why are they not catering for polygamists, paedophiles and pet lovers? This exposes the lie about civil partnerships being the last word…

  • Haldane1

    Has Lynton Crosby anything to do with this?

  • Tom Tom

    France has already passed this EU legislation and removed “mother” and “father” from all official documents. Germany is hesitating before the September GE. The further this goes to undermining and de-legitimising the State the better. The State is now threadbare and ridiculous, unable to protect and bloated with an insatiable appetite for money to squander and control over its citizens. It is now a Leviathan and must be brought to heel before it collapses as it inevitably will. There is no reason to accord it even the semblance of legitimacy and so many have withdrawn consent – it is hard to see its central institutions whether Banks or Government agencies ever being respected or being regarded as competent and representative of the nation. It is simply an imposition of Alien Occupation

    • ScaryBiscuits

      Europe is the undoing of this Tory government just as it was the previous one. From Maastricht to Lisbon, from unlimited immigration to HS2, if you want to find a nutty and unpopular policy just ask Brussels. The strange thing is that they drink from this cup so enthusiastically, claiming the EU’s policies as their own.

  • Adrian Drummond

    What an unmitigated and unnecessary mess.

    • Russell

      As I have said previously, it is strange that Cameron is so strongly in favour of gay marriage, but doesn’t agree with man(dates) which were in his manifesto and the coalition agreement!

      • ScaryBiscuits

        See Tom Tom’s post below. The true manifesto of this government is the one that is faxed from Brussels.