A storm of nonsense: gay marriage opponents lose their wits - Spectator Blogs

10 December 2012

My word, the latest kerfuffle over gay marriage runs the gamut from dumb to dumber. Here, for instance, is Cristina Odone:

He may get away with bullying a great many – perhaps the majority – into accepting his proposals. But in doing so Cameron will create a less liberal and tolerant society. Those who have held fast to their principles, will have to accept what the majority wants. But will the majority respect what the minority believes in? Not in Cameron’s Britain, they won’t. The moment the vicar or priest refuses to celebrate a gay marriage in their church, the aggrieved couple will see them in court — in Strasbourg. Here, at the European Court of Human Rights, Christians will once again be thrown to the lions as their opponents will strive to set a precedent: equal rights means equal access to religious marriage ceremony. Anyone who stands in a gay couple’s way will be persecuted by the law (and those strident gay rights lobbyists who tolerate only those who see everything their way.)

As people of principle will be forced to go against their conscience, David Cameron will smile and play the charming host, welcoming Britons to the new age of intolerance.

Oh really? ‘Tis true that the courts are an arena in which weird dramas take place and no-one should necessarily suppose the outcome of any putative legal challenge to these putative restrictions. Nevertheless, it might be worth recalling that the churches already impose restrictions upon whose marriages they will recognise. And yet despite this no-one has yet thought to petition the courts in an effort to bend the churches to their will.

Indeed, to the extent that a religiously-defined estimation of marriage has been damaged in recent times it has been counterfeited by the churches themselves, not by outsiders demanding clergymen officiate at homosexual unions. There are many people – you will most likely have attended some of their weddings – whose allegiance to any kind of godly sacrament is a matter of temporary, technical convenience that lasts no longer than the day of their wedding ceremony. The churches – at least the christian ones – seem perfectly content to marry the unbelieving. This being so, why not marry gay couple either?

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Not, of course, that I think the churches should be compelled to recognise far less host such ceremonies. That is a matter for their ain conscience. I cannot quite see how the churches can realistically be compelled to preside over homosexual marriages any more than I can see why anyone would object to their disinclination to officiate at other services either.

That is and as best I know, the catholic church is not compelled to bless a marriage between a protestant and a muslim. Far less is is required to host such a ceremony and, again to the best of my knowledge, no-one has yet suggested this manner of restriction is a ghastly affront to anyone’s human rights. I see no reason why homosexuality should be treated any differently. Nor, in the end, can I see how the government can, even if it wished to or thought it prudent, really insist that the churches declare open house for all-comers. (If it is a matter of “qualifying” for marriage then it must surely be easy enough to alter the criteria for qualification.)

Not, of course, that the government intends to do so. But it seems typical of those who shout loudest opposing this manner that they do so in the name of tolerance even as they invent spurious grounds for supposing that their rights are being offended when, in fact, it is more frequently simply their prejudices that are under the cosh.

That’s as it may be. Again, however, too many people are married in church as it is and there’s no obvious or compelling argument for extending that category error to include homosexuals. At least none that says it must be compulsory. Live and let live and all that (as Andrew Lilico suggests in this sensible, nuanced post). God may not like it but he’ll just have to lump it even though, in his own club, it is fine for him to make his own rules.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Good view

  • Alfred Cavill

    It should be up to the priest or cleric whether they feel morally or religiously opposed to marrying gay people in their church. The legal process should not be allowed to enter this arena as it is religious NOT legal. I am opposed to same sex people getting married in Church and feel no compunction to explain why as is my right under all democratic and freedom principles and do not have to put up with any criticism about my stance, so there.

  • Lynette

    Why would anybody bother to attend a court in Strasbourg. I certainly wouldn’t, would tell them to go jump.

  • Augustus

    It’s not really a question of ‘live and let live’, but one of changing or expanding a concept to include something different. An Alice in Wonderland world. The concept of art, for example, can be ammended to include anything and everything you care to name. So art then means nothing, because it means anything anyone says it does. And the result is a sterile cultural concept for all. Homosexuals certainly have a right to pursue happiness, but they should not have a right to co-opt a concept that does not describe homosexuality. Something cannot be different and at the same be the same.

  • Beefeater

    Why homosexual couples – or any dissenter from church authority – wants to keep the old God but not his old rules is a puzzle to me. If they insist that they believe in God and worship him, how can the disobey him? Why do they want to marry in the sight of God in church, when the church says God will be offended by it? And if they know God better (how?), then they can invite him to view the ceremony wherever they decide to hold it. Getting God to come to a wedding is easier than getting a state to certify the marriage.

    Hasn’t some enterprising party planning company bought up some of the many empty churches in order to give a church wedding ceremony to suit all customers?

  • Humphrey

    What a dreadful piece. According to this argument,those who oppose gay marriage are not acting from principle or firmly-held beliefs but are having their prejudices put “under the cosh”. And instead of the Aunt Sally example of the Catholic Church being compelled to bless a marriage between a Protestant and a Muslim, what of the real-life example of Catholic adoption agencies being forced to close because they will not place a child for adoption by a gay couple? If, contrary to its fundamental beliefs, the Church is now compelled under equalities legislation to consider gay couples in placing a child for adoption, surely it can be compelled to allow gay couples to marry in its churches under the same legislation.

    • Baron

      you’ve got it Humprey, that’s what they are gunning for, that’s what they’ll get.

  • andagain

    So far all the arguments against gay marriage that I have seen are that “I don’t like it”, or “lots of people don’t like it”.

    Are those really the best arguments?

    I think the problem is that even the people arguing against gay marriage seem to no longer have any particular idea of what a marriage is supposed to be for anyway. If they did, they might at least be able to argue that gay marriage would subvert that function.

    • Jen

      Well gay marriage does subvert that function as it can’t produce offspring plus it’s physically revolting as, if you believe in God you know he destroyed two whole cities because of homosexuality but if you believe in evolution, it makes no sense as everyone knows which part of a female body was made for a part of the male body. And everyone knows which part of the male body was NOT made for a part of another male body. Who can wonder at so much antipathy from the public?

      • Derek Donnell

        You’re a moron. What you say is revolting must have been on your mind quite a lot.
        God is a myth.

      • Mohammed Yaya

        Well said Jen, these people need a lesson in basic human biology

  • Stuart Patterson

    I am not left or right, I am a person, with feeling, who loves his family and friends, who works hard, I am a proud person, proud of my achievements and optimistic about my future even tho I have suffered systemic homophobia, because I am nice, I have had a Mormon say to me he does not believe I will go to hell like his religion teaches, someone who see’s past the doctrine. We do not hurt you so why do you hurt us, I personally will not listen to a court or religious establishment to define my love for someone, there will be no referendum on my life, ok got that? that all!!!!

  • H

    The Church of England, on the other hand, is obliged to marry catholics and muslims, if they so desire, the only restrictions (other than on same sex unions) being against those already married or foreign nationals.

    • Rahul Kamath

      How does this square w/ Alex’s point about the Church not being obliged to marry divorcees. Is it simply a matter for an individual vicar though the Church itself cannot deny the sacrament? I think this is the key point. If gay marriage becomes legal and the Church as a whole refuses to adhere to this rule, then it has to be dis-established.

  • Christian Jones

    Lets apply some democracy to the problem. Ask the people what they would like the definition of marriage to be in a referendum. But no, as ever the left are scared of the answer.

    • gubulgaria

      The left wouldn’t be scared if they’d seen the opinion polls.

      • Christian Jones

        You think opinion polls reflect public opinion rather than attempt to shape it? How touchingly naive. What people will say in private as opposed to a pollster is rather different. As in the sky poll when they overwhelmingly supported BNP policies until they were told Nick Griffin wrote them.

    • tember2

      The same argument was used by the anti-gay side in the USA, saying that no gay marriage initiative had ever passed by popular democratic vote. Then this November happened and three measures passed granting marriage equality. So be careful what you wish for.

      • Christian

        America is a far different country to this one. The average Englishman couldn’t care less what people do in their own home. In public is another matter entirely.

    • Wessex Man

      Christian Jones

      You are quite right, I feel the people should be asked in a referendum, I can’t under any circumstance be described be called of the left but I think you actually would be surprised, we are one of the most tolerant of countries in the world.

      I also believe we should have a referendum on English Independence, on the European Union and the immediate withdraw of our forces from Afghanistan.

      • Christian

        We’re so tolerant we have to terrorise people into silence with some of the most illiberal ‘hate’ laws on the planet. Yes, we certainly are tolerant.

    • David_in_Houston

      Do you really think it’s fair that 95% of the populous gets to decide the civil rights of the remaining 5%? Wouldn’t the deck be stacked against the 5%? …or is that what you’re hoping for?

      The U.S. went through this 45 years ago, with state bans on interracial marriage. Over 70% of the public supported those bans. The Supreme Court overruled the “will of the people” and ended those discriminatory laws. Had they waited until the public was less “bigoted”, it would have taken an additional 20 years for interracial couples to marry. I hardly think you’d support that alternative.

      • Christian

        I hate to break it to you but you’ve just admitted you don’t believe in democracy. Elective dictatorship maybe. The wise and the good must rule over the dumb, evil masses ay?

        • Alastair_93

          Dumb and evil certainly fits homophobes.

  • Gibbon

    Speaking for myself, I don’t really mind having my prejudices confronted, which is why I have (a) read this post and (b) ended up with a slightly different view of the world than when I started reading it. This is the pull and play of rational argument, and long may it continue.

    When the Guardian bad-mouths me as a fascist, on the other hand, I find that a little offensive. By knee-jerking to such abuse, of course, I lower myself to their level, but then we’re all human.

    • Daniel Maris

      The issue I feel is not really gay marriage. All the arguments for gay marriage seem to be focussed on personal fulfilment. Well then on what grounds do you deny people the personal fulfilment of a polygamous marriage if they feel so inclined?

      • tember2

        This has nothing to do with “gay” marriage though, it’s just a dodge. You could use the same reasoning to argue that because we allow one man and one woman to get married, who is to say that we shouldn’t allow 2 women, one man, etc. etc.? Heterosexual marriage is as much a slippery slope to polygamy as gay marriage.

  • CmdKeen

    I’ve never really understood why someone would want to be married by a priest who doesn’t want to marry them. It’s hardly going to lead to a particularly happy service.

    Divorcees being married in the CofE is currently at the discretion of the priest, which seems to be a perfectly sensible model.

    Plus I thought the ECHR had come out in favour of religious rights in the most recent cases.

    • Ali Buchan

      I suspect people would have said the same thing during apartheid and the civil rights movement. Not comparing the situations, just pointing out that groups that feel oppressed often want to confront the sources of oppression head-on.

    • Baron

      but CmdKeen, the idea isn’t that the priest will not marry anyone he doesn’t want to, the idea is that the institution of the church will not be allowed to carry on if it says no marrying gays. The catholic adoption agencies were forced to close for the same reason, in a world of absolute equality there ain’t a room for any institution, but one that facilitates the dogma of equality.

      Not that it matters, the followers of Allah will soon have a bigger say.

      • andagain

        Really? They are going to ban the Catholic church? Somehow, that seems less than likely.

        It is one thing to close an adoption agency. Quite another to close every Catholic church in the country.

        Although it might be quite good for the church if they tried…

    • andagain

      Divorcees being married in the CofE is currently at the discretion of the priest, which seems to be a perfectly sensible model.

      Currently gay marriage is not possible whatever the priest thinks of it. Presumably, if this change in the law occurs the CofE, Catholic Church etc will have to come up with their own policies.

  • LB

    The state should get out of the marriage business completely.

    Then, people can do what they want.

    Divorce is then treated as breach of contract, under the law.

    Expect standardised terms and conditions. For example, the catholic marriage contract, the islamic marriage contract, jewish, whatever. ….

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