Coffee House

Maria Miller unveils ‘quadruple lock’ to protect churches from gay marriage court actions

11 December 2012

Maria Miller sought to assuage the fears of her backbench colleagues about the government’s plans for gay marriage today by announcing a ‘quadruple lock’ to prevent any religious leader being forced into conducting a same-sex wedding against their will. Her statement to the House of Commons was particularly focused on concerns about the effect on the Church of England, which has said it does not want to marry gay couples.

The quadruple lock consists of the following measures:

1. The legislation states that neither religious organisations as a whole nor individual ministers will be forced to hold same-sex weddings on their premises.

2. Miller will amend the Equalities Act so that no discrimination claims can be brought against religious organisations who refuse to conduct gay marriages.


3. Religious organisations who do support gay marriage can opt-in, and then their individual ministers will also then need to opt-in before they can conduct the ceremonies.

4. The legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Church of England and Wales to marry same sex couple: Miller told the Commons that the CofE had already said that it did not want to carry out same-sex partnerships.

She later told one MP that case law had put it ‘beyond doubt’ that there would not be court action against a church.

Although Miller herself supports the legislation, and clearly believes that this quadruple lock will satisfy the test for MPs that introducing gay marriage will lead to a situation where a vicar is forced by a court to marry a gay couple, she took care as she answered questions from MPs not to criticise those who expressed their opposition. She told Stephen Gilbert, who criticised opponents for making a fuss about the proposals, that she understood opponents’ concerns, saying:

‘I understand the sentiments of my honourable friend’s comments. I do understand, however, what the fuss is about, because I think people do have deep-seated religious convictions, they have deep-seated beliefs, and I do think that we need to make sure that if we go forward successfully with these measures, that our respect is clear.’

She also told Chris Bryant, a former CofE vicar himself, that the Church could if it wished to change its position on gay marriage and that primary legislation could in the future enable the CofE to conduct same sex marriages if the position changed. She added that she expected he would continue to lobby his former employer on the matter.

It was interesting that the responses from MPs opposed to gay marriage largely centred on their implacable opposition to the whole idea, rather than their fears about the implications of the changes for vicars. As Nick Herbert praised Miller for her statement and told the Commons that the changes proposed commanded widespread support across the country, Peter Bone shouted ‘no, it doesn’t!’. Matthew Offord later repeated his polygamy argument, while Laurence Robertson said many people were ‘deeply offended’ by the proposals. In each instance, Miller sought to be respectful.

For many of the MPs who made hostile points in this afternoon’s debate, it is unlikely that they will change their mind and support the legislation as a result of the Secretary of State’s announcement. But there are others who are undecided and who were waiting for reassurances along the lines of the ‘quadruple lock’, who may well find it a great deal easier to make up their minds.

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  • triscan

    I thought that there couldn’t be a more dishonest manipulative government than the last Labour one but I was wrong! We are told that the result of the consultation on same sex marriage was 52% for, based on the response of approximately 230,000 UK, foreign and multiple votes whilst totally ignoring the 500,000 who signed the petition from the Coalition for Marriage and the many polls showing a substantial majority against! Equalities Minister Maria Miller vowed to fast-track plans to legalise gay marriage, saying the change was needed to keep the institution of marriage ‘vibrant and relevant to society’, who writes her stuff, Enid Blyton?

  • Theodoxia

    Maria Miller’s assurances are worth nothing, as we have surrendered our sovereignty to a foreign power. The well-organised and aggressive lobby of homosexual activists will lose no time in making sure that European rulers set aside whatever feeble safeguards this government pretends to put in place.

  • Andrew Fairhead

    Please can someone explain why a)if this proposal is a natural thing, as the marriage of a man and woman is and has been since year dot, there has to be a law to legitimise it? and b) how do two people of the same sex pro-create, as was the original intention for a man and woman within marriage, and still is? and c)what effect will it have on children, who might be brought up in such an arrangement, in later life? d)If the Anglican Church stands for Christianity, why is it not more vocal, and indeed crying out against this?
    What has happened to us? What is happening to us?

    • Richard Gadsden

      “if this proposal is a natural thing, as the marriage of a man and woman is and has been since year dot, there has to be a law to legitimise it?”

      Marriage is a legal status, not a natural thing. Relationships are natural. Cohabitation is natural. Love is natural. Marriages are artificial things created by law. That’s why they have to be changed by law.

      “how do two people of the same sex pro-create, as was the original intention for a man and woman within marriage, and still is?”

      On what basis do you make the claim that this was the intention for a marriage. When did marriages start? Who had this intention? Where is your historical evidence. Certainly there were plenty of marriages without that intention two thousand years ago – Catullus spends a load of time complaining about them.

      “what effect will it have on children, who might be brought up in such an arrangement, in later life?”

      The evidence is that, in regions where they do not face discrimination as a result of their parents’ sexuality, children raised by two adults in a stable relationship do about as well educationally and socially regardless of the sex of those adults.

      “If the Anglican Church stands for Christianity, why is it not more vocal, and indeed crying out against this?”

      It is. It’s in a minority and is losing.

      What right do you have to stop Quakers marrying whoever they choose?

  • Fergus Pickering

    If I hear any more about this I think I’ll die of boredom.

    • TomTom

      Go ahead – relieve the boredom for the rest of us !

    • HooksLaw

      Let the bigots howl.

      • Colonel Mustard

        You are the one howling you silly man. Almost as tedious as telemachus in your ranting.

        People are entitled to their opinions OK? They don’t need you to conduct psychological profiling on them.

  • Charlie

    A quadruple lock? Is that more or less than a cast iron commitment?

  • Magnolia

    Gay marriage has nothing to do with equality or even gay rights but everything to do with the destruction of the power of the Church of England, by the government for its own ends. When our bad boy monarch Henry VIII destroyed the churches in order to grab their wealth, he used the power that it gave him to defend dear old England.
    Do our current masters have such noble aims or are their allegiances elsewhere?

    • HooksLaw

      A pathetic rant (you are in good company) but absolutely no basis in fact.

      • Magnolia

        He built the Mary Rose and got rid of the foreign Pope’s power from within England.
        That looks to be pretty defensive of the nation’s interests to me.

  • Anon

    Speaking as a Conservative and a Homosexual I do not support Same Sex Marriage. Not a popular thing to say in Gay circles, but a valid point of view. Marriage is a sacrament of the Church and it is the State that has sought to nationalise it. The state, therefore, has no right to try and define marriage and dictate the doctrine of the Church. A far simpler solution would have been for marriage to have been handed back to the Church and all civil weddings to have been called ‘Civil Partnerships’.

    • TomTom

      The latter idea has merit. The issue arises solely because Blair & Co chose to create Civil Partnerships for Homosexuals only because they feared Brothers and Sisters forming Civil Partnerships so they applied Marriage Rules on Consanguinity to Civil Partnerships. This is the ludicrous situation that they have created……it seems unlikely that laws on incest and consanguinity can stand much longer. ……………..Provisions of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 also prohibited a person
      forming a civil partnership with the former civil partner of his son
      while his son and the son’s mother are still alive, although these
      provisions have not been commenced……………………

    • MirthaTidville

      Which would have been an almost complete solution and I support your views Anon. Well said.

    • HooksLaw

      What has ‘marriage’ got to do with religion. It legalises the bringing up of children and has numerous moral benefits. In the absence of children it still legalises two people living together. As such it is to be commended.

      You are of course perfectly entitled not to support gay marriage and indeed i am glad you do not, because I think it is not particularly needed. However I fail to see much difference between marriage and civil partnerships.

      But overwhelmingly what marriage signifies is commitment. And where two men for instance love each other and wish to share a commitment then I suggest to the loony tunes they get a life and leave others to run their own.

      • ButcombeMan

        “Looney tunes”?

        Bigotry against perfectly respectable people, some even homosexuals, who see things rather differrently. Because you cannot see the differrence does not mean there is NO differrence.


    • Richard Gadsden

      I’d be happy with that. Anyone could call themselves married, or not, as they chose – it wouldn’t make any difference in law. The legal status would be of a civil partnership, and anyone marrying in church would have to go to the registry office and register their civil partnership too.

      Of course, gay people would still call themselves married. And lots of churches would conduct religious marriages for them.

      • TomTom

        Actually what is going to happen is that Churches are going to lose the right to marry couples. This is where England will become like Germany or Russia and the State will dictate everything….only Muslims will ignore them and simply marry in the mosque as many times as they wish – four isn’t it ?

        • Richard Gadsden

          In France, Catholic marriages have not been recognised by the state for more than two centuries.

          People still get married in church – they just go to the Hotel de Ville to be married by the mayor first!

          But I doubt that we will go down that road. We’ve held the line on divorcés and divorcées marrying in church (except for those churches that permit it) for 43 years since the Divorce Reform Act. Most remarriages are still civil ceremonies, including the marriage of our future King.

          But if we do separate religious marriage from civil marriage, then there will be people that the church says can marry that the state rejects (e.g. someone with a Catholic annulment but no state divorce) as well as the reverse. The church can conduct those marriages without state sanction – why should the mosque be stopped from conducting religious polygamous marriages without state sanction?

          • TomTom

            Prince Charles is not married. Royal Family cannot marry in a register office whatever Blair’s friend and former employer may have asserted. ” the Marriage Act of 1836, which specifically prohibited Royals from
            marrying in register offices, and the 1949 Marriage Act which, according
            to every Government until Tony Blair became Prime Minister, left the
            position unchanged.
            Lord Falconer rejected previous views, however,
            as ‘too cautious’.”The Legal Opinion of Lord Falconer is under Time Seal until AFTER Charles dies…….funny that !

            • Guest

              Prince Charles didn’t marry in a register office.

            • Richard Gadsden

              Members of the royal family do not marry under statute law, but under the consent of the crown. Which was granted.

      • ButcombeMan

        Homosexuals cannot BE married. That is not what the word means. It has a biological basis. which cannot be overcome by any amount of Cameron “Newspeak”.

        The man is a fool, he is alienating his core support, much of it, he is alienating a huge Moslem and other ethnic population.

        On this issue and on others, he is being careless with the Conservative party and consigning it to electoral oblivion.

        For UKIP, as someone here said a while back, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

        • Richard Gadsden

          Words mean whatever people understand by them.

          Everyone knows what gay marriage means.

          Therefore gay people can be married.

          If you want to speak a language where there’s an official authority that tells people what words mean, then j’ai hâte de vous voir en France.

          • ButcombeMan

            “Everyone” does not know, cannot know that.

            Not in the UK

            noun 1the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife:

            It is redefinition of the meaning of the word that the argument is about.

            “Marriage” cannot happen between people of the same sex, they can live together as “partners” just as men & women can. They can live togther as companions, just as men and women can They cannot currently BE married not should they be.

            It is right that the State recognizes homesexual partnerships.

            But “husband” & “wife” just cannot exist in a homosexual union. Even should Cameron get his way, very many people, especially some of the racial minorities will not accept Cameron’s “newspeak”.n Nor should they. The word “marriage” is not within a (temporary) politicians gift to re-define.

            Your last sentence is laughable and shows your lack of plain common sense. Telling you and me, what the word “marriage” means, is precisely what Cameron has set about doing.

            I refsue to accept his diktat, so should you.

            Cameron has once again, made a very big error of judgement.

            • Richard Gadsden

              The purpose of language is to convey meaning. Do you know what is meant by a same-sex marriage?

              You clearly believe that it is different from a different-sex marriage. Fine. There are plenty of words that are used for multiple different things.

              If a man introduced someone as his “husband”, would you know what he meant? Then it means that

              The argument you are trying to make from language is just silly. Definitions are not exclusive – when a dictionary says that a word means X, then what it means is “a significant number of people use this word to mean X”.

              English has always worked like this; it’s one of the reasons that our language is so successful – anyone can just start using a word how they like, and if other people understand them and follow their usage, then it will get into the dictionary.

              This isn’t a diktat to change language; it’s just a new, additional meaning for a word. Like computer was a new meaning for an old word in 1945.

            • Alastair_93

              Gay people can get married. It’s already legal in roughly a dozen countries. You just change the wording of ‘marriage'; it’s happened before, and it will happen again.

              The Church of England was founded on the idea of re-defining marriage. This is the supreme irony of the situation.

    • Alastair_93

      Marriage has nothing to do with the church. Marriage pre-dates Christianity, and exists in non-Christian countries.

  • Terence Hale

    Same Sex marriage (SS marriage). How not to make a law. The proposed law presents problems. Not addressing the “can of worms” regarding SS marriage it is the in discrepancy with existing law that’s the problem. The tax law, marriage law, inheritance law, pension law, Mormons, and and.The law proposes an opt-out clause for those institution who do not wish to perform such SS marriage which just make the process a business for those who do. The sociological affect of such a law would be one step to a generically made up family ordering your children from the “sperm and egg shop”. Historically I thick a gentleman with a moustache under his nose tried such.

  • Davidh

    Wonderful. This is a defining issue for conservatives. It separates those who are on the right because of their instinct for personal freedom and responsibility from those small-minded and insecure conservatives who would use politics to enforce their own narrow morality. This is the perfect right-wing equality legislation. It doesn’t enforce equality with quotas or preferential treatment, it simply allows everybody to fulfill their own ambitions within the same framework.

    • MagicAldo

      Looks like you need to some reading on what is “conservative”. A belief in personal liberty is not the defining characteristic.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Don’t go by the left-wing skewed definition of conservatism on Wiki or any other leftist propaganda on the subject. The nature of the leftist mind means it is inherently impossible for it to understand conservatism in other than pejorative inanities.

        • TomTom

          It is all to do with Boundaries and the Infantile Mindset

        • MirthaTidville

          “The nature of the leftist mind means it is inherently impossible for it to understand conservatism “….which very neatly describes the Cameroons

      • Davidh

        Surely there are quite a few ideas that define what is “conservative”. And the meaning, like any word, will evolve with usage. A belief in a small state and the primacy of individuals over society would seem to be big in what most people think of as “conservative”. Also a belief in tradition and resistance to change – which obviously would count against gay marriage, not for. Don’t fix something if it ain’t broke, for sure, but that shouldn’t prevent us making bold moves when called to stand up for our core values. This is such a case.

        • TomTom

          Small State ? You jest ! We have Leviathan – an All-Consuming State devouring Capital and People in its Juggernaut approach to Total Power

          • Davidh

            We do indeed. And what choice are voters ever given about that? Supposedly left or right. Blair, Brown or Cameron. It’s all the same spend, spend, spend. But we change the topic…

            • TomTom

              Time to smash The State before it enslaves all

        • HooksLaw

          Conservatives move with the times and are a broad based mainstream movement. One thing is sure the people you are arguing with are not Conservative in any sense. They are Bigots with a capital B.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Bollocks. That is what you and all the other leftist cuckoos would like them to be. Show some honesty for once – join the Labour party.

            You are well on the way to de-valuing the word bigot as you have done for racist.

            What about C for . . . . in your case?

          • ButcombeMan

            Yet again you name call your opponents. You need to seek some help in thinking.

  • Desperate Dan

    Responding to her statement in the H of C, MPs kept asking Maria Miller why the Consultation had ignored the opponents of the proposed change and she kept saying that the Consultation had never been about the pros and cons of the change but on how to best implement the change which had already been decided despite lack of mandate.

    Nobody in the Chamber seems to have noticed this admission, outrageous though most in the TV audience must have found it.

    • Richard Gadsden

      “Admission”? It said that on the first page of the consultation document. It’s hardly an admission when you do what you said you were going to do in the first place!

  • Duke of Earl

    I will restate my point that the govt has no place deciding who can or can’t marry anyone else. We are all adults and can make our own decisions. I’d even go as far as removing the ban on polygamy.
    It irks me when friends on the right argue for economic freedoms while wanting to impose their social views on everyone else. We should be free to chose as we please, without the state dictating our values.
    If you value freedom, value it in all it’s guises. Not just when it’s agreeable to you.

    • MagicAldo

      Your Grace, your opinions make you a “liberal”, not a “conservative”. “Economic freedom” is not the defining characteristic of a conservative political philosophy. You have every right to your views, of course. But you should acknowledge that those who hold to “conservative” positions on this topic, are of a fundamentally different political philosophy than yourself. Perhaps we should support different parties?

      • Duke of Earl

        I never said I was a Conservative (though i vote for them) and think of myself as a classical liberal/libertarian. Unfortunately both the Lib Dems and Tories are statist to some degree, and never take consistent positions on anything so I don’t really have a party that’s in line with my views.
        I am definitely not statist though hence the position I’m taking. Oddly enough, I’m not for gay marriage. I just don’t think it should be up to me or others who disagree to impose our wishes.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Then you should accept that it shouldn’t be up to gays to impose their wishes on unwilling priests/churches. Otherwise your liberalism is partisan (as it usually is when the surface is scratched).

          • Duke of Earl

            Nice straw man. I’m very very consistent with this and will go as far as scrapping the equalities act (I’m black and I’ve probably benefited from it) and allow people to discriminate as they please.
            Again it’s not up to the state or any pressure group to force the Church to marry gay people, and the church should be free not to do so.
            Don’t assume I’m taking some wishy-washy leftist position. My starting position on absolutely everything is freedom for the individual.

          • HooksLaw

            Who says gays are imposing their views on churches?

            • Colonel Mustard

              Oh, belt up and RTFP. Fed up with you and your foul mouthed rants against anyone who disagrees with you.

            • TomTom

              What is being said is that Gays should NOT BE PERMITTED to impose any view on Churches. Who cares what they think they can do – the simple fact is that The State should be dismantled and reduced to a level people are prepared to pay taxes for rather than Leviathan printing its own money and stealing everyone else’s assets

        • MirthaTidville

          `You are a classical liberal/libertarian`……….well you will fit right in with Cameron and his merry mob

          • Duke of Earl

            Cameron/Osborne as liberal/libertarian? Don’t make me laugh.
            My litmus test for a libertarian -they are in favour of binning the NHS and would legalise drugs/prostitution. Both are positions this govt will never take.

    • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

      I will restate my point that the govt has no place deciding who can or can’t marry anyone else.

      Then why in thinking up this legislation are they doing exactly that?

      • Colonel Mustard


      • Duke of Earl

        It’s because there’s a law explicitly banning it. Either they repeal that, amend it, or pass a law that allows for it.
        Marriage should be a legal contract and I’m not sure why it’s the State’s business who anyone enters into relationships with.

        • TomTom

          Legal Contract is an interesting idea, but in this matter the Contract is amended by external legislation subsequent to the contract being agreed. That is peculiar because the contract is not complete in itself but subject to every court ruling and act of legislation which changes the original contract

  • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

    This is all very well but has the Government come clean on how it proposes to address the consummation consideration? After all you know what Boris said about ‘Three men and their dog”….?

    Miller on TV coming over lid a sad little college basketball cheerleader…..

    • TomTom

      They will change Divorce Laws too

  • Colonel Mustard

    Whilst I welcome the assurances I have no confidence they will or could be sustained – or that the militant tendency will not to continue to push to get their own way by any means possible.

    The EU precedent of “We don’t like the result of the democratic vote so we are going to fight it and overturn it” was very rapidly deployed after the women Bishops issue. Minority pressure groups have learned how to coerce and wield power and will continue to do so – on Marcusean grounds.

  • Edward Sutherland

    Bye, Bye Conservative Party; I’ve resigned my memebrship, so don’t bother calling round at the next Euro elections, or the 2015 general election- and no, I won’t be delivering any more of your bloody leaflets or attending your meetings. I wish you well with your new-found admirers from the Guardian and Independent readership.

    • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

      The bad news is you will probably receive beeging letters from CCHQ for years to come. Clearly CCHQ do not understand that ‘no’ means ‘NO’!

      • Edward Sutherland

        William Blakes Ghost: In the past week or so I’ve already had to reply, ever so politely, to both David Cameron and Lord Fink informing them that I’d resigned from the party, so requests for financial support were inappropriate, and that they really did need to ensure their membership records were up-to-date. I can see this is going to cost me a small fortune in postage!

        • TomTom

          Send it without a stamp so they pay postage plus £1 penalty

    • EJ

      Sorry Hardman et al – much as the students at the Speccie are trying to throw their weight behind the trendy metropolitan pro-gay marriage thought police, this is the final nail in the coffin for the Cameroonians. Like Edward Sutherland above, grass roots Conservatives across the land will abandon the party that so clearly despises their opinions.

      And why still no mention of the results of today’s census which show that white Britons are now a minority in London for the first time in history?

      • telemachus

        I am reliably informrmed that most immigrants are heterosexuals
        Most also consummate relationships before marriage

        • The_Missing_Think

          Telemachus… is it coz we izz “mongrel”, that you want us outnumbered with “thourghbreds”…?

          Have you a list of “thourghbreds” handy, or does it just read, ‘not whites’?

          • telemachus

            I think you ably make my point
            Origins, colour, ethnicity and religion do not matter
            We are the true melting pot now and like the US poised to take off economically when Ed Balls releases us from the Osborne Austerity Straightjacket

            • The_Missing_Think

              Then your thinking is factually wrong.

              And if “Origins, colour, ethnicity and religion do not matter”, why the race industry, that never prosecutes non-whites?

    • HooksLaw

      One less bigot in the Conservative party.

      • davey12

        This will be the last ever conservative government. Once Tories realise that people like me will never vote Tory again. They will realise with the current demographics that the Tory party is finished.

        Labour and more immigration is the future.

      • Edward Sutherland

        Hooks Law: Really? Until recently I was an equity partner in a London law firm. As far as I can recall at least four of my fellow partners were gays and I don’t believe any of them found me other than fully supportive and sympathetic in partnership and personal matters.Two of my neighbours across the road are a gay couple, one of whom is not at all well. Both my wife and I have taken/visited him in hospital when he’s been in for dyalisis/ transplant. Have a care before you fling out unfounded slurs about ‘fewer’ bigots in the Conservative Party.

        • Chris

          Because someone, anyone, is against redefinition of what the word and act of marriage means, that does not make them a bigot nor does it make them unsuportive of homsexual partnerships.

          Miller seems to think all objections are all based on religion, they are not.

          That is where Cameron and Miler have both gone wrong.

      • TomTom

        You and Cameron will soon be alone……..should get together in some form of mutually-adoring relationship !

      • Kevin

        I assumed from his comment that he would be pro-, not anti-Christian.

  • Adrian Drummond

    It still is an intellectually flawed idea, irrespective of one’s views on religion and homosexuality.

    • telemachus

      Too many column inches on this non story
      Only of interest to those gleeful at the Tories being rent assunder
      Oh and the UKIP Vicar

      • TomTom

        Tories ? you are a peculiar little troll. This is how nations are rent asunder….you have no idea how near Europe – let alone Britain – is to breaking up in ways that only Yugoslavia – can relate

        • telemachus

          No despite 7.5 million residents not born here we are the most cohesive society in the world

  • Daniel Maris

    There isn’t a lock in the land that a nefarious judge can’t pick.

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