Guest post by Alan Renwick, Reader in Comparative Politics, University of Reading @alanjrenwick
Confused about the Church of England’s arguments concerning same-sex marriage? Here is a brilliant executive summary which which knows how to read between the lines.
Alan Renwick posted his thoughts on Facebook this morning and has kindly agreed to share his observations on my blog in order to make them more widely available.
Alan Renwick writes:
1. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman. But we are not opposed to change as such, just change that is damaging to society (paragraph 8). So we acknowledge it’s not a good argument just to say that same-sex marriage goes against tradition.
2. There is a “fundamental complementarity” between men and women (e.g., paragraph 13). The only concrete way we can find to justify this statement is that a man and a woman are needed for procreation (paragraph 10). We somehow think that this means we can exclude same-sex couples from marriage but not opposite-sex couples that just as clearly cannot procreate. We don’t think we need to justify this mysterious logical leap.
3. We are not horrible people, as can be seen from the fact that our bishops supported the Civil Partnerships Bill in the Lords in 2004. At any rate, we will assert this and hope that no one notices that in fact six of the seven bishops present supported a wrecking amendment on 24 June 2004 designed to destroy that Bill. We will maintain the claim even though Iain McLean pointed out its falsehood in the Guardian last month.
4. If this legislation is passed, the European Court of Human Rights might rule that the CofE and other religious institutions are obliged to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. At least, we will write rather a lot (annex, paragraphs 26–44) that is likely to be reported by journalists as suggesting this danger. But actually we acknowledge that there is no reason to think the Court would require any religious organization to solemnize same-sex marriages (annex paragraph 36). All it might require is that religious organizations that want to solemnize such marriages should be able to do so (annex paragraph 37). We actually believe in religious freedom only for ourselves, so this prospect sends us into a frightful tizzy.
Anyone wishing to submit their own views to the consultation has until Thursday 14th June to do so.