Earlier today one of Northern Ireland’s (or at least Stephen Nolan’s) top political commentators David Vance tweeted.
Seeking to impose “Gay Marriage” on Churches is the act of an [sic] bullying State. It also smacks of rampant intolerance, ironically.
Well if the state were going to impose something that some churches are opposed to unto them then I would agree. But of course that is not what is happening, in England and Wales they are looking at introducing civil equal marriage, in Scotland they are looking at expanding it to faith groups by allowing those that want to do so.
However, in light of the this being on the same day that the established Church of England says that allowing equality in civil-marriage is a threat to the very establishment of that Church, you have to ask who is the bully, who is intolerant.
The established state of the Church of England makes it the only faith group as of right that has representation in the legislature of this country. Chief Rabbi’s have been afforded similar positions but this is behest of the Government of the day not some divine right.
Since the middle of the 19th Century all the non-conformists (ie non-Anglican) people in these islands have been treated equally. Something that the Church of England with its authoritarian and state recognised position gave up reluctantly. For example Presbyterians here in Northern Ireland still had to pay a tithe to the local Church of Ireland.
So even if the remit wasn’t restricted, in the England and Wales consultation, to merely civil marriage what about the other faith groups? They don’t have a seat (or rather seats) at the heart of Government, but they are restricted from performing same-sex marriages even if they wish to do so. Some of these like the Quakers and Unitarians have suffered under the intolerance of the Church of England in the past.
Maybe a contrary tweet to David’s should read:
Seeking not to allow “Equal Marriage” for faith groups that wish to do so is the act of a bullying established Church. It also smacks of rampant intolerance, ironically.
You then also have a commentator on ConservativeHome who seems to claim that the only reason to do something is to retain votes saying that equal marriage is not that. Thankfully the Lib Dems didn’t take that attitude in 2010 or who knows what state the nation doing the right thing can hurt in the ballot box, it doesn’t make it any less right.