Not even the most determined supporter of the proposal to recognise gay marriage can have been impressed by the way the Government has managed the issue. Like the outcome or not, it is impossible to disagree with the comment of the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark that the public consultation exercise was “shambolic”.
Even after the consultation had taken place, the Government was amending its own proposals concerning the exemptions to be granted to religious institutions ”“ moving the goalposts, as it were, after the penalty kick had been taken. It is hardly surprising that even those who no longer want marriage confined to heterosexuals were alarmed to discover that the Government was now proposing to enshrine that discrimination, where religious bodies were concerned, in statute law.
Intended as concessions to mollify religious objections, these proposals amount to the reassertion of full parliamentary control in this respect over the worship and doctrine of the Church of England and the (Anglican) Church in Wales, for safeguards granted by Parliament today may be withdrawn by Parliament tomorrow.