Category : –Civil Unions & Partnerships
(ENS) TEC Diocesan bishops who blocked same-sex marriages take reluctant first steps toward allowing ceremonies
(AI) Anglicans in SE Asia breaks with the C of E Diocese of Lichfield over their embrace of the new sexual morality
Many of you will be aware of – and hopefully attending – our ‘Intentional Discipleship: East Meets West’ event across the Diocese from 11-15 July. We would like to update you about some developments concerning the gatherings for your information. We have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Province of South East Asia and were very much looking forward to welcoming all four of its dioceses: West Malaysia, Kuching, Singapore and Sabah, to the event, which was due to culminate in the renewal of our partnership agreements with each diocese. However, we are sad that the four dioceses have now informed us that they will not renew the partnership agreements, and that Singapore and Sabah dioceses have decided to withdraw their participation from the whole event. This is because they have concerns about our recent ad clerum on Welcoming and Honouring LGBT+ People. We respect their decision and their concerns which are held with integrity.
Back when Massachusetts was the only state in the country to recognize same-sex marriage, Chai Feldblum, who later served as commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under both Presidents Obama and Trump, observed that religious liberty and LGBT rights were trapped in a “zero-sum game.” In her view, any pretense to mutually beneficial compromise between the two is impossible, and state neutrality between them a charade. As long as religious conservatives hold same-sex sexual behavior to be morally suspect while cultural liberals hold it to be natural and moral, every action and inaction of the state is a choice to recognize one side against the other. While classical liberals may want to wish this conflict away, it cannot be done. Appeals to First Amendment rights to religious liberty run immediately into Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection. And as the great theorist of class struggle Karl Marx himself observed, “between equal rights force decides.”
Culture wars are never strictly cultural. They are always economic and political struggles as well. Elites rule through an interlocking political-economic-cultural system. The mainstream media certifies whose political ideas are respectable and whose are extremist. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, academia, and white-shoe professional firms are all part of the postindustrial “knowledge economy” that allocates economic rewards. As American elites become increasingly integrated and culturally homogenous, they begin to treat their cultural rivals as subordinate classes. The same thing happened nearly a century ago to the rural and small-town Protestants whom H. L. Mencken derided as the “booboisie.” Many would like to see it happen again, this time to anyone who challenges the dogmas of diversity and progressivism that have become suspiciously universal among the richest and most powerful Americans, dominating the elite institutions they control. If cultural traditionalists want to survive, they must not only acknowledge but embrace the class dimensions of the culture war.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
After hours of sometimes wrenching testimony and debate, a General Convention committee has approved a revision of Resolution B012 that would ensure same-sex marriage rites are available throughout the Episcopal Church while postponing the emotional issue of adding the rites to the Book of Common Prayer.
The resolution revokes the authority of eight bishops to say whether same-sex marriage will be permitted in their dioceses.
It states: “Resolved, that all congregations and worshipping communities of the Church who desire to incorporate these liturgies into their common life … where permitted by civil law, shall have access to these liturgies, allowing all couples to be married in their home church.”
The resolution extends the trial use period that was mandated by the 2015 General Convention indefinitely, and specifies that the same-sex marriage rites should be considered as part of the comprehensive prayer book review that the same committee has also recommended.
In the year 2000, two-thirds, 67 per cent, of religious marriages were Anglican (Church of England or Church in Wales), 12 per cent Roman Catholic, 18 per cent Other Christian, and 3 per cent other religions.
In 2015 these percentages were, respectively, 73 per cent, 11 per cent, 11 per cent and 5 per cent.The declining number of “Other Christian” marriages (in numerical terms, down three-fifths, 61 per cent), reflects the ageing factor in some of these denominations, especially Methodists and the URC, as fewer older people get married.
However, the fact that these percentages have not varied substantially means that the smaller number of religious marriages now taking place simply mirrors the smaller number of marriages generally: the number of marriages in England and Wales have been declining since 1970 (439,000 in 1970, 215,000 in 2015). The proportion cohabiting instead has increased.
Do religious couples cohabit before marriage?Yes, cohabiting prior to marriage is now extremely common for both civil and religious couples.American research found 65 per cent agreed it was a good idea to live with one another before getting married (88 per cent non-Christian, 41 per cent practising Christian, but only 6 per cent evangelicals).
Seven-eighths, 88 per cent, had previously cohabited when they married in 2015, according to ONS figures (90 per cent civil marriages, 81 per cent religious marriages).Cohabitation preceded marriage for 80 per cent of civil marriages in 1995.v
Read it all (subscription needed).
The Church of England has got itself into a mess as usual with regard to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships.
Having opposed civil partnerships from their inception, some church leaders later supported them for what looked like strategic, ecclesiastical reasons. They could be used to support the Church of England’s own holding position.
The Church of England was saying to homosexuals: ‘We cannot go as far as giving you marriage, but we can give you civil partnerships with a few quiet prayers (psst, just don’t tell the traditionalists). Now go away, dear, and be grateful’.
At the same time, it was saying to traditional believers in a more peremptory manner: ‘We have not changed the teaching of the Church. There’s nothing going on here. Now go away and be grateful.’
But it was always pretty obvious that Church leaders were at odds over teaching on homosexuality. The parallels with the Brexit process are extraordinary. We have also seen the tortuous efforts of Theresa May to kick the can down the road, thereby avoiding crisis after crisis. This is paralleled by the ‘good disagreement’ process that aims to delay the most divisive of decisions for as long as possible.
Presumably, it is thought that the combatants will be on life support by the time the decision must finally be taken.
The Supreme Court has now judged that civil partnerships are discriminatory because they are only on offer to homosexuals and not others. The Government is consulting over whether to abolish civil partnerships or open them up to heterosexuals.
In my view civil partnerships do not have to be sexual relationships so they should be opened up to other kind of relationships in which people live together for long-term companionship, such as brothers and sisters. This was argued by traditionalists in the 1990s when civil partnerships were first mooted.
But this means that it is no longer possible for the Church of England to pretend that civil partnerships can be used to put homosexual relationships into a separate but equal category. The Church of England’s room for compromise is reducing uncomfortably.
It can either stick with traditional teaching and hold up marriage between a man and a woman as the Christian model for relationships. Or it can follow other liberal churches to a more permissive and progressive view of marriage, which includes homosexual couples.
Either of these options would result in a more honest Church. After all, if the Church goes with the zeitgeist at least homosexuals would know they are not being patronised and lied to any longer and traditional believers could make their own choices. Conversely, if the Church is faithful to its teachings then that would be a healthy, honest, decent and loving outcome to the debate.
–from the Church of England Newpaper, July 6, 2018, edition, page 20 (subscriptions encouraged)
On Wednesday, Britain’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that heterosexual couples should not be banned from entering civil partnerships and that making them only available to same-sex couples is discriminatory and “incompatible” with human rights laws.
The decision comes after Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, a British couple who objected to the traditional institution of marriage because of its “patriarchal nature,” fought a legal campaign for years, according to Reuters.
Though the ruling does not require the British government to change the law, supporters are hopeful that the decision could pave the way for more legalized heterosexual civil partnerships.
— Dr Rebecca Steinfeld (@beccasteinfeld) June 27, 2018
One thing the couple shares is their faith, a theme that has remained constant throughout their relationship.
“I prayed really hard when we first got together,” Blount said.
Smith was raised Pentecostal, and Blount grew up Southern Baptist, but both converted to Catholicism later in life. Though Blount jokingly refers to himself and Smith as “lazy sinners” who don’t go to church as much as they should, their faith is something they both value.
In fact, Blount believes it’s their duty as a religious couple to show everyone that God is love and what they have together is love.
“I think Christianity sometimes had a bad reputation,” Blount said. “Christianity is love, and, bless our hearts, we don’t always show it.”
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
If those playing down the importance of the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling are wrong, those overstating it are also off base. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane claimed that “it’s a shorter walk than we think, particularly today, from ‘I won’t bake them a cake because they’re gay’ to ‘I won’t seat him here because he’s black.’ ” This wildly mischaracterizes Mr. Phillips’s position. The Masterpiece proprietor serves all customers, regardless of sexual orientation, but he can’t in good conscience communicate all messages or celebrate all events. He is motivated by his Christian belief that marriage unites husband and wife, not his customer’s identity.
This disagreement about the definition of marriage occurs among people of good faith motivated by honorable theological and philosophical premises, as Justice Kennedy recognized in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 same-sex-marriage decision. And as he wrote in Masterpiece, “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
That is why states should be careful not to abuse antidiscrimination policy in a way that amounts to an enforcement of an orthodoxy regarding questions about sex on which reasonable people can disagree.
Monday’s ruling won’t open the floodgates to invidious discrimination as critics imagine. But neither should we gainsay its wider applicability. The Supreme Court has said clearly that the government may not punish people because of their religious beliefs. Any generally applicable, neutral law must serve the common good, not punish those whom people in power deem to be “wicked.”
Masterpiece Cakeshop Analysis (II): Douglas Laycock and Thomas Berg–Scotus Decision not as narrow as may first appear
The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.
But a requirement of tolerance and respect, or even the avoidance of hostility, is difficult to enforce. The opponents of religious exemptions will now start doing the sorts of things done by many other government officials resisting constitutional mandates. They will seek doctrinal and rhetorical manipulations to cloak their hostility to the constitutional right, and their unequal treatment of objectors they agree with and objectors they don’t.
Those manipulations began in the state’s briefs and in the concurring and dissenting opinions. Kagan and Breyer said that the state’s discrimination could easily have been justified with a different explanation: The protected bakers would not have sold an anti-gay cake to anybody, but Phillips would sell wedding cakes to opposite-sex couples.
As Justice Neil Gorsuch explained, this reaches the preordained result by manipulating the level of generality. An “anti-gay” cake is distinguished only by what it displays on the outer surface. So the category is not cakes, or wedding cakes, but cakes with particular messages. If a same-sex couple wants a cake with two grooms, two brides, a rainbow, or any other indication of approval of same-sex marriage, that is a cake that Phillips would not sell to anybody. If they want a cake that could just as appropriately be used for an opposite-sex wedding, then at the surface, Kagan’s rationalization holds — but it is still a rationalization. Everyone would still know what is really going on: The commission agrees with the protected bakers and disagrees with Jack Phillips.
Masterpiece states an important ideal. But the Supreme Court has not been good over the years at identifying government bias or hostility that is the least bit shrouded. In a case without smoking-gun expressions of hostility, objectors will need evidence of inconsistent treatment of tester cases.
Masterpiece Cakeshop Analysis (I): Amy Howe–Opinion analysis: Court rules (narrowly) for baker in same-sex-wedding-cake case [Updated]
…the critical question of when and how Phillips’ right to exercise his religion can be limited had to be determined, Kennedy emphasized, in a proceeding that was not tainted by hostility to religion. Here, Kennedy observed, the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised” by comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. At one hearing, Kennedy stressed, commissioners repeatedly “endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.” And at a later meeting, Kennedy pointed out, one commissioner “even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.” “This sentiment,” Kennedy admonished, “is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.” Moreover, Kennedy added, the commission’s treatment of Phillips’ religious objections was at odds with its rulings in the cases of bakers who refused to create cakes “with images that conveyed disapproval of same-sex marriage.”
Here, Kennedy wrote, Phillips “was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided.” Because he did not have such a proceeding, the court concluded, the commission’s order – which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports – “must be set aside.”
But the majority left open the possibility that a future case could come out differently, particularly if the decisionmaker in the case considered religious objections neutrally and fairly. Other cases, the majority emphasized, “must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
…as Justice Neil Gorsuch notes (in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito), either all four bakers violated the Colorado anti-discrimination law, or none did. Gorsuch writes:
[T]here’s no indication the bakers actually intended to refuse service because of a customer’s protected characteristic. We know this because all of the bakers explained without contradiction that they would not sell the requested cakes to anyone, while they would sell other cakes to members of the protected class (as well as to anyone else).
As I argue in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, “Disagreement is not always discrimination.” And this is true when it comes to disagreements about same-sex marriage.
Phillips didn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation when he refused to design and bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. He didn’t take his customer’s sexual orientation into consideration at all. He declined to use his artistic abilities to create a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding because he objected to same-sex marriage, based on the common Christian belief that such partnerships (along with many other relationships—sexual and not, dyadic and larger, same-sex and opposite-sex) aren’t marital.
Nowhere need Phillips’ reasoning have even referred to the partners’ sexual orientation, much less any ideas or attitudes about gay people as a class (good or bad, explicit or not).
It wasn’t his customer’s identity that motivated Phillips at all. It is even clearer that Phillips’ reason for refusing to bake the wedding cake was not the invidious discrimination of avoiding contact with others on equal terms. As Phillips said to the same-sex couple, “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.” He sought only to avoid complicity in what he considered one distortion of marriage among others—as shown by his refusal to create divorce cakes as well.