Below is a report by Colin Hart, Campaign Director Coalition for Marriage about recent developments regarding “same sex marriage.”
Vindication for sacked registrar:
A registrar sacked for saying she didn’t want to conduct same-sex weddings has been reinstated on appeal. Margaret Jones was accused of “gross misconduct” and “bringing the council into disrepute” despite her being willing to deal with related administrative tasks.
Her appeal was upheld unanimously by a panel who decided that the council had not fully investigated ways of accommodating Margaret’s religious beliefs. They also found evidence that in other cases arrangements had been made to “accommodate individual staff situations”.
Huge support for threatened bakers:
In July there was news of a family-run bakery in Northern Ireland being threatened with legal action for refusing to decorate a gay marriage campaign cake.
There has been overwhelming public support for the bakers. A ComRes poll of over 2000 British adults found that 60 per cent agree it was “disproportionately heavy-handed” for the Northern Ireland Equality Commission to seek to take the bakery to court.
The McArthur family, who own Ashers Baking Company, said they could not fulfil the order because of their conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman. The taxpayer-funded Equality Commission later sent a letter claiming that the company had acted unlawfully and said they’ll be sued unless they change their stance.
No gay marriage stampede
Despite the media fanfare there were only 1,409 same-sex marriages in the three months from March 29. In December this year it becomes possible to convert a civil partnership into a same-sex marriage. We will wait to see how many of the 60,000 partnerships become ‘marriages’.
Schools forced to promote gay marriage under new Govt rules
The Government has previously published very helpful guidance to protect the position of parents, pupils and teachers who believe in traditional marriage. New regulations threaten to undo all this good work.
Academies, free schools and independent schools in England will all be affected by proposed new Government standards. They will now be required to ‘actively promote’ the rights defined in the Equality Act 2010, which would include same-sex marriage.
The Department for Education (DfE) claims anti-extremism measures promote ‘British values’ and are required in the wake of the recent ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal. But it is difficult to see how promoting same-sex marriage addresses extremist ideology of the sort seen in Birmingham. The Government has made the mistake of equating ‘British values’ with political correctness.
The Association of School and College Leaders have also warned that the plans are rushed and could limit free speech with teachers becoming reluctant to discuss controversial topics.
Good news from abroad:
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that there is no human right to same-sex marriage. The judgment says that European human rights law recognises the “fundamental right of a man and woman to marry and to found a family” and “enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman”.
In June this year Slovakia amended its constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. It joins Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belarus and Estonia in having constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
A federal court judge has ruled that the United States constitution does not stop the state of Louisiana from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This is the third federal judge to rule that traditional marriage laws are not unconstitutional. At the end of August, the US Supreme Court unanimously delayed same-sex marriages taking place in Virginia.