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Stuart Cameron

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If/when same-sex marriage is legalised, should ALL religious bodies be required by law to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies?

So, some people may know that here in Scotland there has been a public consultation on same-sex marriage (and it's looking extremely promising!). One of the questions in the consultation was as follows:

"Do you agree that religious bodies should not be required to conduct same-sex marriages or civil partnerships if it is against their wishes?"

So what are your thoughts? As an abstract idea, should religion be able to have its own say? In the context of Scotland, should religion have its own say? Bearing in mind that our government is supposed to be separate from church/religion. Why?

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  • Dec 15 2011: @ Michael M (as the reply button doesn't appear to be working)

    As in my original comment I don't feel religious obligations should be forced to perform the marriage ceremony against their will, in that last post I was simply trying to clarify the argument a little. However to say civil and religious societies are separate in such a black and white fashion fails to touch on the side of the argument that I was attempting to confront which is the reason why the religious institutions are continuing not to condone the same-sex marriage.

    I'm glad I live in a country where it looks like the government has a sincere desire to move towards equality but as I remarked to a friend "You can't really have a consultation on equality, you either increase it or decrease it". From the beginning of the consultation process no-one suggested it would result in the forcing of religious bodies into performing marriages until someone opposed to same-sex marriage exclaimed that legislation (which hasn't been drafted, if it will at all) could cause this circumstance. This wasn't a problem as at first it just looked like a lot of hot air from an individual that got widely dismissed.

    The problem came when the religious bodies took a much harder stance than expected when replying to the consultation over this single individuals hot air. The issue quickly spun from a dismissal of his claims about potential "forcing" onto the concept of same-sex in general where the before mentioned hard stance has been taken.
    • Dec 15 2011: Thank Alistair for the clarification. I would suppose that a consultation would allow all parties involved to express their opinion. There are hard-liners on any issue.

      Religious institutions Alistair do not have to condone same-sex marriage, that is the point I was trying to make. They are also free to express their opinion, have their views, and base their practices on those views. A free society means just that, free. Now I am not suggesting in any form that civil government does not have the right, if it is the true feelings of those representatives to change the laws. They do not have a right to make a religious group do something that is against their belief system. That is again without destroying the separation of church and state.

      In the United States where religious ceremonies are recognized by the state, clergy are free to marry whom they wish or simply just say no. They are agents of the state, but not the state itself. Some in the US would argue that all marriages should be civil marriages only. I lived in Mexico where that was the case. Many people still celebrated a religious wedding later. I am not saying that would be the answer.

      But back to the original "required by law". I still contend that in a free society the required by law to perform an act outside of the belief system of a religious organization is wrong. In a free society people are free to associate or not with a particular religious group. The partners in a same sex marriage would be free to do the same. That is to say they would be free to seek a religious group or clergy who would perform the ceremony.

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