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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 16 2011: Hmmm...I read a couple more comments and now I wonder: Why would someone in the first place wish to be married by a church, that views him/her as an outsider of said church?
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      Dec 17 2011: Exactly. Churches refuse to marry people all the time. People may simply find a minister or non-denominational officiant who wants to marry them.
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        Dec 17 2011: Hi karen, as has previously been stated in another comment, there's a difference between a clergy refusing to marry someone based on the individual merits of that couple, and the church refusing to marry a whole demographic of people. That is discrimination.
        • Dec 17 2011: Stuart
          Again you call it that, but not everyone does. Clergy refuse whole demographics all the time. Again, show me the law, the Supreme Court decision, the statue that makes it discrrimination. It is choice Stuart. And obviously so.

          You are absolutely right Karen it happens all the time depending on the clergyman and his beliefs and those of the group he belongs to.
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        Dec 17 2011: Nikolas and Karen,
        That was my question too, when I first saw this discussion...why would anyone WANT to be a part of a group who did not accept them? With further pondering, I asked the question of myself...isn't this discrimination? If church representatives are performing marriages for heterosexual couples, and refuse to perform marriages for same sex couples...that is discrimination, is it not?

        What happened in the south (USA) when laws regarding discrimination were passed? Resturants, for example, where people were served food, were required to serve ALL people, or close their doors, correct? It didn't matter what the resturant owner's personal beliefs were regarding people of color, or any other differences. Churches provide a service....marriage. Why is it ok for churches to refuse a service for SOME people because they do not agree with the sexual preference?

        Some people argue that churches have that right because of "Holy Matrimony", "dogma", " "religious freedom", "seperation of church and state" etc. All of these could be valid arguments, but when we get right down to the issue, it is discrimination against a certain group of people...those who choose same sex partners.

        Why should churches be protected from serving the people they say they love? The foundations of most churches are "Love thy neighbor"...do unto others..." Loveing means accepting, respecting people's choices IF that choice does not adversly impact other people.

        The only way same sex partners impact others (generally), is if the "others" are prejudice against same sex relationships. To reject same sex partners, and/or refuse to marry them when there is a law protecting their right to marriage (which there is in the state where I reside) is discrimination.
        • Dec 17 2011: There is a difference Colleen between the service offered. One is a commerical service a restaurant, the other a personal religious one. Please don't confuse those. But you will. A service organization may set its own criteria. Again this topic was originally not about the validty of same-sex marriage, but whether or not churches should be "required" to perform ceremonies.
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          Dec 20 2011: I think you might be missing a much darker, and more human truth, in what the people were trying to convey in their "why would anyone want to be a part of a group that didn't accept them" argument...

          It's often viewed, as an evil and racist argument now... but I would use the "Ron Paul defense" on you... Why would any black man, want to buy a product, at a business, where the store owner, wants to hang a "whites only" sign?

          By making it illegal, to hang a "whites only" sign, what we have done, is transfer wealth from African Americans... to people that hate them.
        • Dec 20 2011: Even restaurants have the right to set requirements for "proper attire". Are you going to sue them if they don't allow you to go in with t-shirt , shorts and sneakers when the sign says "collared shirts/pants/shoes required"? Each religious body can set its own requirements for performing a service based on whatever criterias. IF a religion defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, it has every right to deny such service to same sex partners.
          I do support gay marriage from a legal standpoint. However, I also support the rights of those religious bodies.
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        Dec 17 2011: Michael,
        I am not confused, nor are my ideas confusing....for some people. I would very much appreciate it if you would stop suggesting this. Thanks

        I respect the fact that we have different perceptions, and I am well aware of what the topic of this discussion is. Thanks again for your consideration.
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        Dec 20 2011: Hi David,
        I'm not sure who your comment above was addressed to ("I think you might be missing the much darker...."), and I got the notice, so I will respond.

        My perception is that the "darker...truth" is that this issue is discrimination, based on prejudice, sanctioned by some churches and/or members of some churches.

        The topic question seems to ask...is this legal or not, and should the churches, and/or individuals within the churches, be required to respect and follow the laws, which are voted on and passed by the masses of people.
        • Dec 21 2011: Not discrimination Colleen. There is no forcing of anyone. Perhaps discrimination would be when people force others to act counter to the deeply held beliefs. Again, in the US there cannot be a law that somehow restricts the exercise clause of the Constitution! You may call it what you will, but it is not the discrimination against a demographic. It is a choice made by people in the practice of their faith. Whether or not you agree with it. Please state the law you are citing that makes it discrimination?
    • Dec 17 2011: Nikolas,

      If you were to theoretically posit that religion is an indoctrinal process with millenia of experimental evidence to refine thier techniques of social dominion it is not suprising that adherents raised in a faith seek endorsement and acceptence within that group, even if it confounds reason.

      How many abused children still love thier loveless parents? How may spouses "walked into a door' for thier significant other?

      Some religions specialize in the construction and absolution of guilt, one wonders if this formulates a strange sort of addiction to ecclesiastical dis/approval. After all, marraige is an emotional decision, rather than a purely reasonable one.

      Oops, is my atheism showing?

      Best Regards...
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        Dec 17 2011: Good point Ian,
        I've worked with victims of abuse/violence in shelters, offenders of domestic violence in correctional facilities, addictions, etc. It is very difficult to move out of abusive situations, and it's not at all uncommon for people to continue to love the abuser.

        The church is often "the community" for people who have attended since they were children, and we often look to the community for acceptance and support. I also agree that some religions "specialize in the construction and absolution of guilt", which in my opinion, can sometimes cause an "addiction to ecclesiastical dis/approval".
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        Dec 19 2011: Well said, Ian.

        It's hard for me to understand why people are so passionate about something that seems so illogical to me. I had a long discussion on that topic with a friend the other day.
        She is a highly logical person, interested in science and very well educated.
        Yet I couldn't make it clear to her, why I don't believe in god. For her there exists a huge difference between the logical and the emotional part of her life. She made no connection between these two and couldn't understand how I drew conclusions from science that for me made it highly unreasonable to believe in a god. especially the god of judaism/christianity/islam
        • Dec 19 2011: Hi Nikolas,
          I think it's important that people recognize the differences between religion,church and god. Judaism, Christianity and Islam at their core are about love and acceptance of all living being, the corruption of these faiths is the misinterpretation and corruption by humankind. People made church and "religion" for certain - no one can say with any absolute proof that god was made or exists.

          Your friend who is very logical perhaps thinks that given all those things that exist that we remain unable to explain or replicate with our advanced science are, logically, evidence of a greater power - god. Is that perhaps not a more logical response than simply being unable to explain those things that remain inexplicable to us?

          Regardless if you believe in something more or not, I think it is essential we see the difference between the man-made institutions and books of religion and the concept of "god".

          As for the marriage in a church - though I find it despicable that any institution would discriminate against sexual orientation, a church/synagog/mosque etc is in fact a private club with a membership that has requirements.... one which is heterosexuality. As a "private" club I don't think the state has a right to interfere with that. However, the state does have the right to withhold any public funding from being channeled to such institutions.
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          Dec 20 2011: I think Tania makes a very important point here, which, as an atheist, I absolutely adore, and I failed to make clear in my previous posts... Stop giving churches tax exempt status, and public funds... and then it will be okay to let churches believe whatever they want. That is a fair point.

          As long as churches are not "special", in their relation to private clubs, then the state should let them have membership requirements, the same as any other private club... but... the second you grant churches tax exempt status, you do open up a rational argument for anti discrimination. Great point Tania, and in all future posts I will try to make that distinction clear. I don't believe that churches should be forced to grant gay marriage rights... because I don't believe churches should enjoy tax exempt status. I think they're snake oil salesman.
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        Dec 20 2011: Hello, Tania.
        I did in fact not talk about the jewisch/christian/islamic religion, but their god. If as I think you said religions are man made and faulty and the only thing good about them is the idea of love and acceptance then why should assume that there is a god? The only thing telling me about the existence of god is said faulty man made religion. Isn't it enough to just be a good person? Why do we need religion and a god to enforce it?
        And calling everything we can't explain a logical explanation for a divine creator is not very logical. Our knowledge has grown so much in the past millennia and much that was said to be gods work has since been explained.
        Another thing that has always puzzled me is: Throughout history thousands of religions around the world have been declared false, because christians, muslims and many others found the ideas behind them unbelievable. Would you belive in a god of thunder creating lightning with his hammer? Or a god of fire living in a volcano? Those ideas seem primitive and foolish to us. But if so many religions have been abandoned, what exactly makes you think, that Jahwe/Allah would be any different?
      • Dec 21 2011: Ian, that's ok. Your atheism is fine here. All religions however are not "indoctirnation machines." Actually thousands of people, nay millions of people everyday, practice their heartfelt faith. Imagine that. Thanks for your words.

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