Clegg set to open the way for churches to hold gay marriages

Via The Independent:

Nick Clegg will allow Parliament to go further in its plans to legalise gay marriage and enable churches and other religious institutions to conduct the ceremonies, The Independent has learned…

In a letter to the Quakers, Unitarian and Free Christian churches and Liberal Judaism, who all want to conduct same-sex marriages, Mr Clegg indicated that religious groups could be given the option.

He said: “No religious organisation who does not wish to conduct a same-sex marriage should be forced to do so. But religious liberty means allowing those churches and organisations who want to open their doors and welcome same-sex couples to do so, as much as it means respecting the rights of those who do not.” He added: “It is Liberal Democrat party policy, and my personal view, that those organisations who do wish to conduct same-sex marriages, should be free to do so. It is not the place of government to mandate religious organisations to conduct gay marriages. But nor is it the place of government to ban them from doing so.”

The point about what other religions want is an important one, both in its own right and also because it puts the opposition of some other Christians in a rather different light. Why should the law specially privilege the (official) view of the Catholic Church over those other Christians want to do illegal?

Railing against the state legislating over marriage often sounds like an issue of church versus state; in reality it is harking back to the less glorious past of Christian infighting to demand that the law should permit only some Christians to follow their own faith.

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