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Christian Registrars and Gay Civil Partnership Ceremonies
 
Many seem to think that marriage is just a matter for two individuals. If so what do they want their family and their community and the state to recongise and protect and honour it for? Marriage involves a relationship between two people and the wider community. That means that same sex marriage or other sex marriage is not a private matter. It is two people expecting and demanding to be regarded as part of the social moral fabric. To say you will marry your same sex partner and do not ask anybody else to see it as ethical and moral is either to lie or not understand the social nature of marriage. You obligate their conscience to accept your union. If your same sex marriage is human right then the religious conscience that opposes you cannot be respected.  You would not respect a racist conscience.

 

Some say that if same sex marriage opponents only dislike the idea of such marriage then the law cannot care about that.  The state by supporting them and banning or not providing for same sex marriage is interfering.

 

Others say that if the opponents have a conscience problem with it that is a case for non-interference as well.

 

Many registrars of marriages and civil partnerships are Christians. You could opt for a civil marriage and the person officiating at the ceremony could be a Christian.
 
Christian registrars claim the right to refuse to officiate and solemnise marriages between gay people. Others go further and refuse to have anything to do with civil partnership ceremonies between gay people and declare that they have a right to do so on the grounds of their conscience and religious beliefs. They forget that their job is to facilitate a marriage that is valid in the eyes of the law even if it is not valid in any other sense! It is not their marriage and marriage does not belong to them so they have no right to object. Catholicism urges Catholic registrars to quit rather than officiate at same sex marriage. This is hypocritical for it allows them to officiate when it is two Catholics getting married. The Church teaches that Catholics cannot truly marry in a register office so the marriage is a sham.
 
Now the whole point of civil marriage is that religion doesn't apply to it. It is a marriage made purely by state law - it is secular. So the fact that a registrar may be Christian is irrelevant. The idea that a Christian registrar can impose their religious views on a ceremony which is by nature irreligious is patently absurd. Christians say they cannot marry gay couples for the end result is a charade and is not marriage. The Christians will be marrying people whose unions they consider invalid anyway. Will a Christian registrar refuse to marry two Satanists or a pair who cannot consummate the marriage? They would not consider such marriages to be "real" except in the imagination of the law. What if the registrar is a Mormon? A Mormon believes there is no real marriage except inside of his religion.
 
If they had this right?
 
Suppose the Christian registrars had the right to refuse.
 
That would suggest that if all registrars were Christians and Christians are obligated to wish that everybody would convert to Christianity its tough if there is nobody left to perform same sex civil partnerships.
 
If you take on a job, you have to do it. If you are a Muslim and you work in a butcher you have to sell pig meat. Its against your religion but you made a resolution to obey your employer not your religion. Period.
 
There are Christians who believe that there are no valid marriages except between Christians. What about them?
 
What about registrars who believe that marrying people 21 or under is disrespectful to marriage for they are not mature enough to understand the gravity and obligations of marriage.
 
A registrar was booked to officiate at a same sex civil partnership and was unable to come. The ceremony could not go ahead then unless the Christian registrar who is against civil partnerships fills in. They must have the right to refuse despite the mess and the hurt and the disappointment that results.
 
The Christian cannot say that he or she should do the ceremony under these exceptional circumstances ie to avoid causing great distress to others. Why? Because if same sex civil partnership is so bad that it justifies somebody refusing to assist in the ceremony then the circumstances are not going to make much of a difference.
 
Is refusing a act of hatred
 
If the registrar wants the right to refuse to officiate at a gay civil partnership they are discriminating against gay people if:
 
1 They have no proof that they are right to oppose even monogamous gay civil partner relationships. The right to opt out is based on their claim that performing the ceremony would be against their conscience. So they need to give sufficient evidence that it is their consciences not their prejudices they are obeying. When many religionists talk about obeying their consciences, what they really mean is that they are afraid to defy the authority of their God. They need to look within. The Bible says that gay sex is an abomination - that is it is a sin to be detested with all one's being. Even if the gay couple mean well, they are still doing great evil and this cannot be abetted or condoned.
 
2 They have no right to judge if the gay couple are actually going to have sex. Some couples don't have sex. Civil partnership could not be much of a sin where the gay couple only want companionship and not sex.
 
3 They would assert that those Christian fundamentalist registrars who disagree with interracial civil partnerships or marriage on religious grounds should nevertheless be urged to perform civil partnership ceremonies or marriages. The point is that if a person should be allowed to opt out of officiating at a same sex civil partnership why stop there? If the registrar knows a man is beating up his girlfriend and she or he officiates at the wedding or civil partnership why does he or she not look to opt out then? A gay couple who adore one another must be worse than a heterosexual relationship which involves violence and intimidation. It is interesting that Christians consider sex outside marriage to be incompatible with genuine love and yet they welcome people who live in sin to the altar for marriage. If the couple think they love one another properly and are prepared for marriage and know their own minds and are not affected by self-deception then they should not be encouraged to marry at all until they to stop having sex and to live in separate houses for a sufficient period of time to prepare for marriage.
 
4 Civil weddings and civil partnerships leave God out which is a bigger violation of Christian faith that a gay wedding. It contradicts the commandment of Jesus that God must always and expressly come first and be ultimately our only true love. Jesus said that whoever is not for him is against him. The Christian registrar is being a hypocrite. You may reply that a Christian may be involved in working in the fields and not mention God but still be doing everything for God so God is still being included in her or his life. But that is a sad excuse.
 
5 Christians cannot officiate at gay weddings. They will say that they have no objection to somebody else officiating at the ceremony. If a gay wedding is so bad that they have to put in a conscientious objection, then how can they say it is acceptable even for somebody who is not a believer to celebrate the ceremony? That is like saying that you will not shoot your grandmother but have no problem with somebody else doing it. The true Christian will ask the celebrant not to perform the wedding and say why. The point is that having a little bit of discrimination makes no sense. It has to be all or nothing.
 
6 Same sex partnerships are considered to be so bad that the registrar may opt out of being involved - that is plainly hatred for the couple are doing good not harm.
 
7 The registrar does not want to officiate at same sex civil partnerships or gay weddings and will not, so he or she should not be in the job. If a registrar has the belief that you need to be a Mormon or something before you can contract a valid marriage, that means he or she will be able to do very few marriages indeed! Are we to employ her or him despite that? Is it discrimination to refuse to employ her or him? Certainly not! He or she discriminates against himself or herself by adopting limiting beliefs.
 
If registrars refuse to officiate at same sex civil partnerships or gay weddings because their religion forbids it this can be considered to be discrimination. Some argue that if the registrar is forced to officiate under pain of losing their job or being disciplined this is discrimination against a person on the grounds of their religious belief.
 
If it is religious discrimination, that still does not imply the law should allowed the registrar to opt out. The registrar has only to endure a few minutes of minor discrimination as he or she performs the ceremony. The couple have to endure worse discrimination if the registrar is allowed to refuse them.
 
What happens in such cases is there is a conflict or clash over moral codes. The same sex couple wants the legal protection given through the ceremony. The registrar thinks this protection is wrong and evil. Suppose it is acceptable to give people the right to obey their religious conscience even at the risk of hurting others. Surely it is even more acceptable to give people the right to obey their moral conscience? Surely your moral beliefs come before your religious beliefs as such? Moral beliefs and religious beliefs are not the same thing. You can give your moral beliefs a religious dress but they are really only moral beliefs.
 
People change their minds about religious beliefs all the time. Today's Catholics can be tomorrows Mormons. The registrars are not looking for religious freedom for themselves but for their belief.
 
The registrar officiates as an official of the state and as a representative of the state. Therefore he or she must obey the law of the land. Personal thoughts and feelings don't come into it. You do the job as part of the state not as part of a religion. When a nurse gets a job in a hospital, she has to do her job not as a wife and mother but as a nurse. For example, she will not be allowed to work if she takes her children with her to work.
 
It is not discrimination to fire a registrar who brings her or his religious feelings and prejudices and doctrines to work.
 
Some say this is discrimination against religion in favour of secularism. They say that the doctrine of secularism is being put before religious doctrine and this is unfair. But religion is a doctrine. Secularism is not. Secularism is a method not a doctrine. Secular school teachers are not expected by secular principles to teach atheism or agnosticism or scepticism or religion as fact to their students. No. They encourage the students to ask questions about these ideas and to think about them for themselves. This keeps things neutral. Religion whoever is about getting the students to accept religious doctrine and telling only say the Catholic side or the Islam side or whatever.
 
Even if secularism were a doctrine, we would still have put it before religious doctrine and ask religionists to do the same. No country can function if it starts to worry about what God thinks about x and y and z for no two religions agree on what God wants. So the answer is just to focus on what people want and forget about God and religion. Coffee is okay for Catholics. But for Mormons it is a sin to drink it. Contraception is okay with Born-Again Christians but Catholics are opposed to it under all circumstances. Homosexuality is okay with Wicca and is an abomination according to Christianity and Judaism. Religion has always hampered the effectiveness of the state by trying to interfere with state policy. Such hampering has proved expensive. Babies die in hospitals because the money that should be available to save them has been lapped up by religious lapdogs. Laws are blocked because of religious interference and precious money that could help the sick is lost.
 
Conclusion
 
Registrars who claim to be Christians and who cannot perform same sex weddings or civil partnerships should not be registrars. End of! A lot of time and money is spent debating things and legislating in ways to please religious groups. If people would agree to treat others kindly on a the human level and keep their thinking on that level instead of complicating things with bringing in God and his wishes there would be less trouble.