Comments: Petition: allow CofE clergy to bless civil partnerships in church

This has had a positive impact, that will concern some!

I think there are some creative ways to take this forward.

1. Those clergy who are keen to see Civil Partnerships signed up following a religious service might consider asking their local authority to designate them as civil partner registrars. While guidance (from the Registrar General) on this is at an early stage there is some and it follows in a separate post.

2. There are lots of private chapels in institutions, hospitals, large houses etc etc. Perhaps an organisation like Inclusive Church could begin to coordinate a drive encouraging the owners or trustees of these buildings to seek registration of the buildings for civil partnerships. While the law strictly prohibits the use of these buildings for civil marriage, there is no such obstruction to civil partnerships.

3. If Inclusive Church were not able to coordinate this or help provide the appropriate bona fides - then is it not time a TEC diocese started to establish "chaplaincies" or give a warrant which could give these buildings a new lease of life?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 8:44pm GMT

Designation of Civil Partnership Registrars
5.17 A civil partnership registrar is a person who is designated by a registration authority as a civil partnership
registrar for its area. Under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Regulations 1968 a minister of religion
or authorised person is precluded from also acting as a registrar of marriages. There is no such restriction under
civil partnership legislation although the designation of such persons will be for the purely secular role of civil
partnership registrar.
5.18 The designation of civil partnership registrars is entirely a matter for individual authorities. Any minister
of religion or authorised person for approved premises who wishes to be designated as a registrar in this capacity
should approach their authority accordingly.
5.19 Authorities will need to have due regard to issues such as security in accessing computer systems and the
requirement for the registration itself to be an entirely secular event when considering any designation but the fact
that an individual is a minister of religion should not be an automatic bar against considering appointing them
as civil partnership registrations. However, authorities may also expect a civil partnership registrar to attend and
register civil partnerships elsewhere, including at secular locations.
5.20 If a minister of religion is acting as a civil partnership registrar for the registration of a civil partnership on
religious premises, the registration may only proceed if the minister is leading the proceedings solely in the secular
capacity as civil partnership registrar. No religious ceremony is allowed while the civil partnership registrar is
acting in that capacity during the proceedings. On the day, any ceremony which takes place before or after the civil
partnership registration should be clearly identified as such and be separate from the civil partnership registration.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 8:45pm GMT

Please remember to sign the Changing Attitude petition about Civil Partnerships in church. It is on the Changing Attitude website. This is something we can change if there is a big enough body of opinion in favour.

Posted by Robert Ellis at Sunday, 5 February 2012 at 9:58pm GMT

This petition - on top of the letter from the clergy of the London Diocese - ought to help the members gathered for General Synod to understand the need for something to be done about faithful, monogamous, same sex Blessings in the Church. Either this, or realise that same-sex couples may access the real possibility of opting for Marriage, under the new proposed government legislation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 2:21am GMT

Robert, this IS the Changing Attitude petition...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 7:45am GMT

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the timing of this?
It looks like the Government will abolish Civil Partnerships in the near future and call all marriages marriage.
Why are we suddenly fighting to bless something that's about to cease to exist?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 8:31am GMT

What Martin said, but with the addition of Oxbridge college chapels to #2

Erika, there's to be a consultation, but same-sex civil marriage is probably a ways away, and same-sex religious marriage even further.

Posted by Scot Peterson at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 9:25am GMT

Erika. At least on this way, faithful, monogamous, same-sex couple could be offered the Blessing of the Church, whereas Civil Marriage would not necessarily provide that.

The question for the Bishops might be: Do we acknowledge Gay Marriage, or would we prefer Same-Sex Blessings. it's as simple as that!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:21am GMT

"Why are we suddenly fighting to bless something that's about to cease to exist?" Erika Baker

There has been talk of retaining Civil Partnerships and making them open to opposite-sex couples too. Or perhaps this has been overtaken by events.

Posted by Laurence C. at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 10:31am GMT

Dr Scot Peterson has some better ideas!

My hope is that someone will seek this registration for the chapel in the House of Commons.

Does anyone know of any lawful impediment to this?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 5:20pm GMT

it all depends on how far away same sex marriage is and on whether civil partnerships will be retained for some other purpose.
But in the church everything moves exceedingly slowly so we must expect Government to be faster however long it might take...

The big problem the church will have is that Civil Partnerships have been written in such a way that registering them does not imply that they are sexual relationships. That's why the church accepted them - because it is quite possible that celibate couples enter into them purely to protect each other financially and legally.

Once you have same sex marriage that difference will disappear. A marriage is a marriage is a marriage, and there will be no different words and rules for gay people. The assumption, if not the outward requirement, will be for the relationship to be sexual.

That will make it impossible for the church to maintain the fiction that these partnerships are nothing more than strong friendships.
But while it hasn't sorted out its own views on homosexuality and while it still refers to Issues as the defining piece of writing on this, it cannot possibly accept all the implications of gay marriage.

Unless we ended up with sexual marriges and non-sexual civil partnerships - and then the church could conceivably bless the partnerships but not the marriages - which would completely defeat the object those asking to bless CPs now are hoping to achieve.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 6 February 2012 at 5:24pm GMT
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