'under the current bill people in a same-sex marriages who discover that their spouse is unfaithful to them would not be able to divorce for adultery after Government legal experts failed to agree what constitutes “sex” between gay or lesbian couples. The bishops are also seeking to change a provision which says that when a lesbian woman in a same-sex marriage has a baby her spouse is not also classed as the baby’s parent. The result is that in some cases children would be classed as having only one parent.'Assuming the church is not just attempting a cynical passive aggressive approach to elicit greater antagonism to the bill, strengthening the institution of same sex marriage to cover adultery and shared parental responsibility will in my opinion add to the justice of this long awaited social advance.
So far the government has taken the line that it cannot adequately define adultery in a same sex relationship, which strikes me as bizarre and vaguely insulting. After all when homosexuality was completely illegal they had no problem defining what constituted sex between gay men and something about the idea suggests they have bought the stereotype that all same sex relationships are based in promiscuity and infidelity by definition.
I can accept that there may be ethical dilemmas over parental rights of a lesbian spouse, but they are by no means insurmountable. There are plenty of mixed sex couples where the legal father of a child is not the biological one and we seem to negotiate competing financial and emotional interests in the child quite adequately under those circumstances.
So I await with interest the detail and substance of the Lords Spiritual’s actions towards the bill’s passage from here on. I would not be surprised to hear demands for greater protection of Christians who want to discriminate against same sex couples but the government must resist weakening equality legislation in one area merely to facilitate implementation in another. Nor do I think we have heard the last of the church’s concerns over challenges to the ban on same sex marriages happening in church, for the good reasons I outlined in an earlier post.
Finally, for now I am going to resist making too much of the moral and theological volt face this change of position implies, content as I am to welcome the fact of it. Suffice to say the Anglican church has a history of catching up with enlightened thought... eventually... and before long will be telling us that this whole gay marriage thing was its idea in the first place.