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The 'bishops versus the lawyers'?
The schismatic nature of the debate on same-sex marriage is redolent of pre-modern times. Indeed, the Telegraph went as far back as Henry Vlll, asking readers (somewhat melodramatically): ‘is gay marriage the greatest threat to the established role of the Church of England since the Reformation?’
Despite (main) party-political consensus, it was always unlikely same-sex marriage would sail through parliament ‘on the nod’. As well as restive backbenchers, and a population deeply split on the issue (depending on which poll you believe), there are complex legal ramifications to consider.
Or are there? Chancery Lane’s policy statement in favour is well timed for the ‘yes’ lobby, in a week which has seen the Anglican Church use legal arguments to bolster its ‘no’ campaign.
Church officials claim exemptions from performing gay marriages for religious organisations would be unlikely to survive legal challenge, for example. Not so, says Society vice-president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff – if the issue were taken to Europe, judges are unlikely to agree that any religious organisation would be forced to carry out same-sex marriages.
It is telling that Chancery Lane has stated its position on gay marriage so unequivocally. And even though the prime minister is giving MPs a free vote, the momentum in favour of reform appears to be irresistible.
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