Will Legalizing Gay Marriage in Britain Result in Coercive Attacks on Freedom of Conscience?

Great Britain’s government will vote soon on gay marriage. Christians have expressed concern that such a change in the law might result in attacks on freedom of conscience.

Supporters of the measure have rushed to assure the public that such fears are groundless.

Now, where have we heard things like this before?

Oh yes. It was President Obama, promising that Obamacare would not infringe on religious freedom and individual rights of conscience.

That was only a few months before a hand-picked committee of the Health and Human Services Department “passed” the HHS Mandate, which the same president who had made these promises signed and then misrepresented to the American people as being about “women’s health care.”

Good luck, British Christians. Judging by what has happened elsewhere, you’re going to need it.

A Christian Post article concerning the upcoming vote on same-sex marriage and freedom of conscience in Great Britain says in part:

UK Government Source: Teachers May Face Firing for Refusing to Teach Gay Marriage
Katherine Weber (“The Christian Post,” January 25, 2013)

As Great Britain’s government prepares to vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, an official from the Secretary of State for Education’s office reportedly has expressed trepidation toward the bill, arguing that primary school teachers in the country could possibly lose their jobs if they do not teach about gay marriage in the classroom.

One unnamed senior source from the office of Michael Gove, who serves as the country’s current Secretary of State for Education, has recently said that ultimately the U.K. government is not in control, should a teacher lose their job for refusing to teach same-sex marriage, and the case would ultimately go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, where the European Parliament is located.

“We have had legal advice, the problem is that there is this inherent uncertainty about such matters,” the source told The Telegraph in a Jan. 25 report.

“These are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain because Britain isn’t in control of this,” the source added.

Additionally, those critical of the upcoming same-sex marriage bill argue that hospital chaplains and other people in authority may be faced with difficult decisions when their conscience conflicts with their work protocol.

These statements come after human rights specialist Aidan O’Neill of the Queen’s Counsel argued on behalf of the Coalition For Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage legalization, that he believes teachers, hospital or prison chaplains would be negatively affected by the legalization of the bill.

However, in response to these worries, Maria Miller, Secretary of Culture and Great Britain’s equalities minister, recently stated that teachers and the Church of England will not be put in a compromising position due to the same-sex marriage bill.(Read more here.)

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  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    They’re going have trouble with it, no doubt. And the saddest part of all is that they sold their sovereignty for an illusionary improvement in trade with Europe, which has cost them even more in trade with the rest of the world.

  • Zachary Martinez

    In their recent briefing to MPs (http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/Home/Featured/Speak-Out-For-Marriage/Briefing), the English and Welsh Bishops raised their concerns about the rights of conscience of teachers in the secular school system who oppose same-sex marriage. This seems to me, however, to be rather inconsistent, in that they acknowledge no equivalent right for teachers in Catholic schools whose conscience leads them to support same-sex marriage to do so freely. If the Church has the right to restrict teachers in Catholic schools from expressing views contrary to the Church’s teaching (whether inside or outside of the classroom), why should the State not have the same right to restrict teachers in State schools from expressing views contrary to the State’s teaching? Conversly, if the State does not have that right, why should the Church?

  • Bill S

    “As Great Britain’s government prepares to vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, an official from the Secretary of State for Education’s office reportedly has expressed trepidation toward the bill, arguing that primary school teachers in the country could possibly lose their jobs if they do not teach about gay marriage in the classroom.”

    This seems like a scare tactic. But even if it isn’t, it would only serve to encourage open-mindedness. I don’t see how teaching about gay marriage could be imposed upon a teacher. And I don’t know why any teacher would not be able to accept it as a fact of life if legalized and leave it at that. The only ones who might be affected are those with strong prejudices that should not be passed onto children anyway.

  • FW Ken

    The Church is a voluntary association, the state is not. If a teacher dissents from Church teaching, a/he can find other employment. The state has police power, and had already used it in England, Canada, Sweden, and the U.S. To enforce gay orthodoxy.

    • Zachary Martinez

      The State’s operation of schools is not an instance of police power, when it permits private schools to also exist. It is really just an exercise in its taxing power, subsidising its own schools out of tax revenues – and in several countries, private schools get subsidised in that way too. The State’s policies on what the teachers it employs must or must not teach cannot be compared to the laws of general application which are the exercise of the police power. If a teacher employed in a State school dissents from what the State requires them to teach, they can find other employment too.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    We’ve already been told that nothing will be changed, and yet we now hear that adultery will have to be dropped as a ground for divorce, as no one can define what that would be for gays. We are also told the same about non consummation – so much for no changes.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Why would adultery be any different for homosexuals than for heterosexuals?

      • Zachary Martinez

        In English law, adultery is legally defined as only involving one particular sex act, a sex act which is only possible between men and women. To make it apply to homosexuals, they would have to broaden the definition – which would obviously impact heterosexuals just as much. I am not sure why they feel it is so problematic – the boundaries between what is and isn’t a “sexual act” are not always crystal clear, but the law already encounters that uncertainty in the criminal law of sexual offences, so it is clearly not an insurmountable problem. I suspect the real reason, is that they felt the very existence of the law was outdated, and that given that, modernising the definition was not worth the effort, and that they plan to soon get rid of it anyway. But I don’t think we can attribute that to same-sex marriage – same-sex marriage is just a convenient vehicle – I think people have wanted to move English law to a more pure “no fault” divorce system for a long time, and abolishing adultery as grounds for divorce is another step on this journey.

  • BeckyC

    Like the ACA, we will have to pass Gay Marriage to find out what’s in it. I think gay rights activists are holding back… in Massachusetts and elsewhere, because they know people might not like to find out what changes they have in mind for our children in the public schools. More than merely “Heather Has Two Mommies”.
    (For which the short, scientific answer is: No, she doesn’t. It is hilarious that Democrats present themselves as the Party of Science.)

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I would be shocked if it did not pass in Britain. Except for a few, mostly Catholics, Britain seems to have gone hook, line, and sinker in totality for the mores of the sexual revolution. For this absurd legislation (gay marriage) to pass under the auspices of a Conservative government is the ultimate disgrace. If this were to have happened in the United States, that Conservative would have been run out of office by his own base of voters.

    • Bill S

      When something is opposed almost solely for religious reasons, it usually involves tolerance of those who are different or who have different views. Most of the time, it is something that is nobody else’s business and involves extending personal freedoms, which on this blog have been referred to as “license”. You have said that I am like a broken record, but I could say the same about you and other commenters of your ilk.

      “For this absurd legislation (gay marriage) to pass under the auspices of a Conservative government is the ultimate disgrace.”

      Perhaps the Conservatives in Britain are more fair and open minded than their counterparts in this country.