A simple question about Civil Partnerships

Next week at General Synod we have the following motion being presented.
Motion 24:
That this Synod instruct the Faith and Order Board to instruct the Committee on Canons to prepare canonical material to enable the registration of Civil Partnerships to be undertaken in the Scottish Episcopal Church, so that a first reading of such canonical material can be considered by General Synod 2016.

Now, the Scottish Government has indicated very clearly that it is going to consult on whether to open Civil Partnerships to straight couples.
Can anyone tell me whether or not, if we agree to this motion at General Synod we will also be agreeing to the preparation of Canonical material which could potentially open the way to straight couples being able to register Civil Partnerships in church?

I may have more questions and comments about this in due course. First of all though, I want to know more about this. Is the intention that this could lead to religious Civil Partnership for straight couples becoming a possibility in Scottish Episcopal Churches or not? More generally speaking, what would be the implications of passing this motion?
Comments please.


  1. Matthew Pemble says

    things they haven’t thought about properly …

    Legalistically, albeit IANALNDIPOOT, I think the answer is “yes”. The implications? Much hot air, minimal action.

    For once, probably the only time since Joan of Arc, the French seem to have got this right (general civil society / religious split, not equal marriage, and pretty much on equal marriage. I note the binational issue. )

  2. I don’t see anything in the motion that would prohibit a mixed-sex couple from registering a civil partnership in church, if it is that mixed-sex civil partnerships become recognised under Scots law. I think that if the SEC’s intention is to undertake the registration of Civil Partnerships exclusively for same-sex couples, that would require explicit instructions to the Committee on Canons which would require an amendment to the motion as writ.

    I don’t want this motion to be passed at all (an even casual parsing of the word civil, for heaven’s sake…), but perhaps the only thing I want less than that is for it to be passed with such an amendment. The last thing we need is to start writing new non-inclusive Canons when we’re still trying to get rid of the old ones.

  3. Rosemary Hannah says

    If they do introduce Civil Partnerships in church, are they happy to have heterosexual clergy in civil partnerships even as they are pressing gay clergy to stay in civil partnerships and not marry?

  4. Yes – that’s precisely the question.

    • margaret of the sea of galilee says

      Once upon a time on an island far away… we (myself and my then partner – male and Christian) made several approaches to various clergy to have a church marriage but without any civil component or documentation…but no one would do it.
      Now after 30 years with This Man we still cannot get married – religious marriages are only for couples who share a common religion and there is NO civil marriage option at all.
      Not complaining, just saying

      • #marriage This is a very good point
        Personally I am all for the European option of having formal/legal marriages registered by the State …independent of the Church….and then those of us who are so inclined going to Church.
        I don’t see any reason why the logical corollary should not be that if you don’t want or need legal recognition then Holy Church should just do its thing. Our former Archbishop (Ian George of Adelaide, South Australia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_George) did a lot of work about marriage when we (The Australian Anglican Church) were grappling with ‘remarriage’ of divorced persons and used to often note that “legal marriage” for everyone is a fairly recent phenomenon and that by and large it was about securing property and succession rights of title . Ordinary folk didn’t need this and so simply …married….
        We have lost sight of all this.
        In reality Anglican Churches could have married same-sex couples without legal sanction if we had been brave enough to have the courage of our convictions.

  5. The more I think about this the more I think it could turn into a distraction from the main issue. Marriage is what the church offers and that should include same-sex marriage for laity and clergy alike.

    Civil Partnership should be a separate discussion as it is a separate and distinct choice that can be made. If the church decides, having worked out what the theological difference between the two is, to have a liturgy for the celebrating of Civil Partnerships as opposed to that of a marriage, then that needs to go through the Canonical process and have its own canon assigned to it.

  6. I’m still not getting an answer to my question and I asked it at our pre-synod meeting last week too. Can it really be possible that this motion has been proposed without anyone knowing the answer?

  7. Would it be possible to become a bishop if one were in a religiously registered Civil Partnership?

    Is the answer different or the same if the person concerned is in an opposite sex relationship or a same-sex relationship?

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