I didn't attend the statement on gay marriage by Maria Miller, Sec.of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the House of Commons last week. No point is causing myself unnecessary irritation I thought. She would have not the slightest interest in my opinion, and I thought I knew what she would say. But I didn't know - all of it anyway. I expected her to announce that the Gov't intends to legislate to allow gay marriage, including in a variety of religious institutions, but the ban the Church in Wales from conducting ceremonies came as a complete surprise.
Now this has left me a bit torn between two displeasures. As followers of this blog will know, I decided years ago that I would vote against redefinition of marriage (discussion for another day) - so you might think I'd be pleased by this. But its not that straight forward. I would indeed prefer the Church in Wales to decide against gay marriage, but cannot see why it, alone should be banned by law from doing so.
The Church in Wales has been disestablished from the state for almost 100 years. Why on earth should the UK Gov't be banning the Church in Wales, alone amongst many other disestablished churches. It just looks anti-Welsh. I accept that 'the Government' does pass laws which apply to all churches (not allowed to sacrifice virgins etc, - even if they wanted to) but this ban applies only to the Church in Wales. The Church of England is established - so 'fair enough'. In general, my libertarian instincts make me very suspicious of government poking its nose where there's no need. I expect this decision to cause much 'constitutional' outrage, and it may well be reversed.
Yet again I find myself aligned with Dr Barry Morgan - and again, coming to the same conclusion from a different direction. For example, we both passionately oppose changing the organ donation system to one based on opting-out rather than one based on opting-in. The Archbishop's opposition is about 'who owns our bodies'. Mine is that there isn't a shred of evidence that the change will increase the number of organs available. Its no more than a political stunt. And it seems we agree that the UK Gov't should not be banning Church in Wales from conducting gay marriage. The Archbishop seems keen to allow it to take place, while my concern is entirely constitutional. I also believe that where a proposal is not thought through or logical, it will not survive Parliamentary scrutiny. I very much hope I'm not obliged to vote on this.