Melanie Phillips rails against gay marriage


9:20 am - February 14th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Oh joy, Melanie Phillips is angry again!

On countless occasions, David Cameron has declared that he is a tremendous fan of the institution of marriage. So big a fan, it now becomes clear, that he generously intends to bestow its status and privileges far beyond what most people consider marriage actually to be.

Time and again, the Tory leader has used his promise to strengthen marriage so as to reassure people that he was fully committed to defending this core value of conservatism.

For it was revealed yesterday that ministers are planning to change the law to allow homosexual couples to ‘marry’ in religious ceremonies, including in church.

Gay partnership ceremonies in other venues will also be allowed for the first time to contain a religious element, such as hymns or readings from the Bible. These unions will then be called ‘marriage’,

The Church of England says it will not allow gay marriages at its churches.

The same law will also apply to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim temples. My feeling is that a Hindu temple, given its a highly decentralised religion, will be the first in the race.

Anyway, back to Melanie Phillips:

If still in doubt, try this thought experiment. Imagine the Government was planning to recognise polygamy and polyandry (marriage with more than one woman or man), or marriage between ‘zoophiles’ (people who have ‘loving and committed relationships with mammals’, or bestiality to you and me) and their, er, partners.

You know, I think that Melanie Phillips is holding on to cultural values that are out of date in this country. Isn’t this a failure on her part to integrate with the majority? Multi-culturalism has failed! Get this woman to a corrective facility!

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


SH: “My feeling is that a Hindu temple, given its a highly decentralised religion, will be the first in the race.”

By reports, Liberal Synagogues are at the head of the queue and have been actively lobbying the government already:
http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/28550/liberal-judaism-lobby-lords-over-gay-marriage

With the fetish that Conservatives are making of decentralisation by transferring power to the people, surely it is up to individual churches and faiths to decide whether to conduct gay marriage or civil partnership ceremonies.

Just in case anyone thought there was a substantive point behind Mel’s ranting:

1) the proposal is about repealing two clauses of the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 – section 2.5, which says that “No religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document” and section 6.1.b, which says that: “The place at which two people may register as civil partners of each other… must not be in religious premises“.

(all active UK legislation is online here. I wish people – both columnists and bloggers, but especially columnists, would bloody read it before sounding off).

In other words, it’s not about creating unions that will then be called “marriage” at all.

2) There is absolutely no way that equality legislation could be used to force conservative churches to perform civil partnership ceremonies, as section 14.4 of the Equalities Act 2003 says “Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for a minister to restrict participation in activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates, or to restrict the provision of goods, facilities or services in the course of activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates, in respect of a person on the ground of his sexual orientation.

In other words, the Equalities Act 2003 stops people who happen to be religious bigots but who run secular businesses from discriminating on sexuality grounds, but it makes absolutely and unequivocally clear that any minister of religion (including imams, rabbis, etc) is completely within their rights to tell people to get lost because they’re gay.

Sunny: I reckon it’s more likely to be a liberal Protestant denomination – the Unitarians or the Quakers – but it’ll be interesting to see who gets there first…

I like how she blats on about “traditional marriage” being defined by the bible, then goes on to use polygamy as part of her slippery slope argument. You might almost come to the conclusion that she hasn’t actually read what the bible contains on the subject of marriage…

Other people have pointed this out before, but you do have to wonder why it’s converts to wingnuttery that often go craziest about the full gamut of culture war nonsense.

By my reckoning, Melanie has now gone full meltdown over gay marriage; global warming; the left’s insidious Islamist plot to destroy the west generally and Israel in particular; Barack Obama’s heritage and the validity of evolution, amongst others.

Surely there are enough genuine cases of bureaucratic balls-ups and stupid councillors to fund a lifetime of Daily Mail-style bitching about events occurring in reality, without also adopting a deranged conspiracist worldview. Mel, like so many others, seems to actively rejoice at every bit of new evidence, however feeble, to support her perceived Communist plots to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

To be honest I don’t care what this woman says. If I want a religious ceromony or aspects of religion in a marriage I may have, then it is up to us. Faith and religious feelings come from the heart not from dictak.

Why do you give her so much attention?

7. Richard Thomas

I have always taken Mr Phillips, otherwise going under the name of Joshua Rosenburg, to be a sensible and judicious man but perhaps, since his wife is so keen on all the biblical traditions, he might reasonably exert the traditional power of the husband and enjoin on Melanie Phillips a period of silence for which we would all be most grateful.

@3: “she hasn’t actually read what the bible contains on the subject of marriage”

It gets acutely embarrassing at Deuteronomy 22:20-22:

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/kjv/deu022.htm

Cameron is a direct but illegitimate descendant of King William IV (1830-37):

“At his death William had no surviving legitimate children, though he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the actress Dorothea Jordan, with whom he cohabited for 20 years.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_IV_of_the_United_Kingdom

she’s comparing gay relationships to raping animals.

this is surely a new low for mel?

she’s comparing gay relationships to raping animals.

Let’s be fair, she doesn’t raise the question of consent.

(is a woman who lets a dog shag her really raping him? I’m sceptical…)

It seems Mel doesn’t understand the idea of consent, but since she wants to force everyone in the country to follow a narrow and long since debunked bronze age system of social control, that doesn’t surprise me.

If the dog’s wagging its tail it ain’t rape.

What we need is a seperation between religion and marrage: religion is inherently irrational and debating the rights and non-existane wrongs of gay marrage in terms of the supernatural is a waste of time.

I take my line on gay marriage (unsurprisingly) from PJ O’Rourke:

I’m so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire’s recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they’ll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.

@14: “voting Republican”

From Fox news, no less:

“WASHINGTON — Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and wife Lynne, and her longtime lesbian partner are expecting a child, FOXNews.com confirmed Wednesday.”
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,234725,00.html

The Daily Mash, as might be expected, has a good take on this one.

has melanie ever been happy about anything? for years she has seemed to be permanently bitter. can’t be much fun being her family having to live with her.

In other words, the Equalities Act 2003 stops people who happen to be religious bigots but who run secular businesses from discriminating on sexuality grounds, but it makes absolutely and unequivocally clear that any minister of religion (including imams, rabbis, etc) is completely within their rights to tell people to get lost because they’re gay.

This does seem illogical. Discrimination is either permissible or it is not.

If a B&B owner is not allowed to choose his customers why should a church be able to do so?

This does seem illogical. Discrimination is either permissible or it is not. If a B&B owner is not allowed to choose his customers why should a church be able to do so?

It’s because the law still reserves some special rights for people who carry out religious ceremonies.

Whether you think that’s fair or not is another question, but it’s not obviously insane: God’s unlikely to send you to Hell for renting two men a hotel room (I’ve checked the Bible and the Qu’ran, and neither mention this possibility), but he might send you to Hell for applying holy sacraments to people who you know don’t deserve them according to the rules (not 100% sure on the holy books here, but it’s definitely the RCC’s position).

It is always fun to watch the so called social conservatives prove that freedom is only for the rich to avoid paying taxes.

Mad Mel is a big govt lover. She wants it to control people, just like all social conservatives. As one Right wing religious nut said in America, “if gays did not exist, we would have to invent them.”

As usual with the Right wing, they need theirt bogey men to scare people. If Mel can’t get her hate on she feels she has nothing in her life.

I think we need to seriously consider keeping Melanie Philips away from livestock.

@18 Since when did churches become private businesses? Does that mean we can start taxing them? *begins rubbing hands gleefully*

22

Yup, religion should be taxed. It is very harmful to human beings, and therefore should be taxed at a high rate. The claim that it is not political is hog wash.

@ John B

he might send you to Hell for applying holy sacraments to people who you know don’t deserve them according to the rules

So you say the reason anti-discrimination laws don’t apply to churches is because God demands his servants discriminate on sexuality?

And threatens them with purgatory if they won’t?

I can just about see how this might work from the perspective of a religious adherent but laws are not made by churches but by governments.

To say that we can’t compel religious groups not to discriminate because their God tells them they must do so is illogical when the law demands compliance in non-discrimination from everyone else.

You know, I think that Melanie Phillips is holding on to cultural values that are out of date in this country. Isn’t this a failure on her part to integrate with the majority?

I don’t think my grandparents would have understood gay marriage.
It doesn’t mean that they were bad people.

I’m not really a fan of kicking the stupid dumb-ass hillbilly hicks like a lot of Liberals like to do.

Reading this thread reminded me of this Spiked article from the run up to the American election in 2008, when liberals were denouncing the backward views of the blue collar conservatives in places like West Virginia.
I am always struck by the hectoring language used by otherwise educated and sensitive, sophisticated people when they are denouncing ‘ordinary folk’. Frequently, those who are associated with the so-called religious right are described as ‘simpletons’ and ‘idiots’. What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms. These passionate denunciations suggest that some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel that their very identity – as expressed through their lifestyles – is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, immigration or any other issue. Sadly, all too often debates about issues and values can become very personal indeed in America.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5301/

Not that I’m a fan of Ms Phillips please note.

If god commands his servants not to deal with homosexuals in violation of employment laws with he should be taken to a tribunal.

‘I am always struck by the hectoring language used by otherwise educated and sensitive, sophisticated people when they are denouncing ‘ordinary folk’.’

You can’t hide behind the ‘ordinary folk’ label forever; ‘ordinary folk’ can be gay, and ‘ordinary folk’ can have gay children.

‘What is most striking is the passion and force with which certain individuals are attacked if they take a different position on, say, the right to abortion or the right to bear arms.’

Generally speaking that ‘passion’ doesn’t extend to blowing up anti-abortionists or shooting gun owners.

If you can’t see the asymmetry between ‘hectoring’ and ‘homicidal’ you just make yourself look unbalanced.

To say that we can’t compel religious groups not to discriminate because their God tells them they must do so is illogical when the law demands compliance in non-discrimination from everyone else.

I have a lot of sympathy for that viewpoint, but I think the way England & Wales (usual “Scotland’s probably, but might not be, the same, and Northern Ireland is a terrifying mire of lunacy” disclaimers applies) does it is fairly sensible.

In E&W, any religious organisation providing a service for which it receives public money (e.g. care homes, schools) can’t discriminate, but a religious organisation providing a service without any public money can. And yes, equality is good, but I think it’s unreasonable to make people do things that they believe will make God spend eternity sticking pins in their eyes. So if you love/fear God *so much* that you’re not gonna take the cash, then fair play to you.

(sadly, the Church of England’s estates aren’t viewed as ‘public money’. We really need another Henry to sort that one out…)

In New South Wales, where I live now, the exemption is extended to religious organisations that provide services with public money, which I think is fucking disgusting.

And this:

‘These passionate denunciations suggest that some people, most notably those in the liberal elite, feel that their very identity – as expressed through their lifestyles – is being called into question by those who dare to disagree on the environment, abortion, immigration or any other issue.’

Its not a ‘liberal elite’s’ existance being challenged by a change in the status quo, only those with a vested interest in keeping things exactly the same.

Frankly, if your faith in marriage as an institution is challenged by the possible marraige of same sex couples you don’t even know your marriage is fucked anyway.

Nice of Ms Phillips to bring up polyandry and polygmy though – if everyone involved wants to, why is this wrong (I know some cultures may try to abuse it, but some cultures (please note I use culture to include ethnicities, religions etc, not to mean non-British) try to abuse marriage anyway.

Basically she’s just another one of those idiots who wants the state to determine how we live, rather than having the state reflect how we live, which is surely preferable?

Shatterface, most of that post I did was a quote from the article, but I messed up the quote function. My point in quoting that article was to question how far more liberal people can go in condemning the more conservative. Much of the world would have difficulties with same sex marriage. Most of Latin America, Asia and Africa for example.
Russia, and Easten Europe too. And in the west it must still be a minority view that gay and straight marriages are the same thing.

No liberal person wants to be seen as sneering at ”the chavs” like they do on Little Britain, Shameless and My big fat gypsy wedding, so you have to be a bit careful of what you say about people who balk at human progress like this.

Of course, Mad Mel is fair game, but I have gotten this idea from reading articles like this (below) about liberal’s views of ‘the great unwashed’ (Fox News viewers) in America.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9842/

@31 interesting you should raise the Rally for Sanity, the rally itself was blasted by liberals for being all fluff and no substance. Indeed the rally attendees were probably more concerned with seeing Colbert and Stewart than making any sort of political point.

Damon: gotta ask, if you’re not a troll or spamlord, why’re you trying so hard to promote that particular Spiked article? If you’d written it, that’d be fair play…

34. Baying Lynch Mob

What pisses me off most with the article isn’t the standard bile we’ve come to expect, but that devious use of scare-quotes: Always hiding ‘marry’ inside inverted commas when it’s about same-sex marriage, in order to reinforce the assertion that it isn’t and can never be compared with a legally-recognized straight marriage, but without being so bold as to make and defend that claim openly.

And on that count, the BBC’s no better: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12442375

Baying Lynch Mob,

Technically ‘marry’ is pretty accurate for civil partnerships (and ‘civil partnership’ likewise accurate for marriage) since they are effectively the same, but technically different. I think what Ms Phillips objects to is the strange idea that we should stop playing silly buggers and treat everyone the same regardless of gender.

Incidentally, for those suggesting Ms Phillips is drawing on the Bible – isn’t she Jewish? Similiar book, different tradition.

@ Damon

And in the west it must still be a minority view that gay and straight marriages are the same thing.

You can make them of equal legal status.

You can make churches bless them.

You can make it a criminal offence to discriminate one against the other.

You can maybe even make the whole population say that 2+2=5

But it should be obvious to everyone that even if you had the powers of God Almighty himself you can never make gay and straight marriages “the same thing” and the motive to try do so is of highly questionable origin.

I think what Ms Phillips objects to is the strange idea that we should stop playing silly buggers and treat everyone the same regardless of gender.

Perhaps could have been phrased better, Watchman.

Maybe…

Although it would be interesting to know if she has objections to buggery, or just to gay marriage, or just an incoherent bundle of prejudices brought out on demand for a newspaper column…

@36 No one is proposing to make churches bless same-sex unions, they are however proposing to allow those churches who wish to bless them to be able to do so.

@ 36

“But it should be obvious to everyone that even if you had the powers of God Almighty himself you can never make gay and straight marriages “the same thing” and the motive to try do so is of highly questionable origin.”

Why is it impossible to view them as “the same thing”, and why do you regard the motives of those wishing to see regarded as such as highly questionable?

41. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 Pagar

“But it should be obvious to everyone that even if you had the powers of God Almighty himself you can never make gay and straight marriages “the same thing” and the motive to try do so is of highly questionable origin.”

Depends what you mean. The only difference is that gay/straight marriages involve two people of the same sex instead of two people of the opposite sex. Other than that they’re factually, if not legally, identical.

To take Chaise’s point one step further…

The only way in which we differentiate marriage and civil partnership is that one involves two people of different genders, the other two people of the same.

But what if we stopped caring about gender – what if we abolished it as a legal concept (not a bad idea actually…)? After all, you can change gender anyway, biologically there are more than two genders, and it actually stops us seeing people as individuals because this label gets in the way. Obviously in real life people can still be male, female or whatever the hell they want, but there is no legal implications.

How then would Pagar be able to say the difference is obvious, unless you are going on physical appearance. And on that basis why is mixed or same gender marriage any different from mixed or same race marriage?

You do have to laugh at the wing nuts obsession with the gay. In particular their belief that gays threaten the institution of marriage. In America there are many right wing politicians and blow hards like Limbaugh, Gingrich, and many others who put forward this view.

Trouble is they are all divorced and re married, and in some cases divorced and re…. re married. The biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage is heterosexuals.

let’s have straight civil partnerships.

@ 42 Watchman

“And on that basis why is mixed or same gender marriage any different from mixed or same race marriage?”

It isn’t. It simply suits the fundamentalists, religious bigots and right wing carpet biters to maintain that it is. Of course those howling against the wind about it are doomed to lose the moral argument in just the same way that the racist bigots lost the argument about civil rights and equality in the past. Like the dinosaurs however, it takes a good long while for the message to get from the tail to the brain.

Gallen/Chaise/Watchman

Why is it impossible to view them as “the same thing”

Well, the most obvious difference is that straight marriage has the potential to result in natural procreation whereas gay marriage does not.

Even if you do not add value to a heterosexual relationship on the basis of this element and argue that a gay relationship has equal value, it is, nevertheless, a difference.

And, being different, they cannot, logically, be argued to be “the same”.

why do you regard the motives of those wishing to see regarded as such as highly questionable?

Because it is foolish to ignore or try to alter reality in pursuit of a socio-political agenda.

2+2= ??????

@46 I believe you are confusing the act of intercourse for marriage there pagar. Having sex with someone of the opposite sex has the potential to result in children, marriage – not so much.

46 pagar

Utter nonsense. One might as well say a heterosexual marriage which didn’t result in children was “different”… but as you well know, the subtext for all the crazy bigots is that gay = wrong, which is no more defensible than saying mixed race marriage = wrong.

I think we are some way doen the road from arguing that the only point of marriage is procreation!

It’s not about trying to alter reality..it’s about equal rights. anyone who thinks otherwise is being disingenuous.

as you well know, the subtext for all the crazy bigots is that gay = wrong, which is no more defensible than saying mixed race marriage = wrong.

Agreed.

Nevertheless you should not be tempted, by your compulsion to prove that all fruits have equal value, to argue that an apple is a pear.

Cylux @32

interesting you should raise the Rally for Sanity, the rally itself was blasted by liberals for being all fluff and no substance. Indeed the rally attendees were probably more concerned with seeing Colbert and Stewart than making any sort of political point.

Fair enough – I didn’t see that analysis. It looks like it was a fun day out.
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-100-best-signs-at-the-rally-to-restore-sanity

What’s the point of criticising ”Mad Mel” though? It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

John B

Damon: gotta ask, if you’re not a troll or spamlord, why’re you trying so hard to promote that particular Spiked article? If you’d written it, that’d be fair play…

Does it matter where the argument came from? If someone can say it better than me, then the source isn’t rally that important is it?
I thought that highlighting some attitudes of liberals before the US presidential election to ”redneck hillbillies” who supposedly clung on to their guns and the bible, had a parallel here in this thread to people who didn’t fully ”get” the idea of gay marriage and ridiculled for that.

If you want to call that trolling, then good for you.

@50 If you’re really interested, Chase Whiteside interviewed a few of the participants of the Rally to Restore Sanity, as well as interviewing some at Glenn Beck’s Restoring honor rally.

52. Chaise Guevara

@ 49 Pagar

“Nevertheless you should not be tempted, by your compulsion to prove that all fruits have equal value, to argue that an apple is a pear.”

Nobody is though. As has been pointed out, the fact that a straight married couple can, in theory, have children is not really relevant. I genuinely can’t see a significant difference between the two.

53. Chaise Guevara

@ 44 John P Reid

“let’s have straight civil partnerships.”

Agreed.

@ Chaise

As has been pointed out, the fact that a straight married couple can, in theory, have children is not really relevant.

Secure child rearing has always been one of the key rationales for marriage in all religions and civil contracts.

Of course it is not an imperative but it is disingenuous to argue that it is an irrelevance.

55. Chaise Guevara

@ 54 Pagar

“Secure child rearing has always been one of the key rationales for marriage in all religions and civil contracts.”

You could say much the same about male/female relationships. The point is that it’s not essential to marriage and, regardless of historical rationale, doesn’t make straight and gay marriages notably different. You may as well say that UK marriages have always (well, almost) involved a single penis and a single vagina.

“Of course it is not an imperative but it is disingenuous to argue that it is an irrelevance.”

Given that sex rather than marriage brings about children, and that marriage is in no way needed for secure child rearing, I can’t see how it’s particularly relevant here.

Yes, there are differences, but they are outweighed by the similarities. You’re talking about distinctions that are relatively superficial. If the term up for debate were “human” rather than “marriage”, you could not deny that a red-haired human and a blonde-haired human were different, but you presumably wouldn’t claim that they were massively different types of human.

Secure child rearing has always been one of the key rationales for marriage in all religions and civil contracts.

Given the possibility of adoption/fostering this argument does not actually count against same-sex marriage.

@24 pagar: “To say that we can’t compel religious groups not to discriminate because their God tells them they must do so is illogical when the law demands compliance in non-discrimination from everyone else.”

In a liberal society we do not construct laws on a literal clause-by-clause basis. We establish it on liberal philosophy, which understands that some people may wish to act illiberally. In some cases (eg civil marriage in a secular location), law is strong; law does not intrude into non-secular or religious environments unless there is an overwhelming right.

The proposed reform does not require that religious organisations provide their buildings for civil ceremonies or conduct weddings. It suggests that ceremonies may be held in religious buildings and that relationships can be blessed.

There is no compunction, so no illiberalism.

@ 57

I doubt you really mean ‘compunction’ in that sentence.

‘Compulsion’ would make more sense.

@58 Flowerpower

Ta.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    RT @libcon: Melanie Phillips rails against gay marriage http://bit.ly/hZocvc

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    Melanie Phillips rails against gay marriage: Source: liberalconspiracy.org — Monday, February 14, 2011Oh joy, … http://bit.ly/eJSQtl

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    RT @libcon: Melanie Phillips rails against gay marriage http://bit.ly/hZocvc

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    RT @libcon: Melanie Phillips rails against gay marriage http://bit.ly/hZocvc >>> votes for dogs and horses next, eh Melanie





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