Southern Religion

Conscience, discrimination and UK same-sex civil marriage

A conservative British Christian public official is battling for the right to refuse to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

The offended conscience of registrar for the Islington council Lillian Ladele, 48, is being defended by the Christian Institute.

The British Civil Partnership Act of 2004 gave same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to those of a traditional civil marriage. Performing attendant ceremonies is part of a registrar’s job.

Some British Christians argue that if they are not permitted to eschew such duties as a matter of conscience, they will be “marginalized” out of public life. That argument isn’t turning out well for Ladle. The Guardian writes:

Ladele, who brought a discrimination claim in 2007, is appealing a ruling by the employment appeal tribunal last December that Islington council had been entitled to view her conduct as amounting to “unacceptable discrimination”.

“[Ladele’s actions] offended some gay employees and involved discriminating against third parties making use of the services of the council,” the tribunal said.

This sounds a lot like the Louisiana case in which a justice of the peace refused to wed a biracial couple. In a country whose president is the product of a biracial union. It reminds us that painstaking Biblical rationalizations of American slavery were once commonplace. Yet we understand that conscience is not somehow a legal justification for racial discrimination.


November 2, 2009 - Posted by | Religion

1 Comment

  1. “Yet we understand that conscience is not somehow a legal justification for racial discrimination.”

    But do we also understand that conscience is not a legal justification for sexual orientation discrimination?

    We have a long history of conscientious objection here in America. I wouldn’t afford this registrar a conscientious exemption. But certainly there is a need to balance the rights of conscience against the rights of sexual minorities in the arena of nondiscrimination law.

    The best solution is broad, reasonable conscientious exemptions of both the religious and philosophical/ideological variety.

    Comment by Big Daddy Weave | November 2, 2009

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