Obergefell v Hodges: legal analyses

Legal analyses of the recent US judgment in Obergefell v Hodges on same-sex marriage

Our recent weekly round-up reported that last week, the US Supreme Court handed down judgment in Obergefell v Hodges 576 US ___ (2015), and by five votes to four, the Court held that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment oblige all states to provide for same-sex marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages granted in other states. The majority conclusion was: Continue reading

Archbishop of Canterbury response to US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage

The Anglican Communion News Service, (ACNS), reports that Lambeth Palace has issued the following statement following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury today expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed. Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 28th June

As we continued to digest Laudato si’, there were landmark rulings on same-sex marriage in the US and on national CO2 reduction targets in the Netherlands

Same-sex marriage and SCOTUS

On Friday the US Supreme Court handed down judgment in Obergefell v Hodges 576 US ___ (2015).

By five votes to four (Kennedy, Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan JJ: Roberts CJ, Scalia, Thomas and Alito JJ dissenting) the Court held that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment oblige all states to provide for same-sex marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages granted in other states. Religion Clause has helpful short summaries of both the majority opinion delivered by Kennedy J and the dissents. The majority concludes:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.” Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 21st June

 A high profile for climate change this week with a new Lambeth declaration, a mass lobby of Parliament and the Pope’s encyclical Laudato si’

Climate change

In terms of its discussion of possible approaches to the mitigation of climate change, the most important 200-page document of the week was perhaps the World Energy Outlook Special Report of the International Energy Agency, (IEA), Energy and Climate Change. This complements the Policy Paper What will global annual emissions of greenhouse gases be in 2030, and will they be consistent with avoiding global warming of more than 2°C?, issued on 4 May by Nicholas Stern and others for ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).

Against this background, the publication of the Pope’s Encyclical Laudato si’ was a welcome intervention in highlighting the moral and ethical issues; as Lord Stern commented “Moral leadership on climate change from the Pope is particularly important because of the failure of many heads of state and government around the world to show political leadership”; along with most climate scientists, he acknowledged that Laudato si’ is “founded in the best science”. The urgency of the situation is stressed at several points within the document, which acknowledges that “the effects of climate change will be felt for a long time to come, even if stringent measures are taken now”, [170].  Continue reading

CofE Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal

This afternoon, the Church of England issued the following statement.

Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal

17 June 2015

“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and receive that support. The Church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversations about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Thinking Anglicans has further comment on the Nottingham Employment Tribunal here and here.

Religion and law round-up – 14th June

A week in which assisted dying was in the news again, the C of E appointed a new Secretary General, the Scottish Episcopal Church may have moved towards recognising same-sex marriage – and there was another episode in the Naked Rambler saga…

Assisted dying

When we suggested that Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill was unlikely to make much progress in the current session of Parliament we evidently spoke too soon. Rob Marris, Labour Member for Wolverhampton South West, came top of the Commons ballot for private Members’ bills and has decided to introduce an Assisted Dying Bill (presumably similar to or identical with Lord Falconer’s). It is set down for second reading on 11 September.

New Secretary General for the C of E Archbishops’ Council

The other big news of the week was that William Nye, currently Principal Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, is to succeed William Fittall as Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and of the General Synod, taking over full responsibility on 1 December.

Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare

In an earlier post we mentioned in passing that a London nursery worker, Ms Sarah Mbuyi, was suing Newark Childcare for unfair dismissal after she told a lesbian colleague about her beliefs on same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 31st May

A week in which the election of the boss of association football’s international trade cartel generated rather more media interest than the election of Pope Francis ever did…

The Queen’s Speech

There was quite a lot of interest in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday – as much for what was omitted as for what was included. Apart from the obvious issue of the in-out EU referendum, probably the most important items for religious organisations were the following:

  • The ‘protection of charities’ proposals in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill were largely inspired by the Cup Trust case and were the subject of considerable pre-legislative scrutiny in the last Parliament. Their purpose is to strengthen the Charity Commission’s ability to act in cases where it suspects abusive behaviour by trustees and/or managers by directing that a charity be closed down after an inquiry, issuing official warnings to charities and, in certain circumstances, by disqualifying any person deemed unfit to continue as a charity trustee or to serve in a position of influence within the charity. The social investment provisions, suggested by the Law Commission in its report of September 2014, are intended to clarify the powers of trustees – currently in doubt – to make investments that pursue both a financial and a social return.
  • The Scotland Bill will devolve further powers to the Scottish Parliament, including control over income tax, air passenger duty and borrowing.
  • The Extremism Bill will extend the powers of Government and law enforcement agencies to tackle what they perceive as extremism. In particular, it will provide for:

    • Banning Orders: a new power for the Home Secretary to ban extremist groups.
    • Extremism Disruption Orders: a new power for law enforcement to stop individuals engaging in extremist behaviour.
    • Closure Orders: a new power for law enforcement and local authorities to close down premises used to support extremism.

At the time of writing, the only Government Bills on the parliamentary web site were the  Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [Lords], the European Union Referendum Bill, the Scotland Bill and the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill (carried over from the 2014-15 session as provided for by the carry-over motion of 29 April 2014: HC Hansard 29 Apr 2014 Col 771).

The results of the ballot for private Peers’ bills 2015-16 are here.

As to the “British Bill of Rights, the Gracious Speech included the commitment that “My Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights”; but whether that was a promise of proposals for consultation or of an actual Bill (whether substantive or in draft for formal pre-legilsative scrutiny) is not clear. Continue reading