Allow Gay Marriage In Chapel

LEWIS BARTLETT wants to be allowed to be married in chapel. No matter who it's with.

It now seems that by the time I actually find someone suitable, marriage will be a possibility for my fellow homos and me. Obama’s most recent announcement, coupled with our own government consultation, points to an increasing acceptance for gay marriage.

What a divisive idea that is. While I might occupy myself with the choice between a Maid of Honour and a Best Man, the reality is that there are a lot of people who really do not want to see same-sex couples saunter down the aisle. Not that such people would be invited, anyway.

I’m no stranger to the arguments against me when I mention the suddenly huge topic of gay marriage, having already challenged Archbishop Sentamu about his opposition earlier this year. Despite my letter and its reply, and the best efforts of certain individuals and groups, I am yet to see any substantial counter-argument against gay marriage. Procreation and raising children? Gay couples adopt all the time, while plenty of childless hetero couples get married. That marriage is a traditional, unchanging institution? Take your pick from the issues of divorce, inter-race, or Gretna Green marriages. Religious disagreements? Sorry, I must have missed our transition into a theocracy where civil marriages stopped being a thing.

Maybe I’m blinded by my vision of the perfect wedding cake, but having had a fairy-tale rite promised to me practically from birth, I fail to see how the problems of people I will never know should deny me my day. In fact, if I were to slip off and marry, I’m pretty sure their lives wouldn’t change in any way. At all.

But assuming that Mr Cameron maintains the UK’s status as the “best place to live as LGBT in Europe”; and continues to insist that the current consultation is about how to implement, not whether to implement such a welcome change, my speculation turns to something I overhear in Cambridge all too often: religious, and in particular College Chapel, marriages.

While Selwyn’s chapel is glorious, my rather cold and distant relationship with any formal religion means I’m not sure it would be right for my own big day. But the same is not true for everyone. Being gay and having a faith are not mutually exclusive, and this begs the question of just where the next set of battle lines will be drawn, of whether all my friends will be allowed to marry in the place they met and spent their most formative years. College chapel marriages are a solely heterosexual right, and an important part of an alumnus’s relationship with their college; a right denied to so many in this university.

Mr Obama has (finally) jumped on the pro-homo bandwagon, with his announcement in favour of equal rights, – make no mistake, that is what we’re discussing here – poignantly timed to follow North Carolina’s state constitutional ban on recognising same sex couples. The debates there mirror the debates here, and I can’t help but appeal to history to sort them out.

Support for gays marrying is on the rise, and unrest about the current lack of equality is clear, no matter which institution gets involved. Be it the legions of pro-gay marriage Church of England ministers, or the surprisingly defiant Cameron in the face of his rebelling backbenchers. In the states, the similarity to the fight for inter-racial marriage 45 years ago is uncanny, and a generation later its former illegality is inconceivable.

I can’t help but think, rather Whiggishly I admit, that in another few decades this whole debate will be looked upon with the exact same wonder attached to all major civil rights movements: how could people be so terribly, shamefully bigoted?



  • Should have

    applied to Emma

    • he's not clever

      would've got pooled

    • Mr. Cultured

      I'm tempted to get a chapel wedding with a bloke just because I can (no homo).

  • Burke

    me and molly want to get married!

  • umm

    I don't know why you'd want to get married in a college – that's a bit weird.

    • Well

      Not because it's weird, but if hoes be marrying after 2 years, hoes gun' be divorced by 30. No lie.

  • Uncle A

    Good, well-written article – I fully agree.

  • Fudge Packer

    Great idea!

    • Fudge Packer

      Why does everyone hate me just because I work part time in the Fudge shop on King's parade :(

  • actions not words

    great argument, avoiding the self-righteousness that usually accompanies the expectation history will be on your side.
    but as it's a rare issue cambridge students in our little bubble can get off our arses and do something about, why not start a petition or ask people to sign an open letter?
    otherwise everyone you persuade or who agrees will go 'right, gay marriage, great' and sod off back to the books without giving it another thought.

    • So obvious!

      Whereas by signing a letter makes the kind of deep and meaningful committment that is so much less transient

    • Selwynite

      Umm, he already did:

      "Despite my letter and its reply".

      Although he doesn't make clear that it was actually a letter on behalf of the Selwyn JCR, or that the referendum on whether to send it attracted one of the highest turnouts in Selwyn JCR's recent history. I think that counts as action, not words…


      • Selwynian

        But Bartlett blatantly didn't put much thought into Sentamu's reply – to say he read it and is still "yet to see any substantial counter-argument" strikes me as rather a head-in-the-sand situation. And if he's not even religious, why should he give a flying ferret what the Church thinks about it?

        Also, he wasn't really writing on 'behalf' of the JCR – turnout was 59%, and from memory roughly 65%(?) voted for it? So less than 40% of the JCR actually agreed that he should send it – don't try to tie us onto his illogical bandwagon.

  • headliner

    'allow' in this headline is both potentially confusing (as in, don't bother), but even if you aren't confused the headline is a bit boring.

    • Not an Engling

      Do you even know what allow means??

      • shame

        yes. do you even understand that sometimes words can have more than one meaning?

    • Yuuuuckkk!!!.

      Why on earth would you assume it meant 'allow' as in 'don't bother'??? Wasn't 'allow' only used in that sense by 'wanna be' chavs about five years ago???

      • Schooldayz

        Allow dat blaad, oy set me a pencil, I aksed nicely!


        I remember it well

        • seriously

          you guys all need to chill out, people say it, sorry.

  • Why?

    It still baffles me that any institution or person can still discriminate on the basis of gender when discrimination on race is illegal. Heck, the church still doesn't allow female Bishops…

    • CUSU Nuncio


      Fuck off.

    • Priest

      Well the Catholic church still doesn't allow female Priests let alone Bishops, but assuming that by 'the church' you mean Church of England, then actually the official stance of the Church of England says that women can be Bishops, it's just that so far there hasn't been one.

    • Well

      probably because it abides by the biblical teachings on marriage and ordination, which don't allow same sex marriage or female church leadership. What's the point of get married in a church in front of God, if you don't agree with the Church or the Bible?

  • Not just heter-only

    When I filled out all my "coming up" paperwork there was a form from the then-chaplain asking for a declaration of religion and denomination. The question was accompanied by a note explaining that only Christian students, who played an active part in the life of the chapel, would be able to marry there in future. So really, the vast majority of us won't be entitled to this. Just sayin.

    • really?

      with which College are you affiliated?

      and what about people who played an active part in chapel life despite not being Christian (e.g.: sing in the choir or something?)

    • Actually…

      Well, to be honest I think this is fair. Theoretically, to get married in a church you have to be a Christian who has played an active part in that Church (although obviously the definition of this can be and has been stretched pretty widely). A college Chapel should be no different in that sense. If people want to get married in their college chapel, it's only reasonable that they should be involved with the chapel for at least some of their time in Cambridge. A chapel is not just another college building, it has a particular sacred function. If you want to get married in college, then almost all colleges will let you have a reception there and have the ceremony itself elsewhere (where perhaps you have spent more time as a Christian). That's fine. But if you want to get married in the college chapel, you should be a part of that Christian community, just as you would be for a marriage at any other church, cathedral or chapel. Marriage in a particular building is not a right that you have by virtue of having lived in its vicinity – you have to put in the groundwork to get that privilege.

      • And also…

        (…As for gay marriage, which was the original point – yes, of course. If a gay couple is involved in the college chapel, they have as much right to get married there as a straight couple – but only if their involvement is in the chapel, not just the college. Simple.)

  • agree with you but..

    regarding civil same-sex marriage.. but I don't think it's fair to force any religious institution to authorize marriages to which they are conscientiously objected. Like you say there are loads of pro gay marriage C of E ministers but there are also loads who aren't. Surely if the minister (or whoever carries out the ceremony) doesn't believe in gay marriage for religious reasons, government has no right to force them to act against their conscience…

    That's why Sentamu called Cameron a 'dictator' because this isn't just a government issue. Any change in favour of religious same-sex marriages has to come from within the Church itself

  • agree with you

    regarding civil same-sex marriage.. but I don't think it's fair to force any religious institution to authorize marriages to which they are conscientiously objected. Like you say there are loads of pro gay marriage C of E ministers but there are also loads who aren't. Surely if the minister (or whoever carries out the ceremony) doesn't believe in gay marriage for religious reasons, government has no right to force them to act against their conscience…

    • sick of excuses

      NO. NO. NO. At one stage religious institutions could probably conscientiously object to interracial marriages. That obviously wouldn't stand up these days. How is this any different. We can't say some forms of discrimination are less bad than others. Even on religious grounds, giving way to those who discriminate against LGBTs legitimises discrimination when really all discrimination is unacceptable

      • umm

        How exactly do you plan to force ministers who don't agree with gay marriage to authorize it in their churches? Maybe make them resign? Lock them up until they do?

        I agree with religious same sex marriage in all forms if it was up to me.. but it's not up to me or you or the government, it's up to the Church. I think a more important issue here is government telling the clergy what to believe which it obviously doesn't have the right to do.

        If the government does legalize gay marriage, ministers must be allowed to conscientiously object and simply direct the couple to another church under a minister who does approve it… It's not ideal but it's fairer to LGBTs than the system we have now and avoids discriminating against C of E ministers for their religious beliefs. And as you say all discrimination is unacceptable..

  • from a theologian

    marriage according to jesus is about becoming 'one flesh' i.e the sexual union. it cannot be broken as it is the same as the relationship between god and the church. this is ALL jesus says marriage was, so gay or straight couples having sex out of wedlock are technically married to that person. therefore, the problem is people's view of sex, not of marriage. sexual relationships should only be with one person. although i do not necessarily believe that a homosexual relationship is what nature intended (as following the logic of universalisation – if we universalised homosexuality the human race would die out), this does not mean that homosexuals should not be treated equally, as clearly being homosexual is not a choice. therefore, true equality means one partner for life – same for straight and gay couples.

    • All logical until…

      I think your last sentence there is a bit of a leap of logic…

      • theologian

        equality in the sense that straight and gay couples should be treated the same. but for all people according to the bible marriage means one sexual partner. as once you 'become flesh' it cant be broken.

        • Oh dear

          Yay rape marriage!

    • Logic

      If we universalised women the human race would die out

      Thus women are not what nature intended


      • theologian

        women are not an action. it is not being a homosexual that i was speaking about but the homosexual act of sex.

        • Lecture Handout

          "On the practical interpretation, the CI generates false negatives. E.g.: A maxim of saving money by shopping in this year’s after-Christmas sales for next year’s Christmas presents comes out as morally impermissible."

        • Obviously

          Well, that doesn't follow because it's quite possible for everyone to have both homosexual and heterosexual sex, and the human race would be fine.

          But, in further news, "the logic of universalisation" is bullshit, even when just applied to actions.

          For example, let's take the action of "making people well again as a career". But if everyone did this, no one would be farming, teaching, policing etc. etc. Human society would collapse.

          Seriously, this is a flawed line of argument. You seem to be elegantly highlighting a flaw in the categorical imperative as a guide.

          Furthermore, anyone mentioning the phrase "what nature intended" in a line of argument has already lost. If you don't know why, how the fuck did you get into Cambridge?

    • Gayer and Gaia

      Pretty sure that nature can't 'intend' anything.

      • theologian

        clever name. but the very purpose of evolution is survival.

        • Gayer and Gaia

          Again with the false personifying. Evolution can't 'intend' anything, any more than DNA can want to survive.

          Also, I reject the idea of that universalisation of actions is relevant. There has been some suggestion amongst evolutionary theorists explaining the prevalence of homosexuality among mammals that there are good evolutionary reasons for it. They apply, however, to groups, not to individuals.

        • gayologian

          yep and we're doing a really good job of killing each other, so perhaps the purpose of evolution is the survival of a species that isn't straight human beings.

          • Not really…

            "we're doing a really good job of killing each other"

            Human population: 7 billion and climbing

            Must do better.

            • just wondering

              On that note…

              Contraception is not what nature intended.

              If 'we' universalised heterosexuality, populations would surpass the capacity of the environment that supports them much faster. This would lead to more epidemics, famine and conflict, which in turn lead to rapid and extreme population drops. If a couple have a large number children, doesn't it become advantageous to the continuation of that couple's DNA if some of the children *don't* produce more mouths to feed?

              • Malthus

                Yeah, probly.

  • Tyrone

    This headline reflects my opinion exactly. I probably mean it in a different light though. Allow gay marriages ennit

    • tyrone


  • couldn't care


  • Hmmm…

    You wouldn't pass legislation forcing vegetarians to eat meat.

    So why then would you pass legislation forcing Christians to condone gay marriage?

    • mmmmh?

      now that's a flawed analogy.

      "you wouldn't pass legislation forcing vegetarians to eat meat". no, and I wouldn't pass legislation forcing Christian men to have sex with other men.

      "So why then would you pass legislation forcing Christians to condone gay marriage?" Because vegetarians can have very little say over what OTHER people eat.

      You see how an analogy works?

      • Take two…

        You wouldn't pass legislation forcing vegetarian society headquarters to regularly be used for the purposes of animal slaughter.

        Why then would you insist that Christian churches be used for gay marriage?

        • analogy police

          i've never, ever heard of vegetarian society headquarters. and what kind of vegetarian society has its headquarters in a place that has the facilities for animal slaughter?

          i may be a douchey pedant, but you are an idiot.

    • free-market religion

      I kind of agree; say if the government saw all "partnerships" as marriage status but that individual sects/ religions can choose at their relative synod to practice gay marriage ceremonies in the faith.

      In society everyone is equal but frustration is then pushed to the faith responsible….

    • Silly analogy

      Because vegetarians not eating meat at least has some defendable moral arguments behind it. As pointed out in the article, the stance taken by many religions against homosexuality doesn't. It's purely based on indulgence of the same instinct that gave us such cultural delights as racism and sexism. Oh, and something that somebody similarly bigoted wrote thousands of years ago before going on to describe the evil of wearing clothes made of more than one material.

      • Disagree

        You assume that secular morality is superior to everything else, and to some extent at least it should be forced upon everyone else.

        Most people in the world believe in a God, and believe that they derive their morality from him. Which if you accept his existence in the first place, is a pretty convincing argument.

        Yours is but one viewpoint among many. Your militant insistence that it is right makes you little better than religious fundamentalists in my opinion.

        • Yeah but

          "Most people in the world believe in a God, and believe that they derive their morality from him"
          Oh really? Is that why most Christians pick and choose from the Bible? For example:
          – Don't eat shellfish
          – Don't eat clothes made from a linen/wool mix
          – It's cool to pretend to your son that you're going to kill him if God says so
          – It's ok to sell your daughters into slavery
          – It's ok to offer your daughters up for gang rape
          – Incest is awesome
          … and so on. Christians do not get morals from the Bible but impose morality on the Bible by picking and choosing. I guarantee it's the same with other religions.

          • A Christian

            Bit of a mini-essay, hope you'll bear with me…

            Many laws in the old testament are not adhered to by Christians. Your examples of not eating shellfish (kosher diet) and not mixing fibres fall under this, as do the requirements of animal sacrifice and avoiding contact with women who are on their period. When Jesus came he made it clear that he was instituting a new type of relationship between humanity and God, one which did not require adherence to large sections of Mosaic law.

            Many books of the bible are categorised by contemporary scholars as 'historical books'. They give accounts of historical events. Hence examples you cite of incest and the case of a daughter being offered up for gang rape are simply things that happened. It does not mean that they are considered to be morally right or acting in accordance with God's will. It certainly doesn't mean that such acts are advocated.

            Abraham was not 'pretending' to kill Issac for a laugh, he was actually going to do it. The bible states that God told Abraham to do so in order to test his faith, but then intervened to stop him at the last minute. Similarly to the previous two examples, it is a record of a historical event. In many later books of the bible it is stated frequently and clearly that Christians should not murder or threaten to murder anyone.

            Personally I don't think I pick and choose at all, for me the bible fits together fine. I feel that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about Christianity, in large part arising from people isolating individual verses and considering them out of context.

    • LAD

      Being gay and vegetarian are pretty much the same thing

  • Consistency????

    If we had a college mosque I doubt people would seriously advocate using it for gay marriage. Maybe if Christians threatened to bomb or behead their political opponents British society would respect their beliefs more.

    • BNP
    • Yeah but

      Our country is constitutionally Christian. Therefore citizens of it take part in Christian ceremonies traditionally. I'm very happy to make us officially a secular country, and stop paying taxes that go towards faith schools etc. and then you can all shut up your churches to all us evil atheists.

      • Lionhearted Rich

        I deffo tried the whole "Christians terrorising and beheading" thing. Haters Gonna Hate.

      • Despair

        Why oh why is our country constitutionally Christian?? Hardly anyone is a Christian today and of those Christians only a minority are Anglican…

    • A Muslim

      or maybe it's because a lot of muslims don't even get married in a mosque? islamic centre maybe, but rarely an actual mosque.

      shut up now because your ignorance is giving me a headache.

  • relevant?
  • Liberal Theologian

    As some of the comments above have mentioned, you have unfortunately confused the role of the government and the Church with regards to this issue.

    Firstly, it is not anyone's 'right' to get married in any particular chapel or church. It is a privilege given to those who are eligible at the discretion of the particular clergyman/woman who will potentially marry them. If the Church of England eventually condones gay marriage this will still be the case, and rightly so as I'm sure you agree.

    However, at the moment, no minister in the CofE is permitted to marry same-sex couples as it conflicts with the decision made in 2007 by the General Synod and with recent statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore, regardless of a certain minister's personal beliefs that may be to the contrary, their hands are tied – don't blame them for it.

    Secondly, your 'Whiggish' remarks regarding the 'bigots' in the Church are incredibly unhelpful and betray your deep misunderstanding of the Christian opposition.

    USUALLY, It does not come from a place of automatic discrimination against the LGBT community as you have said in the past, but rather over the definition of marriage, which they see as a sacrament that can only take place between a man and a woman.

    Although I believe they are mistaken in this, it is still a personal religious belief that deserves respect, just as yours does.

    What is needed is a continuing and patient debate, sympathetic and respectful of both sides' beliefs in which compromises can be made to better serve the public. The petty name calling and slander that has come from both ends of the spectrum in which you are currently engaging is preventing this from happening.

    • Clearly

      Not that great a theologian if you are describing marriage as a sacrament within the CoE

    • No.

      Blah blah everyone's point of view is equally valid etc. etc.
      That's what they said about people who thought interracial marriage was wrong, too.

  • Anon

    I think it comes down to the question: Why would a gay couple want to get married in college chapel?

    I completely understand feeling marginalised in terms of 'it's a college thing that everyone gets to do' but I think the issue should be approached in terms of personal conviction, and in particular faith individuals hold.

    A heterosexual couple wanting to get married may well choose to do so within a chapel, and if this is the case they should consider the implications of this. As in, they are choosing not to get married in terms of legality or even purely love for each other, but to make this statement within the context of the Christian faith. If they disagree with or do not hold Christian beliefs then it seems an odd idea to get married in a chapel. In the same line, it seems out of place for a homosexual couple to want to get married in this Christian context if they don't conform to the doctrines of the Bible. The Christian doctrine is very clear (as has been said above) that marriage should be between a woman and a man, representative of God's relationship with the church. From this brief description I think it is clear why so many Christians are opposed to same-sex marriage within the context of church.

    So, I think the question is not "why are we marginalising homosexuals from chapel marriages?" but should be "why would anyone want to get married in the chapel if they don't believe in the Christian doctrine of marriage?"

  • Thomas Aquinas

    I bet you've never even been to chapel. If you knew the first thing about what you're saying then you'd know better. Marriage = one man, one woman, forever.

    • you

      are a dick.

    • What a fool

      Good luck in life with that narrow mind.

  • Richard

    Actually, this whole "gay-marriage" thing is crying out for a compsci to sort it out. Here's the solution:

    /* this function is deprecated, due to confusion over its usage */

    make_legal_partnership (a,b){
    /* create a legal contract between two people. This allows them to contract
    with one another for mutual support, and to allocate their state-benefits
    such as tax-free inheritance to one another */

    make_spiritual_partnership( a, b, r){
    /* rules for validity of a,b vary, depending on religion r. */

    /* This function is not defined by any authority except the N people involved */

    status_quo_for_straight_christians (a,b){
    /* Current situation. Would remain an option under new codebase */
    make_spiritual_partnership (a,b,CofE)
    make_legal_partnership (a,b);

    In a truly enlightened society, all 3 functions should be completely independent. Personally, I wish to legally marry someone I love, but not in church. But if I never marry, I should be able to delegate my inheritance-tax benefits to my brother. Were I a mormon, I should want a single legal wife, but might form a polygamous "spiritual partnership". If I were an asymmetrically-divorced Catholic, I might want to re-marry in law if not in church. Perhaps I might be in a loving relationship, but wish to grant my "UK partner's residence rights" to a close friend from another country.

    • Every Gay CompSci

      Will you marry me?

    • tl;dr

      A TPJ joke would have been easier and funnier

    • Question

      "Personally, I wish to legally marry someone I love"
      Is it your laptop?

  • Down to earth

    Why would you want to get married in a chapel anyway?

    Religion is selective bullshit where you can blame your mistakes on an imaginary friend. The fact it can't accept two people of the same sex in love just shows how deluded and dated it is.

    Cue the haters….

    • Hater

      Well, I actually have the opposite opinion to you, but agree with your point.

      If you don't like religion, the GTFO of our chapels and churches and don't pester our Bishops with your narrow minded views. Why do you care what Christians think about it then?

    • Query

      I'm curious – in which religion do you blame your mistakes on an imaginary friend?

  • anthony


  • this is

    so fecking gay.

  • Terry Balfour

    Yes,why not allow marriages to occur here,after all people in love is better than folk who hate being able to access this service….

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