Wednesday, July 03, 2013
In sickness and in health? That’s too religious for a civil wedding in Britain
In the circumstances it is slightly surprising that the couple did not wed in a church. I did last time around and insisted on the full 1662 "Book of Common Prayer" service -- JR
But as Gary and Louise Lidington, from London, made final preparations for their wedding last weekend, they received an urgent telephone call from council registrars warning that they could not legally say the words “in sickness and in health”.
Officials in Tower Hamlets, east London, said that the phrase, which is used around the world, was too “religious” for a civil ceremony.
The couple, were forced to rewrite their vows, which they chose because of their traditional ring, just hours before the wedding, which took place on Saturday.
The phrase “to have and to hold” was also deemed too Christian, because of its echoes of the marriage service in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
But, after discussion, the council ruled that to it would be acceptable to say “to hold and to have”.
And they were allowed to replace “in sickness and in health” with “in sickness and when we are well”.
The couple said they had no choice but to agree to the change of wording or face having to call off their wedding.
But they were so baffled by the change that Mr Lidington, a barrister, stumbled over his lines as he said the new vows, while his wife, a public relations executive, was overcome by a fit of giggles.
The debacle shines the spotlight on confusion over the law on civil weddings in which religious elements such as hymns or Bible readings have been officially forbidden since 1837.
But the rules were relaxed eight years ago, as part of a wider overhaul of the civil weddings system, allowing couples to choose secular songs with religious references such as Aretha Franklin's “Say A Little Prayer” or Robbie Williams's “Angels”.
Wedding websites and books list a range of sample vows suitable for civil ceremonies including several which feature the traditional phrases chosen by Mr and Mrs Lidington.
The council apologised for the confusion but said they were concerned the vows did not comply with “with the relevant legality process”.
Arrangements for the wedding, held in Wilton’s Music Hall, in the east end, the oldest surviving Victorian theatre of its type, had been agreed for months.
Formalities such as the vows, had also apparently been approved at a meeting with registrars in February.
But on Friday afternoon Mrs Lidington, 39, received an urgent message on her mobile phone warning that there were legal problems.
“It was the registrar to say that she would not be able to marry us with these words and could I rewrite them over the phone,” she said.
Mrs Lidington explained they had chosen the vows from a website specifically because they were traditional without being overtly religious. “I was horrified by it because they are so important,” she said.
“They have just stood the test of time, they sound like poetry, they flow beautifully and they are just the form of words that you expect at a wedding. “Ever since I was 11 I just imagined that they would be the words I would use when I married my husband.
“It just seems ridiculous that words which don’t mention religion could be so problematic.”
But she added: “I just thought: 'I can’t be rude, I can’t be offensive because I have got stand in front of her tomorrow and pledge my life to my husband'.”
In the end the couple laughed off the legal difficulties and Mr Lidington, 43, surprised his wife during the speeches by asking her to join him by reciting the vows they had originally intended.
“Taking his lead, during my speech I said the words that we had originally chosen to him,” explained Mrs Lidington. “It was incredibly romantic, and got a standing ovation from our guests.”
Kate Thompson of the popular weddings website confetti.co.uk – which includes almost identical vows among its list of suggestions - said: “I’ve never come across anything like this before – it does sound ridiculous to me and I do feel sorry for the bride and groom that this happened at the 11th hour.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “We apologise for the short notice that Mr and Mrs Lidington received regarding changes to their chosen vows.
“It was important that their civil ceremony complied with the relevant legality process, and we worked closely with the couple to ensure that the vows they exchanged on their special day were as close as possible to those initially chosen by them.”
The council later pointed to a handbook for registrars which recommended avoiding phrases from the Prayer Book.
Trivialities that distract from bad policy
A few weeks ago I drove to Market Harborough for my test as a potential Ukip candidate. The process was very thorough. There was a media interview section, where one of my examiners did a bravura impersonation of a tricksy local radio presenter (he even did the traffic bulletin beforehand). Then came a test on the manifesto. Finally, there was the bit where I nearly came unstuck: the speeches.
My problem was that the stern lady interviewing me had seen me speak before. It was at one of Nigel Farage’s boozy fundraisers at the East India Club. Coming out as a Ukip member, I had vouchsafed to the audience, had been as thrilling as finally admitting you’re gay and realising you now have the pick of London’s finest fisting clubs.
The analogy — it just came splurging out: do such specialist venues even exist? — seemed to go down well with the lairier half of the room. But not the more sedate half. ‘It’s just as well my husband doesn’t know what fisting is!’ my examiner rebuked me. The impression I got — though we parted on excellent terms — was that she wasn’t 100 per cent sure I was the kind of person she’d like to be representing her party in Westminster or Brussels.
It’s a reasonable concern, I think. Polished, smoothy-chops, Shakespeare–quoting Dan Hannan I ain’t. Nor am I as clever or fluent or subtle as Michael Gove; nor as capable and diligent as Owen Paterson (who holds the parliamentary record for most questions tabled on a single subject: over 600 on badgers); nor as funny and charismatic as Boris Johnson; nor as palpably decent and admirable as Frank Field; nor as mad-keen dedicated to constituency work as Rory -Stewart; nor as brutally effective as, say, George Galloway or Alex Salmond.
What’s more, I don’t even like politics. It’s ideas that interest me, not committee meetings and backstabbing and negotiation and compromise and other people’s crap speeches. I think it’s as well that my potential supporters are aware of this before we go any further: if you vote James Delingpole what you’re going to get is James Delingpole — not ‘James Delingpole does a half-arsed impression of what other people think a politician should look like’. Let me tell you some of things I won’t do. Peter Hain — my perfect anti-role-model — gave me some excellent examples on Any Questions? the other day. One is the cloying, sanctimonious speech designed to Show How Much You Care. Because we were in Machynlleth, scene of the murder of April Jones, Hain just couldn’t resist grandstanding about how sincerely he felt everyone’s pain.
Hain has form in this regard. This was, as far as I’m aware, the first time in recorded history where Hain didn’t use Any Questions? to cram in at least five mentions of the heroic and selfless role he played as a young man in the struggle against apartheid. But I suppose that wouldn’t have left space for the three mentions he managed to squeeze in of another of his pet topics – the expensive, pointless, environmentally destructive Severn Barrage project.
Don’t get me wrong. I get as upset by a child’s senseless murder as the next sentient human being. What I can’t bear, though, is this formulaic parading of empathy that so many politicians feel is required of them these days. Especially when it’s followed by a posturing demand for yet more intrusive and counterproductive government -legislation.
Cant — that’s what politicians like Hain specialise in. (Change the odd letter and it also describes what they are.) And I absolutely refuse to engage in it, no matter how much cheap applause it wins me, because it’s intellectually dishonest, morally wrong and, worst of all, conducive to ill-considered, knee-jerk policymaking.
The electorate, I fear, are as much to blame for this as the political class. We pay far too much attention to surface trivia, like how much MPs claim in expenses or how nicely they answer your letter grumbling about the potholes in their constituency, and far too little about what matters most: the social and economic consequences of their bad decisions.
Consider just one example: the 2008 Climate Change Act — drafted by hard-left environmental activist Bryony Worthington, voted for by all but five MPs — will cost the taxpayer £18.3 billion every year for the next forty years, driving up the cost of energy but doing absolutely nothing to solve the largely imaginary problem of ‘climate change’. Do you know how many £1,600 ornamental duck houses you could buy with that every year? More than 11 million.
No one benefits if politicians are forever worrying about what some chippy, resentful git might think about their salary or their travelling first class. Nor if they are forever treading on eggshells to avoid saying or doing anything at which some lefty pressure group or some hysterical Twitter troll might choose to take offence. God knows, our political class are far too dull and career-safe as it is.
But what I do think they ought to be terrified of, all the time — to the extent that it keeps them awake at night, sweating cold fear — is enacting poor policy. You can be the most devoted constituency MP in the world with the most parsimonious expenses record in Westminster, but if you’ve spoken up for or voted for something as ill-thought-through and damaging as HS2 or renewable energy policy, then, quite simply, you have failed your country and your name deserves to live in infamy.
So that’s where I stand. There’s the deal. Take me or leave me: I really don’t mind which.
The judge was biased: He was anti-press
He didn't care about misdeeds by others
Lord Justice Leveson has been plunged into new controversy after a police whistleblower revealed he was prevented from exposing how senior officers used the media to smear each other.
Peter Tickner, a former anti-fraud investigator, said he wanted to reveal dirty tricks campaigns within Scotland Yard to the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics last year – but was gagged from doing so.
Speaking publicly for the first time, the official claims senior figures within the Met Police prevented him from ‘speaking a truth that no one wanted to hear’.
Mr Tickner says he told Lord Justice Leveson that he wanted to reveal how senior officers leaked information to the media to discredit rivals and promote their own careers.
But days before he was due to give his evidence he was told by a member of the inquiry team he would be denied the chance to do so.
The judge made his ruling after objections by the Metropolitan Police.
The controversy follows recent claims of double standards at the inquiry, launched in response to phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News International newspapers.
But in recent weeks, it has emerged that phone hacking is commonly used by other non-media businesses, including law and insurance firms, yet was largely ignored by Leveson, with only a passing reference in his final report.
The judge has also has been criticised for refusing to investigate claims of a conflict of interest over the love affair between Carine Patry Hoskins, a barrister at the inquiry, and David Sherborne, who represented hacking victim Hugh Grant.
Last night, Tory MP Rob Wilson said: ‘It is a matter of great concern that the Leveson inquiry ruled out potentially significant evidence about the conduct of the police.
‘It is increasingly clear that it focused on the press, while going soft on wrongdoing by others. It raises concerns as to whether Leveson gave a balanced account.
This is very worrying given recent disturbing revelations about police conduct. Mr Tickner’s evidence must be properly looked at.’
Mr Tickner was the former director of internal audits at Scotland Yard investigating the misuse of funds, but left the Met in 2009.
He signed a confidentiality agreement before he left, which prevented him from going public about his concerns, so says the Leveson Inquiry was the only forum which granted him protection from speaking out.
Mr Tickner took early retirement in 2009 to set up his own investigative and audit business.
In a draft statement to Leveson, he told of three high-profile cases in which he believed senior officers used their access to confidential material to leak information to newspapers in a bid to destroy internal rivals.
The leaks apparently related to a bungled raid by counter-terrorism police in Forest Gate, East London in which a suspect was mistakenly shot; the expenses of former head of counter-terrorism, Andy Hayman; and former Commissioner Sir Ian Blair’s links to a friend who won £3 million police contract.
Mr Tickner says he wanted to speak out at the inquiry after police chiefs rejected his pleas to track down officers responsible for smears.
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I told the police I wanted to be an official witness to the inquiry about relations between the police and the press.
'When they ignored me, the only way I could raise the issue was by going directly to the Leveson team. The effect was to gag me from speaking.’
Lord Justice Leveson said in his two-page judgment that he couldn’t hear Mr Tickner’s evidence because he didn’t have the resources, the time to investigate the claims fully, and that it was partly irrelevant.
But Mr Tickner says this decision kept his ‘highly relevant’ claims secret. ‘Lord Justice Leveson denied me a public platform where I could have spoken without fear of any legal action against me for speaking a truth no one wanted to hear.’
Metropolitan Police lawyers told Leveson it would be ‘unfair’ to senior officers, including Sir Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson, his deputy and later successor, if Mr Tickner was allowed to give evidence.
The Met’s QC told the inquiry that the evidence was aimed at ‘settling old scores’.
Mr Tickner said: ‘Whoever suggested that clearly doesn’t know me. All I cared about was whether officers had behaved stupidly or badly with public funds.
‘Senior police officers should be acting in the public interest, not running personal agendas at the taxpayer’s expense.
'The public needs to know that the behaviour of some senior officers was not acceptable. They should be accountable for their actions but in my experience rarely were.’
‘I saw it as my duty to give evidence about unacceptable relations between senior officers and the press.’
A spokesman for Lord Leveson last night said the judge had given a ‘comprehensive explanation’ of why Mr Tickner was not called to give evidence to the inquiry. He added: ‘The ruling could have been challenged at the time and was not.’
However, Mr Tickner said he could not afford any legal representation to make such a challenge.
Yes There Sure Is a Slippery Slope
Not only do the homosexual militants go ballistic when you mention a slippery slope in action, but even friendly critics advise that we not use the term. Well, I do not care much about the mere terminology – it is the reality which I really am concerned about here.
And there most certainly is a slippery slope in action. If you don’t like the term, use another, such as the open door effect. It is real and it is happening all the time. The more the militants deny it is happening, the more we see it taking place.
When the US Supreme Court handed out its decision on marriage last week, including its attack on the Defence of Marriage Act, the polyamorists instantly came out in force. They demanded – quite logically – that if homosexual marriage is a goer, then there is no reason why group marriage cannot be legalised as well.
One article on this written just before the Court decision offers some revealing quotes: “Anita Wagner Illig, a longtime polyamory community spokesperson who operates the group Practical Polyamory, is unsure of the direct impact of a ruling that would legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Until recently, she noted, ‘the polyamory community has expressed little desire for legal marriage,’ but now more options seem possible in the future. ‘We polyamorists are grateful to our [LGBT] brothers and sisters for blazing the marriage equality trail,’ Illig said.
“Illig believes there is indeed a ‘slippery slope’ toward legal recognition for polygamy if the court rules in favor of nationwide same-sex marriage, an argument typically invoked by anti-gay marriage advocates. ‘A favorable outcome for marriage equality is a favorable outcome for multi-partner marriage, because the opposition cannot argue lack of precedent for legalizing marriage for other forms of non-traditional relationships,’ she said.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who is representing a polygamist family, said this: “There is no reason that the decision should impact polygamy and particularly the Brown case in Utah. Polygamists are where homosexual couples were before 2003 and the Lawrence [v. Texas] decision” – a case striking down laws against homosexual relations.
Another article quotes more excited polyamorists: “Anne Wilde, a vocal advocate for polygamist rights who practiced the lifestyle herself until her husband died in 2003, praised the court’s decision as a sign that society’s stringent attachment to traditional ‘family values’ is evolving. ‘I was very glad… The nuclear family, with a dad and a mom and two or three kids, is not the majority anymore,’ said Wilde. ‘Now it’s grandparents taking care of kids, single parents, gay parents. I think people are more and more understanding that as consenting adults, we should be able to raise a family however we choose.’
“‘We’re very happy with it,’ said Joe Darger, a Utah-based polygamist who has three wives. ‘I think [the court] has taken a step in correcting some inequality, and that’s certainly something that’s going to trickle down and impact us.’
“Noting that the court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because the law denied marriage rights to a specific class of people, Darger said, ‘Our very existence has been classified as criminal… and I think the government needs to now recognize that we have a right to live free as much as anyone else’.”
Wilde can see the clear logic in all this, and the clear slippery slope in action: “I’m not a fortune-teller, but it seems like if more people are accepting of gay marriage, it would follow that polygamist marriage wouldn’t be criticized quite so much.”
Even the Economist magazine, which is in favour of homosexual marriage, had an article on this recently, and yes they too used the term “slippery slope” at the very outset. “Now that the federal government recognises the marriages of same-sex couples from enlightened states, what’s next? Polygamy? Well, polygamists are hopeful. And it does stand to reason. DOMA was struck down in no small part because it picks out a certain class of people and, by denying them recognition of their marriages, denies their families equal freedom and dignity.
“Can it be denied that polygamous families, whose marital arrangements are illegal, much less unrecognised, are denied equal liberty and are made to suffer the indignity active discrimination? Joe Darger, a Utahn with three wives, has said, ‘Our very existence has been classified as criminal… and I think the government needs to now recognize that we have a right to live free as much as anyone else’.”
Matt K. Lewis of the Daily Caller asks: “What’s magical about the number two?” Quite right. Once you jettison gender in the marriage equation, why not abandon number as well? Indeed, why worry about things like age as well?
The Economist piece concludes with a hearty endorsement of polyamory: “Same-sex-marriage activists have wisely sought to separate themselves from advocates of even more exotic marital arrangements. However, as Mr Lewis suggests, the idea that marriage is an inherently heterosexual institution is less plausible than the idea that it is inherently exclusive to couples. If a man can love a man, a woman can love a woman and a man. And if they all love each other… well, what’s the problem? Refraining from criminalising families based on such unusual patterns of sentiment is less than the least we can do.
“If the state lacks a legitimate rationale for imposing on Americans a heterosexual definition of marriage, it seems pretty likely that it likewise lacks a legitimate rationale for imposing on Americans a monogamous definition of marriage. Conservatives have worried that same-sex marriage would somehow entail the ruination of the family as the foundation of society, but we have seen only the flowering of family values among same-sex households, the domestication of the gays. Whatever our fears about polyamorous marriage, I suspect we’ll find them similarly ill-founded. For one thing, what could be more family-friendly than four moms and six dads?”
When mainstream journals like the Economist start talking this way, then you know we have a slippery slope in action. The militant homosexuals can keep pretending it does not exist, but as I have just documented here, and in so many other articles, the slope is most certainly alive and well.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.