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Protestant scribe’s view on religious wedding celebrants

by Editorial Staff in General , 09 februari 2012

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

In his ‘Comments on these times’ of Monday the 21st of November on the website of the Protestant Church in The Netherlands scribe Arjan Plaisier wonders whether there can be room for celebrants that have religious objections against same sex marriages. The national foundation for coordination of groups for church and homosexuality (LKP) wonders whether the scribe hadn’t better point out to his conscientious brothers and sisters that when performing a public service you ought to keep your private views to yourself.

Right to speak

It’s good to publicly speak about the phenomenon of celebrants in religious conscientious conflict. However, the LKP would like the scribe of the Protestant church also to discuss and denounce for example the fact that a Christian school board expels a homosexual teacher and excludes him from all communication. Or perhaps pay attention to the blatant homophobia of sister organization Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which is also active in The Netherlands. Even better would it be if the Dutch Protestant Church would commit to the General Law of Equal Opportunity. Only then would the scribe have any right to speak on the subject of exclusion of people.

‘Will only marry straight people’

It’s good that the scribe thinks celebrants shouldn’t put their personal views above the law; that they ought act accordingly. But it’s weird that he subsequently offers them the possibility to abstain from their services when asked to marry a same-sex couple. The scribe resorts to a pragmatic approach: as long as same-sex couples have the possibility to marry in every municipality in The Netherlands. This pragmatic ‘solution’ made it possible that in Gorinchem a lesbian couple was explicitly informed by telephone which celebrant would refuse to marry them.

The booklet at city hall had portraits of the celebrants with accompanying texts like: ‘will only marry straight couples’. (from the article ‘Onze liefde is niet tweederangs’ (Our love is not second-rate) – NRC Handelsblad November 15, 2011). Does the scribe realize how hurtful it is to read such a thing when you’re planning your wedding, in a country where there’s just one type of marriage for both straight people as well as gays?
Photo: Arjan Plaisier

No distinction

The LKP has respect for people who have trouble with homosexuality because of their religion. The LKP understands and accepts that in 2001, when gays were no longer excluded from marriage, room was made for celebrants with religious conscientious objections. But ten years later it’s time to take the final step in making the government equal to all. It’s not fair to even indirectly be confronted with the fact that some civil servants are allowed to discriminate, especially not when you’re getting ready for the most beautiful day of your life.
Don’t mix your personal views with a public service

The LKP calls on celebrants with conscientious objections not to take advantage of their public service to ventilate their private views. There are other more appropriate platforms, like in churches. There are plenty of lesbian women and gay men that would like to exchange thoughts with people who feel conscientious objections.

It would have been so much better if the scribe had called on the civil servants to participate in the conversation instead of just confirming them in their self-chosen position as victims.




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