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Case For Legal Recognition

Going to the Chapel:

The Case for Legal Recognition of Religious Weddings

Between Two Persons of the Same Sex

By R. Douglas Elliott

For many lesbians and gays, Christian tradition has been an impediment to equality at best, and a menace to life and limb at worst. Christian groups have fiercely resisted our efforts to achieve equality, frequently asserting that the sacrament of marriage was under siege. Doubtless it came as a surprise to many, from both camps, when the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT) announced that it would be using the ancient Christian practice of publishing banns to legally marry a male and a female same sex couple.

In this short paper, I shall outline the background to these developments and the legal arguments to be advanced. The paper is written from a thoroughly partial perspective. The author is both a member of MCCT and counsel for the Church in its case for legal recognition of religious marriages between two persons of the same sex.

Christianity, Homosexuality and the Law

For many centuries, Christianity condemned homosexuality as sinful. It was assumed that the Christian Bible, and its Jewish antecedents, had unequivocally established this religious position at an early date. The view of homosexual acts as sinful, was of course questioned as early as the 18th century by the anticlerical forces of the French Revolution, who eliminated the criminal sodomy laws of the ancient regime as part of secularizing law reform. However, serious examination and review of the origins of Christian teaching did not begin until after the Second World War as part of a movement for law reform.

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