So Denmark has finally removed gender gender discrimination from its marriage law thereby causing same sex marriages to be recognised by the state. They’re even to be performed in the official state church, although pastors retain the right to refuse to participate if discrimination against gay people is a fundamental part of their belief system.

(The proposed equality legislation presently before the Australian parliament would also give religious institutions the right to discriminate against gay people in marriage – despite the fact taxes paid by the rest of us, including gay people, cover those institutions’ exemptions from most taxation.)

Here’s the Herald Sun story describing the first bill back in March, before it passed:

DENMARK’S centre-left government has presented a bill in parliament that, if passed as expected, will enable gay people to marry in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church…

According to the bill, a pastor will not be obliged to marry a gay couple if he or she does not want to, but couples can turn to another pastor who will agree to perform the ceremony.

So – it’s only the government church, and even there priests can refuse to perform the ceremony.

Sadly, it’s difficult to imagine how much more misleading Andrew Bolt could have been about it. First, his absurd headline:

Nationalising the churches for the same-sex marriage agenda

Who on Earth is talking about “nationalising the churches”? I defy Andrew to name even one prominent Australian calling for “nationalising the churches” at all, let alone “for the same-sex marriage agenda”. Name just one, Andrew.

The Church of Denmark has been the state church in that country for centuries. Unlike in Australia, there is an actual Minister in the parliament who administers it. As there has been for centuries.

The UK Telegraph article Andrew Bolt quotes gets it wrong on the subject of which churches are affected (wrongly suggesting it’ll be “mandatory” for all of them), but even that version makes it clear that pastors don’t have to carry out same sex marriages if it’s against their beliefs:

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

Guess which critical sentence Bolt did not quote in his post?

Instead he made the following outrageous claim:

The criminalisation of conscience and faith is despicable and sinister:

“The criminalisation of conscience and faith”?! Let’s be clear about this. Denmark has not made it a “crime” to be an anti-equality bigot, even if you’re a priest. Hell, it hasn’t even made it a sackable offence in its own church – you can just refuse to carry them out and someone else will do it for you. Nobody is going to be charged with a “crime” for refusing to marry two gay or lesbian people.

“Criminalisation”, indeed.

As for Andrew’s shamelessly disingenuous closer – “Is this the next-but-one step in the Australian campaign?” – that’s even quicker to deal with.

There is no government-run church in Australia. There is no proposal to create a government-run church in Australia. And if, after the Marriage Act is finally amended to remove the gender-based discrimination, someone did for some crazy reason propose the creation of a government church – and I don’t know who Andrew fears doing that, because I doubt very much it’d be anyone on the diabolical “secular humanist left” – then the solution for people of bigoted conscience would be pretty darn simple: don’t become priests in that government church.

So, to summarise:

  • The Denmark situation is completely different to here because we don’t have a government-run church;
  • Nobody is proposing to “nationalise the churches” in Australia, least of all gay people.
  • The churches in Denmark aren’t “nationalised” either – as has been the case for centuries, there’s one state church and a whole host of independent churches and other religions;
  • It’s only the government church in Denmark that’s going to be required to carry out same-sex marriages;
  • Even within that government church religious people will retain the right not to carry out same sex marriages;
  • Denmark has not “criminalised” the act of refusing to marry a gay person;
  • The proposed legislation before the Australian parliament retains not only the right of both individual religious people AND also their churches to discriminate against gay people.
  • Andrew Bolt’s post completely omits these points and shamelessly implies the opposite.

If anyone confused Andrew Bolt for some sort of Libertarian, his campaign in favour of government discrimination and against individual liberty on the subject of marriage equality should put paid to that.

UPDATE: Do you want to hear from the comments? Surprisingly enough, it looks like Bolt’s readers have fallen for it hook, line and sinker:

You can now see these people are acting on Satan’s command. By trying to destroy God house. Final days are definitely upon us.
The end is now clear (Reply)
Sat 09 Jun 12 (11:11am)

If there’s a reader on that front page who’s realised the truth of the Danish situation, it’s buried in so much deluded spittle I didn’t see it.

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