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Saturday 22 September 2012
Letters: Any impediments to gay marriage?
The Church should stand with Maria Miller in championing gay marriage. Why? Because Jesus proclaimed that God's love is for all, especially for the excluded, and furthermore, that even God-given institutions like the Sabbath should be refashioned in the light of that. So I'm not alone as a Church of England bishop in championing women bishops and the refashioning of our God-given institution of marriage to include and support gay couples.
Within a few years of Jesus' death, the Church tried to exclude non-Jews from membership, but the Bible records their final decision – to judge questions of exclusion by primary reference to God's overwhelming love. That's why the Church can now accept me, a non-Jew, and even ordain me bishop. Church leaders should therefore proclaim what many in the pews already know for themselves, that if God is prepared to accept "me", then God is certainly prepared to accept "them".
The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green
Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex
At the risk of being branded a religious bigot, may I mention a word so far ignored in your comments about gay marriage – "children". For most people marriage means children and children have rights. The state holds up models for its citizens on everything from drink driving to a balanced diet. So what model for family life should the state uphold?
You say politicians don't have the courage to support gay marriage, I say they don't have the courage to say that heterosexual marriage is the best model for raising children, and it should be the model held up as the ideal by the state. Men and women have distinct but complementary roles in the raising of a family. Children have a right to expect both to play their part. Many same-sex unions raise children happily and successfully, but as a means of raising children they are always second best to a loving heterosexual union.
St Helens, Merseyside
S P Rouse declares that a marriage does not come into existence until it is consummated (letter, 20 September). Does this mean that men and women who find themselves alone in their eighties, nineties or even after they are a hundred years old, cannot marry (even a person of the opposite sex) unless they copulate? Would S P Rouse accept their word for it, or would some proof be required?
By all means remove failure to consummate as grounds for annulment. It is a very narrow view of marriage that thinks this will bring about the institution's demise. Why are we so interested in what other people get up to in bed? If they are consenting adults, we have no right to know or pass judgement.
One can only applaud your support for early legislation to resolve this issue. As a proposition, "gay marriage" is no doubt conceptually incoherent, but so what?
It would make many people happy, and, despite the fuss generated by its opponents, would surely be entirely harmless as a social institution. What credible reason is there to suppose otherwise, any more than there is in the case of civil partnerships?
Clegg's broken promise on student fees
The problem Nick Clegg has is that he gave his word that he would oppose any rise in university tuition fees, and then voted for such a rise.
I have always opposed such fees as hypocritical, they having been voted in by a parliament largely composed of individuals who had benefited from free tertiary education, and who lacked the guts to tell their constituents that a decent society costs money and they should be prepared to pay for it. None the less, the fees themselves are not the issue. Nick Clegg is the issue. He gave his word and he broke it.
There is, therefore, no basis on which anyone can believe anything he says and that, in turn, means that there is no basis on which anyone can vote for a Liberal Democrat party led by Nick Clegg. Or any other member of his party who also voted for the rise – such as Vince Cable.
I voted Lib Dem at the last two elections.
Robert S P Jenkins
I voted Liberal Democrat at the last election. But that was a mistake. I voted with the best of intentions but I shouldn't have believed their promises unless I was sure that they could deliver.
There's no easy way to say this: I voted, I was deceived and for that I am sorry. You've got to learn from your mistakes. I will never again vote Liberal Democrat.
Nick Clegg was apologising for the mistake of making a promise he could not finance, not for breaking that promise.
We can indeed learn from our mistakes, in fact more than we learn from success. Some may prefer to ignore errors, to deny them or to sweep them under a carpet. To acknowledge them and to learn from them is the mark of a good leader.
It all began with Lloyd George in 1931. As a last desperate throw of the dice before the election, he said, "If you return a Liberal government, we will do this, that and the other." The other two parties were horrified: nobody does that; there's always the possibility that you may not be able to. Until then, parties said what principles they believed in and no more.
Ever since, politicians have been paying the price. How about this: Promise what you can do (such as bring the voting age down to 16) or say what you would like to do (such as reduce the defence budget by 50 per cent). That way you won't land yourself in Mr Clegg's unfortunate situation, but the media, and the rest of us, would be deprived of harmless knockabout fun.
Leamington Spa, Warkwickshire
Well well, so politics are back to normal again, with the Liberal Democrats being attacked by both Conservative and Labour spokesmen. This shows that they are both afraid of us, which is a good prelude to our Brighton conference.
The dangers of Hillsborough
The truth about Hillsborough is finally out, and South Yorkshire police have been shown, as all football fans who visited the Sheffield grounds in the 1970s and 1980s knew they would be, as incompetent liars.
But there were earlier incidents, in particular in April 1982. There was a crowd of 29,917 for a game in the old Division Two. The Leppings Lane end was the away end, but its configuration of top-tier seating and bottom-tier terracing, made it a difficult place to enter and exit.
South Yorkshire Police had as one of their infamous crowd-control measures the locking of gates at the end to keep away fans in. There were upwards of 6,000 Newcastle fans that day. As fans began to leave the terracing from the middle section into the area leading to the exit gates, they mixed with people coming down the stairs into the same area from the seats. With the gates locked and nowhere to go, the crush began to take on frightening dimensions.
SYP then reverted to another of their favoured tactics, getting angry and lashing out, showing a shocking lack of care for their own people, those officers also trapped in the crush who began to suffer as much as the rest of us.
One young WPC became distressed and we realised that she was in trouble, so several of us passed her bodily up on to a toilet roof where some other Newcastle fans had taken refuge. One of the consequences of her being hauled to safety was her uniform was ripped. My abiding memory was of one of her colleagues shouting at us that we were "f***ing Geordie scum". That nobody died that day was a miracle.
Alistair W S Murray
Newcastle upon Tyne
King under the car park
The Society of Antiquaries holds a lock of Richard III's brother's hair, which it seems to me could provide a much more certain test of the identity of the remains found by archaeologists in a Leicester car park than DNA samples from modern descendants of Richard III's sister.
The lock was removed when Edward IV's tomb at Windsor was opened in the early 19th century.
We cannot be sure that cuckoos have not appeared in the nests of descendants of Richard's siblings. A negative finding in a DNA test would not necessarily prove that the remains were not Richard's. It might simply be evidence that a first-class family row is several centuries overdue.
Arrested for a Facebook post
As a former police officer I find the notion of someone calling the alleged killer of two unarmed police officers a "legend" on Facebook, to be vile, and it says much about the author and little about how the wider community feels. This person has since been arrested and this follows the arrest of a number of people for similarly offensive remarks on social media websites. I think we need to be very careful about how used we get to people being routinely arrested for what they say.
Thatcham, West Berkshire
I feel sorry for decent Republicans in the US, for such people do exist. They have believed in working for minimal government, trickle-down economics and the beneficial power of unregulated market forces. But now, not only are they faced with the fact that their Republican-in-Chief is a complete chump, but his, and presumably his uber-rich peers', politics are nothing more than a vile cocktail of elitism, cynicism and greed.
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire
Across the Arab world, there are riots in response to the amateurish anti-Islam film. Across that same Arab world, there are commonplace horrific media portrayals of other religions, in particular Judaism. Those who rightly criticise the anti-Islamic film must also be vocal in their condemnation of the religious incitement widespread across the Arab media.
Nick Collier writes: "Whatever else you think of Mrs Thatcher she didn't believe in the something-for-nothing mentality" (letter, 20 September). I assume then that she endorsed 100 per cent inheritance tax, and similar levies on the proceeds from privatisation and the fees of former government ministers who sat on the boards of privatised utilities.
I suggest to Peter Henderson that the question posed near the end of his letter on the price of the new iPhone (19 September) – "What could justify such a mark-up?" – is answered in his final sentence: "I guarantee buyers will still queue overnight to get one."
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