Lord Carey, once Archbishop of Canterbury and long-time religious conservative, has landed himself in hot water after reports said he implied that gay marriage supporters are like Nazis for calling those who oppose gay marriage “bigots.” But is that actually what he said?
Carey, reduced to speaking at a so-called “Coalition for Marriage” protest at the ongoing Tory conference, told the 400 or so attendees at the Birmingham event that:
- marriage has “since time immemorial” been between a man and a woman (absolutely and demonstrably false);
- that gay marriage has led to three-person marriage (he may mean individual cases of three person cohabitation in the Netherlands which was not a direct result of same-sex marriage);
- that marriage is for the purpose of procreation (then why do we let the old and/or infertile marry?);
- that same-sex marriage should never be put on the same “level” as heterosexual marriage (what’s so special about being heterosexual?);
- and that people might be fired from their jobs for, for instance, refusing to teach kids about gay marriage (state-run schools and the teachers in them only need teach reality).
It was Carey’s reported suggestion, however, that anti-gay groups were being persecuted like the Jews of 1930s Germany that has caused the most outrage. Rallying against being labelled a bigot, he reportedly pronounced:
“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state. We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way.”
The UK’s presiding Tory-Lib Dem coalition hopes to change the law regarding marriage inequality by 2015. All three party leaders have endorsed the plans for marriage equality, and Labour’s Ed Miliband and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg have both backed allowing religious solemnization of same-sex marriages, something that is not currently part of the reform.
Despite the fact that legislation will not in any way affect religious marriage, both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church have officially opposed the plans. Between them, religious leaders have pulled from their oversized hats nearly every rabid bunny of an argument they could muster, including that legalizing gay marriage is like legalizing slavery, but so far all have bounced and failed to produce a u-turn from the government.
A prepared statement by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s team, leaked ahead of a recent speech reception in London, had him calling marriage equality opponents bigots. Disappointingly, Clegg later apologized, saying those were not the words he would have used in his final speech. Regardless, religious conservatives began stoking their persecution complexes. Carey’s statement seemed to be a reaction to Clegg’s team’s words, then.
Except there’s now doubt as to what Lord Carey actually said. The following Telegraph excerpt, brought to my attention thanks to this article, appears to show that Carey may have in fact been saying that those on either side of the argument should refrain from name calling (emphasis added):
[Lord Carey] rejected suggestions that the true “bigots” were those who advocated gay marriage and would not listen to legitimate concerns of religious groups who disagreed.
“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state.”
So, to the meat of it: Carey, despite reports, probably didn’t explicitly liken gay marriage supporters to Nazis.
However, if Lord Carey wanted to debate marriage equality “in a fair way,” as he most definitely did say, he should not have started his campaign against gay marriage in the UK with a trove of unabashed lies, like that studies have shown children need a mother and father in order to grow up healthy — no peer-reviewed, consensus backed study has shown that only heterosexual parents give kids an advantage — or that gay marriage will “fatally weaken” heterosexual marriage, harm children and wound society.
The Nazi debacle aside, what Lord Carey has already said about gay people and gay marriage is bigoted enough, and none of it “fair.”