How the Greens respond to Christina Summers will will show how mature and measured it is as a party

The Green Party does not have a whip on Brighton and Hove City Council, and while it seeks to achieve a consensus on issues coming before the Council, members of the Green Group are permitted to vote according to their conscience.

The decision of Hollingdean and Stanmer councillor, Christina Summers, to vote against same sex marriages at Thursday’s Full Council meeting on a notice of motion put forward by Labour councillor Warren Morgan. Councillor Summers told the Argus that it was a conscious decision and not made “off the cuff.” she said: “I could have abstained but I needed to qualify that I could not. The problem here is the understanding of equality. I do not agree that disagreeing with same sex marriage is disagreeing with equality at all. I feel that marriage is about a relationship between a man and a woman together in a relationship and about procreation and family.”

Now some Green Party members have begun discussions about whether councillor Summers should be expelled from the Green Party.

I fundamentally disagree with the position that councillor Summers takes on the issue. At the same time I think that should any action be taken against her would be wrong, even discriminatory on the grounds of religion and gender.

When selected to stand in Hollingdean and Stanmer, Christina Summers made no secret of her religious affiliations. At the time she was a member of the Calvary Church in Viaduct Road, a church with a social conscience but with clear views regarding homosexuality, abortion and the headship of men (views which I find repugnant). While I don’t know whether and how much councillor Summers subscribes to these views, it should come as no surprise to anyone if she did. In a political party like the Greens, it is rather perverse to now say she now cannot obey her conscience.   To take action against her now would alienate the Greens from many Christians.

Regarding sexual discrimination, no action was taken against councillor Ben Duncan when he made a ‘joke’ about only smoking weed when he was raping and pillaging, or something similarly distasteful. Ben Duncan has a leading role on policing. I doubt it was well known at the time of his selection that he felt it was acceptable to make ‘jokes’ about rape. He has subsequently apologised for the wide offence he caused.

So no action was taken against a male councillor for a grossly sexist action that was not based, I am happy to accept, on conscience, but consideration is being given to taking action against a female councillor for an action based on her conscience. That would smack of gender discrimination and might suggest that there are elements of misogyny within the Green Group. I don’t believe that this is the case.

The Deputy Leader of the Council and the Green’s spokesperson on LGBT issues, Phelim MacCafferty, told the Argus that the Greens “believe she is entitled to hold her view but this does not reflect the position, spirit and track record of the green Party in extending human and civil rights for all social groups irrespective of sexual orientation or on other grounds.”

Well said, Phelim. That is a mature and measured response. It is a shame he went on to say: “Green councillors will be meeting to discuss this issue soon.”

Can I suggest that when this item is reached, someone proposes, in a mature and measured way, “Next business”. If the Greens really think that spending time debating the views and voting of just one of its members on this issue deserves time and attention, then the Group will become a laughing stock. It will take more than Christina Summers voting as she did to cause the slightest damage to the Green Party’s excellent record on LGBT issues.


39 Responses

  1. I find this absolutely bloody awful. Surely under Gods eyes marriage should be more about the final bond of commitment to the one you love regardless of gender…

    I am going to take great pleasure in myself or another Labour member taking her seat for the people of Hollingdean and Stanmer who I am 100% sure have a more open minded approach to same sex marriage.

    There is no place in our City or even in our nation for this outdated view on same sex marriage! The next generation are going to look back on such warped ideas in the same way that they did about slavery and stopping women having the vote.

  2. Can someone please clarify if the green party are actually bias in their positioning of LGBT agendas?

    Is the party actually in position to consider the needs of the whole community ?

    Is the track record of the Greens based primarily on their position of LGBT issues ?

    Is there actually a deep in bedded disrespect , disregard of any one that does not hold their ideology?

    Is their freedom of expression / speech for all Green party members .. As there is said to be no whip?or does that freedom of expression only apply if God is not mentioned?

    I was actually encouraged that a green councillor ( or indeed any councillor)could have freedom to express their position and have such a level of respect .I regularly watch the full council on webcam and echo what Bill Randall ( our present mayor) said… It was to be commended how the council proceeded concerning this vote ..

    But with recent bloggs , website statements … It is obvious that Councillor Summers is not the one who is in endanger of bringing discredit on the Green group but the danger is within the green group councillors themselves…. !

  3. If Councillor Summers believes marriage is about ‘Procreation and family’, and therefore the reason gay couples can’t get married is because they can’t procreate, presumably she doesn’t believe infertile couples or post-menopausal women should be allowed to get married? The answer is of course she does believe infertile straight couples should be able to get married, and why is this? Because they aren’t gay. I am aware from conversations people have had with her that she believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that she ‘loves the sinner and not the sin’. Her motives are based on bigotry covered by the veneer of ‘religious conscience’. The party will go down in my estimation if it takes no action.

  4. Christina Summers is homophobic. There’s no other way to say it. Now I afraid I do not accept the defence of biblical teaching as an excuse for blatant inequality amongst people. Gays or lesbians should be free to do everything that everyone else does, and take part in everything everyone else is free to as well. That includes marriage.

    To accept Cllr. Summers position as tangible she would have to follow ALL the teachings in the Bible. She would have to be willing to put anyone who works on a Sunday to death. She would have to feel the best way to deal with a child cursing their parents would be to execute them. Or, for that matter, accept the biblical view that women are evil and men are superior.

    I have a feeling that these are a few examples of things that Cllr. Summers would find abhorrent, which begs the question why should the biblical teachings against homosexuality be followed, and the others – all supposedly the teachings of a supreme entity – be wilfully ignored? The answer is simple. Christians follow the bits of the Bible that they agree with … the bits that suit them … the ones that fit their lifestyle or views.

    Hence my rather stark accusation that Christina Summers is homophobic.

    Should she be punished in law for this? Probably not. Should she be representing people in her ward, or the Green Party? Probably not.

    I think there is a distinct difference between the comments of Cllr. Duncan and the views expressed at the vote in question. Cllr. Summers did not make a joke in poor taste – something not necessarily representative of one’s day-to-day views – she actually expressed her view in ernest at a vote of the city’s leaders.

    I don’t quite see how one can go against such a fundamental tenet of one’s political party, the idea of equality for all and full acceptance of homosexuality, and continue to operate within it. Then again, with an abundance of homosexuals working within the Christian religions, despite the promise that they’re off to hell, it seems common sense is not a factor in these arenas.

    • Tony, you claim that Cllr Summers should follow all the teachings of the Bible, but then go on to ignore some of the ways it interprets itself (e.g. Jesus’ comments about working on the sabbath), and add in things that it doesn’t say (equating the sabbath with Sunday, claiming that it says women are evil and inferior). If you are going to insist that somebody sticks to a certain standard, you could at least make sure you have a basic understanding of what that standard is before you say so.

      Christina Summers’ belief on the matter in question appears to be the traditional Christian understanding of marriage, one which is held to by the vast majority of Christian churches and – in fact – most of the major religions in the UK. Whilst some people who hold this belief are, indeed, homophobic, I do not think that all of them are.

      I would expect Christina’s position to be that, whilst marriage is in essence between a man and a woman, same-sex couples should have access to an equivalent institution with all the same legal rights. That position is not inherently homophobic (unless you’re going to call people like gay rights campaigner David Starkey a homophobe).

      • I did not claim Cllr. Summers “should” follow all the teachings in the Bible. No one should. It’s an utterly vile document. What I am saying is that it is laughable for Christians such as Cllr. Summers to argue that some bits of it are valid and should be blindly followed, and the parts they *don’t* like wilfully ignored. How is such behaviour a basis for a valid intellectual opinion on the issue?

        What it all seems to be saying is that religion is the ultimate “Get Out Of Jail Free” card: you can be racist, sexist or, as in this case, homophobic, but as long as you can claim it’s all based on your religion, then that’s all fine. You can, to take the example of another religion, hold a party, and have a man turn up and cut bodily parts off your screaming newborn to the rapturous applause of your friends, and have the whole incident labelled as a religious tradition, rather than child abuse.

        I wonder what would have happened if the motion had been that the council should express concern about the dangers of mankind-caused climate change – if Cllr. Summers had voted against such a motion, publicly stating she didn’t agree with the premise, I suspect she would no longer be a member of the Green Party five minutes later. Oh, if they didn’t have such a slim council majority that is.

        If someone was to agree and sign a document that said they were against the practising of racism, one would not expect the hidden qualifier in their mind “Except when they’re black”. This is the situation we have here. Cllr. Summers is all for equality, except when the people in question are gay.

        That goes against the very idea of equality. Why should we have a situation where someone can be punished for their abhorrent, yet “free”, speech, yet the same views coming from a religious person can forgiven, defended, and even applauded based on them following the teachings of their particular imaginary friend? Indeed it does seem that some people’s “free speech” is fine, and others is punishable. Again, this is against the concept of equality.

        As for bringing up the comments of David Starkey, I don’t see what bearing that has on the argument. So he’s gay and opposed to gay marriage – therefore he must be right? Well there were lots of Jewish people who supported the Nazis – does that make the Nazis ‘OK’? Sorry, I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but it really is the only analogy suitable when dealing with the wild extremes involved in religion. I think if you read his comments he is not opposed to gay marriage, just doesn’t see the point of it. Well, neither do I (hell, I don’t even see the point of marriage in the heterosexual world, much to the chagrin of girlfriends), but clearly it matters to a lot of gay people. So on the basis that it is something that will make them happy, and does not negatively impact anyone on any reasonable grounds, I say let them get on with it.

        Now on to the other matters. I must confess I do love educating Christians about the book they themselves claim to know all about and follow in their day-to-day lives.

        1. Working on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is representative of the day God rested after making the Earth. OK, so everyone’s gotta rest too. Fair enough … how to deal with people who don’t?

        Exodus 35:1-2 And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

        Numbers 15:32-35 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.”

        Cleared up that one? Good.

        2. The biblical view that women are inferior and evil.

        Plenty to work with on this score, but here’s an example:

        ECCLESIASTICUS 23:32-36 So every woman also that leaveth her husband, and bringeth in an heir by another :

        For first she hath been unfaithful to the law of the most High: and secondly, she hath offended against her husband: thirdly, she hath fornicated in adultery, end hath gotten her children of another man. This woman shall be brought into the assembly, and inquisition shall be made of her children. Her children shall not take root, and her branches shall bring forth no fruit. She shall leave her memory to be cursed, and her infamy shall not be blotted out.

        Now even if you do not adhere to reasonable interpretation that this means both she and her illegitimate children are to be killed, it’s hardly a fair treatment when compared to a fornicating man.

        And one more:

        25:33 From the woman came the beginning of sin, and by her we all die.

        Yeah, blame ’em all, I say.

        These are just a few examples of the multitudes of evils in the Bible, the book supposedly which is the word of your God, and the life rules of the same quarter. So rather than lecturing me on what supposedly *isn’t* in the Bible, may I politely suggest that you actually get off your backside and read it?

      • Tony, firstly, I brought up David Starkey as an example of someone who doesn’t want gay marriage, but could not possibly be accused of being homophobic. That doesn’t mean that he’s right, it merely proves that opposition to gay marriage does not automatically make one a homophobe. Which was the point I was making, and a point that you clearly didn’t understand.

        Secondly, you said that Cllr Summers should follow all the teachings of the Bible in order for her position to be “tangible”. Given that Cllr Summers is a Christian, and bases her position on that belief, the reasonable interpretation of your comment is to say that you think she should follow all the teachings of the Bible.

        And in justifying your interpretation of the Bible, you completely ignore the points I made, cherry picking a couple of verses out of context, when other parts of the Bible put things in a different light.

        On the Sabbath, have a look at what Jesus said about it:

        “One Sabbath he was going through the cornfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck ears of corn. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-27) – clearly he’s not up for stoning people for working on the Sabbath.

        Or what Paul said:
        “Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honour of the Lord and gives thanks to God. “” (Romans 14:4-6) – he clearly considers things like observing the sabbath to be a matter of personal conscience.

        On your claim that the Bible paints women as evil or inferior, you’re citing a book that isn’t in the Bible. Ecclesiasticus isn’t even in the Apocrypha.

        You can’t claim that Christians are being hypocrites for not following every word of the Bible (and that clearly is what you were accusing Cllr Summers of being in your initial post) and then define what that means by taking a couple of verses and ignoring how the rest of the Bible interprets them. Nor can you support such a claim by citing books that are not in the Bible. Like everybody else who makes that argument, you are largely ignorant of how the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. If you’re going to insist that Christianity requires Christians to follow every verse of Leviticus to the letter, you should carefully read the New Testament books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. What you find there is likely to surprise you.

      • As you have quite rightly picked me up on “tangible” – it got accidentally left over from when I had typed something else and changed it, and I failed to spot that. Let’s use the word “valid”. Apologies.

        Ecclesiasticus IS part of the Bible – it’s also known as the Book of Sirach. I think I’m right in saying it was in the Apocrypha originally and got shoved into the Bible proper during the Council of Trent meetings in the 16th century. Now it’s true it doesn’t appear in the King James Bible, it’s in the Catholic one, and I was told Cllr. Summers identified herself as a Catholic to another councillor outside of the council chamber. Now, I was not personally there, and maybe the person overhearing this discussion got the wrong end of the stick. That’s not to say there aren’t similar things regarding women in the King James Version, and if you *really* want I’ll dig them out for you.

        With regard to the Sabbath issue, Jesus was gathering some food, not “working” per se – his defence is “Hey, we’re hungry, so it’s ok”. If you are going to pretend that Jesus came along and ‘got rid’ of all the nasty old stuff in the Bible I have to point you towards Matthew 5:17 – “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”. Matthew 15 is quite interesting too – Jesus has a go at the Pharisees for NOT killing children who curse their parents, and says, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Ah yes, that well-known evil tradition of *not* killing people for minor offences! It’s interesting that my quotes are supposedly some form of cherry-picked anomalies, and yours are a divine truth. However, you are certainly not unique in this approach, many Christians follow the same pattern of denial.

        David Starkey formed his views for rational reasons, which he outlines. I would still argue that he doesn’t see the point of it, rather than opposing it, but ok, let’s say he’s completely against it. It doesn’t matter because he has no political power. He doesn’t have the power to send messages or not send messages to central government on behalf of the people of a city. Cllr Summers does, and unlike David Starkey she has NOT formed her views from rational reasons, but used the Bible as her guide instead. I think this would come as a concern to the people who voted for her, particularly as we have a disproportionately high level of atheists in Brighton and Hove. Furthermore, and I do not know if you have done this consciously or unconsciously, you are trying to blur the issue. Starkey talks about gay people wanting church weddings, and he talks extensively about the history of the Church of England. Cllr. Warren Morgan’s motion, as I understand it, referred to “non-religious” weddings – so where’s the harm?

  5. Scratch the cuddly surface of some Green Party members and you find the old sectarian and intolerant attitudes that they have brought with them from their divisive days in the Labour Party, or just brought with them into the Party. Christina may be wrong about this particular issue, but her views are known and sincerely held. Does this deserve calls for her to be treated as a pariah?

    If you are not going to have a whip then you should expect, indeed encourage, a diversity of views, unless you are saying that there are a mantra of policies which must be fully accepted, or you cannot remain within the Party, or hold office within it. If you did, surely one, for elected members, would be that you support the budget of your Party.

    It is also worth remembering that a range of views on this, and other issues, are sincerely held, and it isn’t the case that you become some Daily Mail type simply because you hold different views to others.

    The Green Party promised a new style of politics, open, inclusive, tolerant. This looks like another example of them as the ’emperor’s new clothes’ of British politics. How they deal with it is an opportunity to prove at least some the doubters wrong.

  6. In summing up the debate on the motion I proposed, I said that although I disagreed with her, I would defend Cllr Summers right to her beliefs as much as I promote equalities, in this case equal marriage.
    It is one of the most difficult things for those of us on the progressive, liberal left to do – defend the rights of those with whom we profoundly disagree. It is even harder as an atheist like myself. There is an inherent conflict between the right to hold some religious beliefs and the right to equality for LGB & T people. However if you replace Christian with Muslim, Hindu or Jewish then you might have more reason to pause before adopting a very certain position on this.
    Supporting the right to religious freedom does not mean you support the rights of those people to restrict the rights of others or indulge in hate crime themselves. We all have limits on our freedoms where they impinge on the freedoms of others. These balances in a free society are difficult.

  7. The response to Christina Summers’ decision of conscience has a whiff of Animal Farm’s, ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’ about it. The reason that I have voted Green in the past is that I have believed the party has been a voice for the voiceless on many important issues. Now it seems that some voices are to be silenced: that only some voices have a right to be heard – the ones that are singing the ‘right’ tune. Other voices must be supressed. This does not represent the freedom and equality that I believed the party to represent.
    How the party deals with dissention on this issue will be a clear indication of how strong it’s Equal Rights principles are – are the rights of someone to speak freely on this issue as valued as the rights of anyone else to be heard? Is respect only to be distributed as a prized reward for the chosen, rather that given to each individual as a result of our common humanity?

  8. For many years I was a Labour activist and was once a councillor. Labour has always had intolerant bigots of everything other than class warfare, who would be incapable of understanding that a religious belief sincerely held required allegiance to an authority greater than Labour. Now the Greens have similar intolerant cadres it seems.H Fitch shows how intolerant Labour still is towards dissent.

    Many Christians and others believe in marriage as a sacramental institution for two persons of opposite sex to procreate, if God wills it. Belief in God does not affect general political orientation and transcends left to right. If Labour, Greens or Tories want power they have to be broad enough to accommodate such ‘deviant’ views.

    I accept civil partnership and anti-discrimination laws as progressive, as are anti-homophobic campaigns. That does not mean accepting gay marriage as on a par with that of opposite sex partners-since the Bible says otherwise.

    I have to applaud Christina Summers for having put conscience above all else, as St Thomas More did against Henry VIII, or Bonhoeffer afainst Hitler. Well done Christina.

  9. It is disappointing that this row has completely overshadowed the cross-party support Warren Morgan’s excellent motion on equal marriage received. Warren spoke very eloquently of Labour’s proud tradition on equalities. There were also great contributions from Mary Mears and Graham Cox. Mike Jones described it as the best motion that he had debated.

    While I find Christina Summers views fairly repugnant, this was a conscience vote and she was free to abstain or express her opposition.

    Green Party members were already aware of her views before she expressed them at full council and were happy to let her to stand as a councillor. They should therefore stop this witch hunt against her. Bombarding her twitter account and trawling social networks for photos to further embarrass her is not acceptable behaviour.

    • No Caroline. Christina said she supported equality in her hustings, and also signed a statement as such. So the party did not know her views. Also as an elected political representative, aren’t we supposed to put our personal views aside when voting? This is not an issue of ‘personal conscience’ as some have said, we haven’t asked her to enter a same sex marriage herself, or say she would support abortion for herself, we simply ask that she votes for equality as she said she would do.

  10. There is a lot of talk and not much substance in the green party. It seems as if we have fallen into the trap of equality for a select few to the exclusion of all others who don’t agree.
    How can we hold our country up to the middle east as an example of true democracy?
    This witch hunt further harms our society and focuses in on a single issue, an issue which has been pushed through without public consultation.

  11. Brighton and Hove is known for its love of tolerance and free speech. So I hope that tolerance will be extended to Councillor Christina Summers when she says she cannot support attempts to redefine marriage.

    I hope, too, that the Green Party will respect Councillor Summers’ position. Most political parties have an honourable tradition of allowing free votes on matters of conscience such as this.

  12. “I understand that the Green Party is committed to achieving equality for all people, regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice, and I am committed to upholding and advancing these values if selected as a candidate and if elected to public office.”

    Allegedly all our Green councillors have had to sign this declaration. So even in the very best of lights, Councillor Summers is a liar.

    • ‘”Equality” – a word that causes spectacular misunderstanding and division. Calm debate & enquiry would yield surprising mutual agreement.’ – from Cllr Summers twitter feed.

      Other Green Party members have also signed this declaration, and yet comments about religion made over time have demonstrated a lack of commitment to these values, so it would behove members to tread carefully over how this is all handled – hypocrisy is the preserve of the self-righteous, whether of the religious variety or the secular.

    • That statement is a complicated one and the whole argument cannot be boiled down to Cllr Summers being a liar. It mentions ‘religion’ and religion comes with different beliefs whether it be Christian, Muslim or Jewish for example. Views on equal marriage crosses religions and is not confined to ‘fundamentalists.’ This statement doesn’t say ‘achieving equality for all people, regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice – as long as agree we their views’. If it did many would find that discriminating and intolerant of difference.

      What is more worrying is the level of dogmatic hounding of Cllr Summers by clearly political ‘fundamentalists’ who are dennoucing her evangelism whilst, hypocritically, purporting their own. It is those types of attitudes and behaviours which leads to dreadful discrimination, bullying and victimisation.

      By the way, before I am stereotyped as a bible thumping, church goer who is homophobic, I believe in equal marriage – as I am sure other church goers do as well

      • Bravo! The rabidly seething pack animal hunting down of Christina is scary. Reminds me of 1930’s fascism.

  13. This is my first – and probably last – post on BPB, and I want to emphasise that it is not intended to be a party-political dig at all.

    As a young gay person from Brighton I find this post, and some of the comments it has attracted, particularly depressing.

    Why is it that in 2012 LGBT equality – my rights – are still considered “up for debate” or a matter of “conscience” even amongst so-called progressives in Britain’s ‘most LGBT-friendly’ city?

    It is right that today racial equality is no longer considered a matter of conscience. If a councillor of any hue voted against racial equality or said something even vaguely racist most progressives would agree, without hesitation, that they should be suspended and no doubt expelled from their party. It would simply be a matter of principle.

    So why the double-standards on homophobia and LGBT equality?

    The Green Party has a long and proud tradition of standing up for LGBT equality. At times the party has been more progressive on equality issues than my own party. Whilst this is undoubtedly because Labour represents a far larger and wider proportion of the population with a broader range of opinion on many issues – it is still disappointing.

    Cllr Summers stood for election as a Green Party candidate, on the Green Party’s values, its manifesto and its record.

    Let’s be honest – she was elected because she was a Green Party candidate. I doubt many people voted Green in Hollingdean and Stanmer at the 2011 local elections because they specifically wanted to elect Christina Summers. I doubt many voters had a clue what her personal views on homosexuality were – or indeed her views on anything else.

    Like B&H Labour, B&H Greens all stood on a manifesto that included a pledge to support LGBT equality, and specifically, equal marriage.

    In my view this is pretty clear cut. Cllr Summers broke a Green Party manifesto commitment and she voted against a core Green Party value. As a result, she should be suspended and deselected.

    The fact that she voted against LGBT equality does not reflect badly on the Green Party, but their response to her actions will rightly have an impact on how people view the Green Party. It will be an indicator of how seriously the party takes its support for LGBT equality and its manifesto commitments.

    It is worth saying that I believe strongly in freedom of belief and freedom of speech. In my opinion, Cllr Summers should be allowed to believe and say what she wants. However, freedom of belief and freedom of speech does not mean freedom to promote your own agenda whilst acting as a representative of a particular political party. Especially not a party that holds LGBT equality as a core value.

    • Tom, I don’t understand how taking a principled stand against gay marriage is “..that she voted against LGBT equality”. Christina has seen marriage as qualitatively different to civil partnership that’s all, based on her belief in what Jesus and the Bible teaches.And of course the most fundamental Christian tenet is to do unto others as you would have them do to yourself.In others words to treat all equally and with with respect. That means opposing all bigotry and intolerance but not therefore imposing a cultural control of intolerance where a community leader like Christina would be afraid to speak out because of fear from the power of the gay majority in a place like B & H.

      Practising Christians are part of the community too. If Christina’s name had been Fatima and she were a Muslim, how many would dare to be as stridently against her?

  14. Actually BPB Ben Duncan was removed of his role as national Home Affairs spokesperson when he made the comments you mention. Labour will clearly be able to make hay out of this. She should be removed from the group in the least.

  15. The position of Councillor Summers is likely to cause more problems in the future. The Green Party seems doctrinally opposed to state schools that are not under local authority control. Imagine an evangelical Christian faith school not under local authority control is desirous of opening in the ward of Councillor Summers. Would she be doctrinally opposed to it as is the stance of the Green Party or would she support the evangelical school’s application in order to properly educate the unenlightened heathens of Hollingdean & Stanmer as to the glories of the gospels?

    It will be very interesting to see how the Green Party deals with this little local difficulty.

  16. The Greens were so determined to recruit community activists for the local elections last year, they where prepared to overlook a little thing like politics. Members were aware of Christina’s views but ignored them until they caused real embarrassment to the party. In a marginal ward, how many H & S voters would have supported Christina if they’d known her views?

    “Green” is a flag of convenience, rather than a political movement. Few if any Green councillors actually espouse Green Party values. This probably explains why Caroline Lucas keeps a distance from the council & the party she is still leader of.

    • Flag of convenience? You do touch on something.

      The Green Party was formed around Green activists. Green activists were/are activists of other kinds too. Animal Rights for instance. As a newish political entity it is perhaps less firmly boundaried than the established parties – more vulnerable to infiltration and agenda takeover and there are predictable issues to pay lip service allegiance to that would make that pretty easy I’d imagine.

      The Green Party is still working on creating a distinctive identity whilst working out how to hoover in voters from the other parties. Since ‘green’ became mainstream across all parties to some degree, their original legitimising political party remit has been weakening. A lot of disaffected Labour people climbed aboard, and the agenda has moved smartly on. Now many describe themselves as Green Socialists!

      Christina DOES belong in the Green Party. It is still largely a party of activists. And the LGBT activist faction are having a moment of ascendancy and flexing their muscles. Wilthout grace and with the level of anger and spleen you see vented by Animal Rights Activists at the ALF end of the spectrum.

      The Green Party needs to be careful not to be seen as a collection of angry extremist activists of too many colours and stripes. Voters will run from that.

    • No Flo, members were NOT aware of Christina’s views. I was at the hustings where she was asked if she would support full equality for minority groups including the LGBT community – she said yes. She also signed a statement to support equality for The LGBT community. We have many Christian members who support gay marriage, so if you are implying that because we knew Christina was a christian (which I agree we did), that means she would not vote for equality, clearly that is wrong. Christina obviously has her own agenda, much of it good I am sure, but this is not a squabble over a planning decision, its about basic human rights which are a fundamental part of our party.

      • The question is whether the term ‘marriage’ falls within the equality remit. I can see how Christina might have seen equality in terms of civil partnerships….a legal equivalent (or should be in every way).

  17. Has the Green Party itself morphed into a religion? One person I know thinks it is a cult. Its’ behaviour towards Christina Summers smacks of mediaeval Inquisitions. This savage and bloodthirsty circling of her is chilling.

    Why is the Green Party pushing LGBT issues to the fore quite so hard? Once upon a time raising consciousness to end prejudice was a goal. Just not having to hide it was a goal. Not being forced to feel ashamed was a goal. Acceptance of sexual difference as a normal reality was a goal. Equality in the workplace, in social circles, etc. but now there is aggression in it – with outing gay people seen as a duty almost. There is a power agenda and a domination agenda and I don’t believe it is supported by everyone who might be pigeonholed as LGBT.

    The very term LGBT is about creating difference and a boundaried category of people.. Decades of wanting to getting rid of difference as an issue have been overturned and difference is now pride and strutting and making people afraid. About shoving it down our throats in blatant, startling sexual displays within the annual Pride event (that some gay men I know, whose lives are lived in a dignified manner, actually leave town to avoid!) Is it now like the Black Power backlash? Like the Muslim backlash?

    You can’t have an opinion about a lot of things now without the PC thought police handcuffing you to the stake and gathering the twigs for the fire.

    The Green Party’s Grand Inquisitors should consider how Scientology is perceived and ask themselves how they are not THAT. Different religion, uncomfortably similar, punitive, template.

    And I would be surprised if the majority of voters in Hollingdean and Stanmer felt especially interested in LGBT ‘marriage’ as an issue, frankly. Not a political priority for them and it should not be so prominently a political priority for the Green Party. The word ‘Green’ is becoming redundant as the party pursues issues that are much more about social engineering and competing with the Labour Party for possession of its turf.

    Marriage is a kinship control measure seen all around the world. And these days a lot of heterosexual people avoid it. Some women choke on the word ‘wife’ because of its connotations of subservience to a ‘husband’. Many now use the word ‘partner’,married or otherwise, instead of husband or wife to describe themselves. Self-consciously and insecurely I’d say.

    But there is this fashionable PC issue de jour out there now giving the impression that everyone who might be pigeonholed as LGBT (whether they want it or not, whether it embarrasses them to have difference rammed down their throats by having to submit to this classification or not) is desperate to use the word marriage when formalising their relationships legally. A couple is a couple is a couple whatever word you use,

    LGBT is the new browbeating Feminism (to borrow from a fashion term about whatever is now the new black). Feminism is not banged on about as it was in the post Female Eunuch era any more in quite such a high profile way. Moving to centre stage now is LGBT POWER!

    All these movement suck.

  18. @ Tony Davenport: In the Matthew 15 passage you mention, Jesus is clearly using this example to point out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees – When they accuse him of not following the Law, he responds by pointing out that they are also breaking the law they claim to uphold. Jesus does claim to fulfill the OT law – a law based on righteousness through keeping this law and through sacrifice. Christians believe that Christ, the only truly righteous one, fulfilled this law through the sacrifice of his life (killed incidentally due to the plotting of the self-righteous teachers of the Law, who were threatened by his teachings which took power away from them, and put it into the hands of those regarded as unworthy). He therefore ushered in a kingdom of Grace, and freedom from the righteousness that is obtained by following the law. The response of the Christian is one of joyful obedience to this law of Grace, as much of the NT describes. Jesus’s message was socially divisive – it challenged the established authorities of the day and caused great offence to those considered powerful, and joy to those considered ‘sinners’ – Jesus frequently touched the ‘untouchable’, ate with social outcasts, and spoke to those whom the culture of the time did not allow contact with. Those lives he touched were transformed as a result, while most of the ‘righteous’ ones continued unchanged and tried to oppress any teaching that did not uphold their own. His message continues to be socially divisive – and challenging, but people from all walks of life continue to testify to the liberation that they experience through it. And there is freedom to choose to follow this teaching, or not to. This also continues to be a ‘right’ in this country – one which the Green Party has declared to support

  19. I’m just catching up on this item of news. A couple of comments.

    First, a disclosure. I’m an evangelical Christian, a Green Party member, and a friend of Christina Summers.

    I can see that there is a powerful argument in favour of same-sex marriage. The state has within its power the ability to bestow on couples the honour of being “married”. The state does not treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally, because it reserves this honour only for opposite-sex couples. This, for many, is just as offensive as if to be eligible for the state honour of the OBE you had to be a man.

    Personally, I think the best way forward would be for the state to stop using the word “marriage” altogether. It is a word that people have extremely strong convictions about. It seems bizarre for the state to be adjudicating on the meaning of a word, and for Parliament – and now local council chambers too! – to be used as fighting grounds for people to argue that their definition of a word is the “correct” one.

    (In fact – taking another step back – why has Brighton and Hove City Council seen it as a good use of its time to debate this issue and to lobby Parliament on it? Is it part of the role of a city council to replicate the debates happening in Westminster and inform Parliament of its views on those matters? If there is a reason for this – apart from an attempt to give a good impression – I’d be keen to know!)

    • You make a good point about use of Council time. Indeed, the Notice of Motion would have involved use of taxpayers money.

      I have wondered for sometime exactly what the remit of a Local Authority is perceived to be and how it is the same or different from 100 years ago…..even had a chat about it one day with Argus reporter Tim Ridgway.

      A topic for the blogger to introduce sometime. What are councils for and what do they do and what should they do.

  20. If I loved my goldfish, should the state not be speciesist and allow us to marry? What is wrong with no practical, legal differences between civil partnership and marriage save the latter confined to opposite sexes?

    • So a gay or lesbian person is equivalent to a goldfish? Gay people aren’t a different species – that’s why they should have equality. The issue is hardly comparable to a bestial congress between a lower intelligence specimen of pond life and your goldfish.

  21. Tony. when you resort to thinly veiled invective you have de facto conceded you have lost the argument.

    • A bit p***ed of that my comment made you look a bit stupid? I apologise. If it’s any consolation I think many people reading what you had to say will hold the same view of you after my comment as they held before it.

  22. May God bless all us bloggers and give us loving hearts and minds. Our hearts and minds will grow and our persons flourish if we start with a prayer to our Creator.

  23. As a green my self I appluad Christina Summers comments and what is more I know of many gay people who do not want the same status as hetrosexual people. Marriage is clearly for a man and a woman. There has to be an order to things otherwise society breaks down. The next thing someone will want, to marry their pet cat or dog and call it equal rights!

  24. […] ‘How the Greens respond to Christina Summers will show how mature and measured it is as a party’, Brighton Political Blog; accessed 24th July […]

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