NL: The objection-registrar

800px Den Haag Binnenhof NL: The objection registrar

The Binnenhof, where the lower and upper houses of the States-General meet. CC/Wikimedia/Markus Bernet

Dr. Arjan Plaisier, secretary of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands on registrars refusing homosexual marriage.

With 84 votes in favour and 58 votes against the Chamber of Deputies has accepted a motion of GroenLinks (a progressive environmental party) to make legal regulations that registrars can not refuse to join homosexuals in matrimony. Previously the cabinet had submitted the matter to the Council of State, which will react at a later point.

Ten years ago civil marriage has been opened to homosexuals. It is clear that thereby also the right is given to homosexuals to get married in the civil community of their choice. This right has been settled. As far as I know there have been no problems to execute this right anywhere.

At the same time it is fact that some registrars have conscientious objections against the homosexual wedding. As registrars, dressed in a robe, they are obliged to execute the law. That is rightly so. A registrar in a robe can not let his personal opinion prevail over the law. Then it becomes a mess. In the contact with the government citizens do not have to deal with private opinions but with a registrar of the registry office who executes the laws of the country.

The question is: do we accommodate the registrars not to dress in a robe for certain matters. Are we flexible enough to have respect for the registrar who has a problem with the joining in matrimony of homosexuals and who for that reason request not to perform as registrar in such cases?

In practice there is no problem at all. There are enough registrars who are available. The Chamber of Deputies however decided not to grant this space. Law is law and regulation is regulation. There is no room for any mental reservation. So take it or leave it. ‘Because’, so they add, ‘otherwise anyone could make reservations about everything.’

Is that a fact? ‘No, but it could be the case’. It could be the case, but it is not. It is arousing phantoms which are not there. Because reality is, that there is a limited number of registrars who have conscientious objections against the issue of homosexual marriage. We are solving this by saying: than they have to leave. That is the society we want.

One step further, it even concerns the special civil servant, the so called ‘BABS’, with conscientious objections against the homosexual marriage. He or she is asked by a bridal couple to join them in matrimony. Should these special civil servants, in order to do this, first make a statement that they are also willing to join homosexuals in matrimony? Yes, according to the trend. Are they being asked to marry such couples? No, of course not, it has not occurred yet spontaneously. ‘But it could occur, and furthermore they, as special civil servants, have to submit to the law. And if they don’t want to, get rid of them.’ This way registrars, who are willing to contribute to the wedding of two people – while it is not their job – are summoned to stay at home.

I think it is very worrying that people with conscientious objections are being treated this way, aside from the question how we feel about this matter. So this is how democracy works. The half plus one chases motivated people, causing no problem at all, out of the town hall. A country which takes pride in its tolerance starts to show intolerant features. Moral becomes pressure. That is grim.