In June of this year the government in the UK concluded a consultation on same-sex civil marriage which received an amazing 228,000 responses. At 12.30 this afternoon Culture Secretary Maria Miller MP made an historic announcement revealing that the consultation resulted in the following steps:
Equal marriage – Same sex couples will be able to marry in civil ceremonies. Religious organisations that wish to conduct marriage for same-sex couples will be able to do so, if they have ‘opted in’
Protection for religions - A series of protections will be built in to primary legislation for those religious organisations and ministers who do not wish to marry same-sex couples
Civil partnerships - will be retained for same-sex couples only. Couples who wish to convert their civil partnership to a marriage will be able to do so
Changing Gender – The law will be changed to allow individuals to change their legal gender without first having to end their marriage
People who are currently in a civil partnership have a choice to change their status to married, I know of couples who may well choose this and other who may not, however the fact that straight couples can’t have a partnership is something that sticks out for me when I read this list of points.
What I think is the real triumph is the gender issue; they have saved the best for last. It is a disgrace that people have had to get a separation before being allowed to change their legal gender – this move as a massive one in the right direction.
The watertight protections for religious groups don’t bother me in the least but I can imagine there are some in our community that will be very put out by this. David Cameron was in favour of “gay weddings” in churches, but who wants to get married in a church that would opt out of this legislation?
Personally I think religions can have whatever rules they like and a separation of church and state is the right way to go. What I would disagree with is the illegality of forcing a religious person to conduct a gay wedding and the alteration of discrimination laws to make sure a claim can’t be brought against someone who refuses to marry same sex couples. If a person’s job is to marry couples in civil ceremonies then that’s their job, end of.
To see the announcement click here