Quakers in Britain welcome the government’s announcement, today, 17 February, that civil partnerships will be allowed to be celebrated on some religious premises, if a faith group wishes. This was introduced as part of the Equality Act 2010, section 202.
Michael Hutchinson, Acting Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: “We are delighted that the government has heard us and others. We ourselves see no distinction between heterosexual or homosexual in terms of commitment and wish to move further to allow legal marriage for same sex couples, but this is a welcome step along the way to full equality.”
“We are also heartened by proposals to address calls for full equality of civil marriages and civil partnerships, as our religious experience leads us to seek a change in the law so that same sex marriages can be celebrated, witnessed and reported to the state in the same way as heterosexual marriages.”
Notes to editor:
- For a briefing on Quaker view on same sex marriage see www.quaker.org.uk/samesexbriefing
- At their Yearly Meeting in York in 2009, Quakers sought a change in the law so that same sex marriages can be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, reported to the state, and recognised as legally valid, without further process, in the same way as opposite sex marriages are celebrated in Quaker meetings. Quakers consider that they should be able to follow the insights of their membership in celebrating life-long committed relationships between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, in exactly the same way as they currently recognise the marriage of opposite sex couples.
- Approximately 23,000 people attend Quaker Meetings for Worship in Great Britain, and there are more than 475 Meetings.
- Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends.
Amid the clamour of some vociferous religious opposition to the latest announcement that the British government intends to break its embargo on the celebration of Civil Partnerships on religious premises, this statement from the Quakers (Society of Friends) in the U.K. puts the whole matter into a more charitable perspective.
The government initiative was introduced laregly at the request of those religious and civil institutions that believe that LGBT persons are authentic co-members of the community at large, and therefore entitled to receive the blessing of God upon their committed, faithful, and monogamous partnerships. Where pastors and congregations are welcoming of such intentional life-long relationships, it is difficult to see why churches are unable to celebrate them within their own premises. One can only hope that the Church of England will not be seen to be niggardly of offering similar facilities to congregations desirous of celebrating committed, faithful same-sex partnerships.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch