Thursday, 15 March 2012
The government’s long-promised consultation has been published.
Equal civil marriage consultation
This consultation sets out the government’s proposals to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage.
The key proposals of the consultation are:
- to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage i.e. only civil ceremonies in a register office or approved premises (like a hotel)
- to make no changes to religious marriages. This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman
- to retain civil partnerships for same-sex couples and allow couples already in a civil partnership to convert this into a marriage
- civil partnership registrations on religious premises will continue as is currently possible i.e. on a voluntary basis for faith groups and with no religious content
- individuals will, for the first time, be able legally to change their gender without having to end their marriage
Current legislation allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, but not civil marriage.
The full details of the consultation are included in the pdf version of the consultation document.
Initial response to Government consultation on same-sex marriage
The Church of England/Archbishops’ Council will study the Government’s consultation on whether to redefine marriage to accommodate those of the same sex and respond in detail in due course. The following summary of the Church of England’s position has been posted at http://www.churchofengland.org:
“The Church of England is committed to the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“The Church of England supports the way civil partnerships offer same-sex couples equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples. Opening marriage to same-sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.
“The issue of whether marriage should be redefined to include those of the same-sex is a more complicated picture than has been painted. Arguments that suggest ‘religious marriage’ is separate and different from ‘civil marriage’, and will not be affected by the proposed redefinition, misunderstand the legal nature of marriage in this country. They mistake the form of the ceremony for the institution itself.
“Currently, the legal institution of marriage into which people enter is the same whether they marry using a civil or a religious form of ceremony. Arguments that seek to treat ‘religious marriage’ as being a different institution fail to recognise the enduring place of the established church in providing marriages that have full state recognition. The Church of England will continue to argue against changing the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long.”
The summary of the Church of England’s position, and a selection of recent comments by bishops, can be read at: