T.A. Posting on ‘Equal civil marriage consultation”

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.

The Church of England has published its initial response to this:

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:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 March 2012
Here, with appropriate links to relevant sites, is ‘Thinking Anglicans’ posting, by Simon Sarmiento, on the current state of affairs on the question being debated in public – and by the Church in the U.K. – about the possible up-coming legislation on Same-Sex Marriage by the British Government.
It is to be noted that the response of the Church of England is that, while they oppose the idea of Same-Sex Marriage, per se – because of it’s implication for the traditional understanding  of marriage being primarily for the purpose of pro-creation, within the bonds of heterosexual relationships – the C.of E. is not averse to the idea of Same-Sex Civil Partnerships – believing that they give to same-Sex couples some stability and  all the legal rights of a heterosexual Civil Partnership:
“The Church of England supports the way civil partnerships offer same-sex couples equal rights and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples”. (quote from the  C.of E. Response)
        What, apparently, the Church of England objects to is any suggestion that such a relationship – of a committed monogamous Same-Sex Couple – is to be considered equal to the relationship of a Heterosexual couple – at least, in religious terms. This, presumably, is why the Church is opposed to the idea of Same-Sex Blessings which, for some couples, would have allowed a recognisably-spiritual element into their monogamous life-long, committed relationship.
        All of this, despite the fact that existing monogamous relationships between Same-Sex couples have at least as  durable a history as that of  their heterosexual contemporaries. Surely they (who happen to be members of the Church) deserve at least the Blessing of the Church? If this had been allowed, earlier on,  by the Church, then the request by them for Marriage may not have been raised in the first place.
        Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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