Gay marriage: Government consultation underway

The Government is a week into its 12-week consultation on lifting the ban on gay civil marriages in England and Wales, confirmed by the Home Office that it will look at how to remove the barrier and enable equal non-religious marriage.

This consultation sets out the Government’s proposals to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage.

The paper also confirms that heterosexual civil partnerships are not up for review but they welcome opinions.

The Home Office consultation paper states:

  • To allow same sex-couples to get married in a civil ceremonies. In a register office of an other approved premises such as a hotel.
  • To retain civil partnership for same sex couples and to allow couples who are already in a civil partnership to convert it into a marriage.
  • To retain the ban on religious same-sex marriages.
  • To allow transgender people to legally change their gender and remain married or in their civil partnership.
  • Civil partnerships will still be allowed on religious premises (on a voluntary basis).

Liberal Democrat, Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone said: ‘I believe that if a couple love each other and want to commit to a life together, they should have the option of a civil marriage, whatever their gender.

‘Marriage is a celebration of love and should be open to everyone.’

The changes have been met with strong political and clerical opposition and MPs have been give the free vote on gay marriage instead of being whipped in back government policy.

In strong opposition to gay marriages, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Archbishop Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, said they will  “do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations”.

The new Dean of St Pauls however welcomes the idea of same-sex marriage, Rev Dr David Ison:  “We need to take seriously people’s desire for partnership and make sure that the virtues that you see in married relationships are available to people who are gay”.

A number of other countries already agree to the marriage of same-sex marriages, including Spain, Canada, Argentine, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Belgium.

Individuals and organisations are being asked by The Home Office to give their views in an online on the proposals in England and Wales in an online survey.

By Jodhi Doherty

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