Council Lend Support to Gay Marriage Law

By Paul Lacey

Gay PrideProposals to introduce civil marriage to replace civil partnerships across England and Wales have received the full backing of Brighton and Hove City Council.

All three main party leaders in the council added their names to a letter of support sent to the Government Equalities Office as its consultation period ended yesterday (14th June).

The council’s Policy and Resources committee highlighted the fact that to not respond to the proposals would have led to a ‘reputational risk’ in a city with a large LGBT community.

The Green Council Leader Jason Kitcat, said: “I’m delighted we are united in supporting the proposals to allow same-sex couples to have civil marriages.

“These proposals are another step towards full equality.  I hope this will deliver much needed change whilst allowing existing faiths and traditions to continue unaffected.”

The government consultation, which started in April 2012, includes proposals that will see same-sex couples able to marry in civil ceremonies in registered offices and premises.

Religious premises will still be exempt from being forced to conduct same-sex marriages but the Church of England has said that it will face legal challenges in the European courts if the law passes.

In a statement to the Home Secretary, the Church of England also argued that the law would ‘alter the intrinsic of marriage as the union of a man and a woman’ and that would be ‘deeply unwise’ to alter the meaning of the term.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said that the Church of England’s concerns were a: “masterclass in melodramatic scaremongering.”

He added: “There’s no evidence whatsoever that people will take legal cases against the church.”

Other measures in the consultation will look at allowing those already in civil partnerships to convert into a civil marriage and individuals to legally change their gender without having to get divorced.

Government ministers aim the pass the law by 2015.

Brighton and Hove currently has 44 approved venues for civil partnerships, including the royal Pavilion, Brighton Bandstand and Brighton Pier.

The city is the most popular place for civil partnerships in the UK with 297 being registered since January 2011.

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