Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages in the UK
2013-JUL-DEC: More reactions to the SSM bills.
First SSMs initially expected circa 2014-JUN.
Startup moved to earlier date: 2014-MAR-29.
In this web site, the term "SSM" means "same-sex marriage."
Reactions to marriage equality becoming law (Cont'd):
- Paul Parker, recording clerk for the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, said:
"It's wonderful to see same-sex marriage achieve legal recognition. Quakers see the light of God in everyone so we respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship." 1
- "Ra," an individual apparently named after the Egyptian sun God, posted a comment to the Pink News article that contained Sir Howarth's speech. Ra said, with tongue firmly in cheek:
"Just sending a quick note to say a big 'Thank You' for your support in getting equal marriage passed. This could not have happened without your input: your inane fears, homophobia, crazy and creepy ideas, and, especially, your temper tantrums and raging, which could not have provided more evidence to the insanity of your ilk’s reasoning to those sane and reasoned MPs and those in the House of Lords, and thus ensuring equal rights for all. I am surmising it must have been embarrassing for you and your kind; but be proud, you did a great job of it.
I will probably be marrying my partner of 15 year soon, and maybe I’ll send you an invite. But, don’t get your hopes up." 2
- Maria Miller, the Culture Minister, said:
"This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people's lives. I am proud that we have made it happen, and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer." 3
- Yvette Cooper, the shadow Women and Equalities minister, said it was the:
"... time to celebrate and not discriminate." 4
- Paul Parker, a spokesman for The Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) in Britain, issued a statement saying:
"The voice of minority faith groups has been heard on this. We respect others who do not yet share our view. For Quakers, this is a matter of religious freedom." 5
Reformed Jews and Unitarians -- both liberal/progressive religious groups -- are also long-term supporters of marriage equality in the UK.
- The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales issued a statement saying:
"The new act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarily.
This is a simple statement of the obvious: that marriage was previously confined to opposite-sex couples and will now be expanded include all gender combinations: one woman and one man, two women, and two men. The need for sexual complementarily in a loving, committed relationship doesn't make a lot of sense to same-sex couples.
The Bishops Conference continues:
"With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle."
This is a statement acknowledging that same-sex couples are infertile, as are about 15% of opposite-sex couples. Now, instead of married couples consisting of a woman and a man being responsible for raising the children in their family -- whether they are conceived as the result of sexual activity by the couple or by artificial insemination, in-in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, adoption, or whether there are children having been carried over from previous marriage(s), -- this responsibility will be extended to also include same-sex couples as well. Again, this is a statement of fact, but one that is in conflict with the Church's teaching on human sexuality. The Bishops' arguments, taken to their logical conclusion, would prohibit all marriages -- both opposite-gender and same-gender -- from adopting children, or raising children of previous marriages.
- Benjamin Cohen, the founder of the Out4Marriage campaign -- a pro-marriage equality group -- said:
"We are delighted that after five years of editorial campaigning and just three years after we received the support of the three main party leaders, same-sex marriage in England and Wales has been signed into law. Giving gay couples the right to marry will make our nation a more tolerant, open and welcoming place to live in and significantly increase the life prospects of so many people. It is absolutely fantastic that this change in the law, almost uniquely in the world, was proposed by a Conservative prime minister and his Liberal Democrat Deputy with the support of the Labour party leader. Sometimes politicians can work together for the common good and this is a stunning example of this.
Now we eagerly await the debate in the Scottish Parliament and look forward to politicians in Northern Ireland following Cameron, Clegg and Miliband in supporting gay rights. It will be ridiculous if some parts of the UK are more equal than others." 6
It seems that Northern Ireland is likely to remain the only part of the UK which will not attain marriage equality in the foreseeable future.
The law will bring very few extra rights to same-sex couples. Civil partnerships, which have been legal in England since 2005, already gave them most of the rights, benefits, and protections of marriage. However, they will now be able to refer to their relationship as a marriage. This is really the main goal of the LGBT community. They will now be able marry in a religious ceremony by any faith group other than the Church of England that is willing to marry them. Transgender and transsexual individuals who are married will now be able to register a change in their gender without having to first divorce their spouse.
In order to be married in a religious setting, both the clergyperson and their faith group would have to be in agreement with marrying same-sex couples. Either can deny access to marriage for such couples. Included in the law is the prohibition of the Church of England solemnizing same-sex marriages.
Status at the second half of 2013: Worldwide status of SSM among the English-speaking countries:
Among the predominately English-speaking major countries of the world:
2013-DEC-10: The first same-sex weddings are now expected on 2014-MAR-29:
When the SSM bill was passed, the government expected that there would be so many changes necessary to their forms and procedures in order to implement marriage equality that SSMs would not be available until sometime in 2014-JUN.
However, Maria Miller, the UK's Equalities Minister, announced that the first same-sex weddings can be solemnized on Saturday, 2014-MAR-29. She said:
"Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from March 29, 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex. ... This is just another step in the evolution of marriage and I know that many couples up and down the country will be hugely excited that they can now plan for their big day and demonstrate their love and commitment to each other by getting married."
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said:
"After a long and important battle, this is a wonderful step forward for equality. Love is the same, gay or straight, so it’s only right that the civil institution should be the same. Next March[-29] will be a real moment for celebration as same sex couples finally get the chance to express their love through marriage."
Colin Hart is the campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage -- a group opposed to marriage for same-sex couples. He said:
"It is an astonishing comment from the Secretary of State to say this is just another step in the evolution of marriage. What is the Government envisaging as the next step? ... We know that there are people planning to challenge the Government’s quadruple lock. Top lawyers have warned that they will not stand the scrutiny of the courts, raising the real prospect of legal action against vicars and other marriage celebrants who don’t want to conduct same sex marriages.
The "quadruple lock" is legislation that guarantees clergy, congregations and denominations have immunity from prosecution if they wish to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.
"It is very sad that the Government appears to be celebrating putting the rights of one minority group above the rights and beliefs of the majority."
Benjamin Cohen, the publisher of PinkNews and founder of the Out4Marriage campaign said:
"There are many gay couples who have been eagerly awaiting this news and will now be able to plan their wedding. The first marriages will, I hope, herald a new age of equality in our country, where all couples, regardless of their sexuality will be treated equally under the law, and eventually in society." 7,8
Apparently lost in the conflict over SSM is the fact that it will create a net gain for religious freedom among all faith groups in the country:
- Liberal and some mainline faith groups of all religions will be able to have their wishes fulfilled by being able to marry their same-sex engaged couples.
- Other mainline and conservative faith groups of all religions will be able to continue to discriminate with impunity against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Same-sex marriage becomes law in England and Wales," BBC, 2013-JUL-17, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
- Scott Roberts, "Sir Gerald Howarth: The ‘wretched’ equal marriage bill was ‘bulldozed’ through Parliament," Pink News, 2013-JUL-17, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
- "Gay marriage legalised in England and Wales after Queen gives royal assent to parliamentary bill," AFP, 2013-JUL-18. at: http://www.abc.net.au/
- "Britain legalizes gay marriage after Queen's approval," Associated Press, 2013-JUL-17, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
- "UK same-sex marriage bill becomes law with royal assent." The Age/Australia, 2013-JUL-18, at: http://www.theage.com.au/
- Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Equal marriage bill for England and Wales given Royal Assent and is now law," Pink News, 2013-JUL-17, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
- "UK's first gay weddings to take place March 29," Huffington Post. 2013-DEC-10, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- John Bingham, "First gay weddings in UK in time for Easter," The Telegraph, 2013-DEC-10, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2013-JUL-17
Latest update: 2014-Feb-05
Author: B.A. Robinson