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British Government Takes Steps Toward Marriage Equality

The British government tonight announced that it is taking steps toward marriage equality:

Featherstone The equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone (pictured), has disclosed that the government intends to consult over how marriage laws in England and Wales can be further reformed, despite strong opposition from some religious groups.

She confirmed the coalition's intention to go further, as the Home Office announced that it is lifting the prohibition on civil partnership ceremonies being held in religious places of worship.

"Over the last few months I have spoken to a lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and campaign groups and it became clear there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships," said Featherstone. "We are going to be the first British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this."

Civil partnerships will soon be allowed in churches as well:

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the move would not be compulsory: "No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward." The change will affect England and Wales but not Scotland and Northern Ireland. A formal consultation paper will be issued in May.

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  1. it's being drawn out unnecessarily... it would be just simpler to open both marriages and civil partnerships to both straight and gay couples. at this pace, when does she expect full equality to be achieved?? i'll believe it when i see it.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Feb 16, 2011 8:03:39 PM


  2. Pretty amazing considering this is a Tory coalition government. It seems the Tories have come a long way in a short time. We can expect our Republicans to join them in the 21st century somewhere around the 22nd century. I could be being a bit optimistic with that time line though.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Feb 16, 2011 8:08:33 PM


  3. No religious community any where at any time has ever been compelled to marry any one they don't want to.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Feb 16, 2011 9:58:57 PM


  4. With Hawaii, the U.S. has 12 states that recognize same-gender partnerships: 5 provide marriage equality (MA, CT, NH, VT and Iowa), 7 provide civil unions or robust domestic partnerships (CA, OR, WA, NV, NJ, IL and Hawaii in 2012). New York, Maryland and Rhode Island could push the total to 15 states plus the District of Columbia.

    Time to get hitched and honeymoon in the Aloha State!

    Posted by: TruthSeeker_Too | Feb 17, 2011 4:19:42 AM


  5. This issue shows how Labour fluffed the issue initially by creating "civil partnerships" rather than extending "civil marriage".

    In Britain, the religious marriage ceremony and the legal ceremony are already separate. Straight couples can already have registry office marriages that are devoid of religious mumbo-jumbo, and Labour should simply have extended that right to gay couples to use this form of marriage. Writing the civil partnership legislation to:
    (a) use a different terminology and (b) specifically bar religious settings was a cop-out.

    The truth is that the actual meat of civil partnership legislation gives gay couples all the legal protections to be as secure as straight married couples. Arguing about whether or not its called "marriage" is in my opinion irrelevant. And as an atheist, I don't care about getting 'married' in church/temple/synagogue/mosque - especially as all the mainstream versions of the major faiths discriminate against us and will refuse to allow the use of their venue anyway. If this goes ahead, we will still have the Daily Mail sniggering over whether or not David Furnish is Elton John's 'husband' or his 'wife', and gays & lesbians will only be able to get married in fringe churches.

    I think that instead of wasting too much time on this issue, we should focus on dealing with homophobia - especially as it relates to young people, and support efforts in the US to get full legal equality with straight married couples.

    But honeymooning in Hawai'i sounds like a great idea!

    Posted by: Graham Anderson | Feb 17, 2011 5:40:30 AM


  6. Whatever the religious connotations of marriage, it is still the term that most people understand, and I want the right to be able to say that I have married my partner, and for that relationship to be conceived as equal to and having the same value and meaning as a heterosexual marriage. I don't like having to use a different term: "civil partnership". And one way to reduce bullying is to use language to demonstrate that gay and straight people have the same rights. That's why I feel we need the word marriage to apply to us.

    I agree that Labour fudged the issue, but then that's the British way. We rarely make big gestures, but allow change to happen incrementally. Personally, I think this is sensible - big changes occurring quickly tend to stir up backlashes - look at California and all the silliness over Prop 8. We Brits achieve things quietly and modestly without all that fuss and banging on when compared to our American cousins.

    So let's not be impatient. We'll get our equality in the UK. We've gone from being criminal in 1966, to probably being able to marry in 2011/12. That's only 46 years - a blinking of an eye in the history of humanity.

    Posted by: Tom Stoppard | Feb 17, 2011 6:40:34 AM


  7. As a Brit living in the US, I am impressed by the progress that is being made on this issue. And it's a fantastic example to have a trans-woman as the country's Equality minister. Although it was initially considered to be tokenistic, she has proven herself to be entirely capable and effective politician. A great role model for the LGBT population.

    Posted by: Dean | Feb 17, 2011 11:35:37 AM


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