England and Wales to Allow Gay Couples to Hold Civil Partnership Ceremonies in Churches

Gay couples will soon be allowed to hold civil partnership ceremonies in churches, in England and Wales, the BBC reports:

FeatherstoneEqualities Minister Lynne Featherstone (pictured) said no religious group would be forced to host them, but those who wished to could apply by the end of the year.

The Church of England said it has "no intention" of blessing gay couples.

Previously, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the change was "long overdue".

The announcement was made in a written response to a consultation. Ms Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: "The government is advancing equality for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths. "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."


  1. says

    Europe is so crazy. Many places allow marriage, but don’t allow gay couples to have children. Or England: you can have your civil partnership, which would even allow your partner to get citizenship rights, but you’re forbidden to celebrate in any church?

    As opposed to the US, where many churches have been celebrating gay unions for years, and gays & lesbians have had rights to kids for almost 20 years in some places. But we can’t get marriage equality at the federal level.

    It’s like a funhouse mirror.

  2. Anon says

    “The Church of England said it has ‘no intention’ of blessing gay couples.

    They have no problem with blessing dogs, motorcycles, boats (the fleet), etc…
    just not homosexual human beings.

    How Christian.

    Christ, please, protect me from your followers.

  3. Robert in NYC says

    KevinVT, the UK allows gay couples to have children and Lesbians are allowed to have invitro fertlization on the National Health Service. This new law will allow religious denominations to conduct a civil partnership ceremony and will be legal just like those currently performed at the local registrar’s office or other place designated to hold them in the UK. Religious denominations in the U.S. do not have any legal authorization to administer a civil union, but merely grant a blessing, big difference.

    FYI: England is about to embark on a same-sex marriage equality consultation in March 2012. Scotland’s has already begun. Several denominations have already consulted with the equalities minister Lynne Featherstone supporting the introduction of same-sex marriage in England, Wales and N. Ireland before the end of the current parliament in 2015, probably before then.

  4. says

    Robert: notice I said “many places,” not “in the UK.” Europe is a patchwork, and children have been the sticking point in many countries. The Netherlands for years allowed marriage, but explicitly excluded parental rights at first. PACS in France today allow opposite sex couples to adopt and have reproductive technology, but specifically deny that right to same sex couples who are in a PACS. Vermont has allowed second parent adoption since 1993.

    And you’re wrong about the US and churches. In every state that has Civil Unions or marriage, churches are allowed to administer them and have the legal authority (“by the authority vested in me by the state of Vermont… I now pronounce you…”). We don’t have that exclusion. Only England did.

    Yes, before Civil Unions or marriage (back in 2000 in my state), it was purely symbolic in churches, but they’ve been officiating officially since 2000.

  5. SeanR says

    But @KevininVT, Europe is not a single entity but different independent sovereign States, you’re not really comparing like with like.

  6. Danny says

    The Church of England has no intention of blessing same sex unions? Too late: many, many priests of the Church of England already do so and have done for years–probably decades in some cases–with or without official bureaucratic sanction. I daresay most of the work of the Holy Spirit would be held up in the Established Church’s bureaucratic procedure – if not voted down absolutely.

    No intention my ass.

  7. says

    “An important step forward”, but I’m not satisfied. It’s still second-class citizenship. Most churches should be thankful Gay people set foot in them at all, much less hold Civil Unions there. But we should be able to marry in church! Nothing less will fulfill the Golden Rule.