I t has been announced that the new legislation which will allow same-sex couples to marry will also allow certain churches to hold the ceremonies. The official response to the consolation won’t be until next week. However, the initial consultation document states that religions will be able to ‘opt in’ to holding the ceremonies. This means that liberal Churches such as the Quakers will at last have the right to legally marry same-sex couples.
However, the Church of England will almost certainly not be opting in and so the majority of ecclesiastical buildings in the UK will still have their doors shut to gay marriages. Despite this, it is thought Conservatives will be outraged by the move and will claim that churches will be forced to perform the ceremonies.
At an event today, David Cameron said, “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution. But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.
“That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for members of parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”
Former MP John Major has added his vocal support to the plans for equality. He has never been especially outspoken on equalty for LGBTs, however, during the early 90s he allowed a free vote on the issue of an equal age of consent (although the vote did not go in favour of equality activists on that occasion.) In a statement released by Freedom to Marry, Sir John Major said “The prime minister’s instinct to support equal marriage is a courageous and genuine attempt to offer security and comfort to people who – at present – may be together, yet feel apart…..I fully understand that there are many who will find this difficult to accept, as will the churches. But the prime minister has made it clear that the churches will be free to make their own decisions upon whether to conduct such marriages – and that is entirely the right approach.”