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UK >

Same-sex marriage to remain illegal in C of E

Ed Thornton

by Ed Thornton

Posted: 11 Dec 2012 @ 01:49

THE Government's Bill to introduce same-sex marriage will make it clear that it is illegal for any Church of England minister to marry a same-sex couple.

Announcing plans to legislate for same-sex marriage early next year, the Government said on Tuesday that the Bill would include a "quadruple lock" of measures that would "protect religious freedom". A statement from the Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, said:

"The legal locks, which will be on the face of any primary legislation, are:

  • no religious organisation, or individual minister, could be compelled to marry same-sex couples (or to permit this to happen on their premises);

  • it will be unlawful for religious organisations, or their ministers, to marry same-sex couples unless the organisation's governing body has expressly opted in to do so (and that would mean the religious organisation itself opting in, the presiding minister having consented and the premises in which the marriage is to be conducted having been registered);

  • the Equality Act 2010 would be amended to ensure that no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations or individual minister for refusing to marry a same-sex couple (or allowing their premises to be used for this purpose); and

  • the Bill will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples, or to opt-in to do so. Canon law -- which bans the marriage of same-sex couples - will continue to apply. That means that it would require a change in both primary and Canon law before Church of England and Church in Wales would be able to opt in to conduct same-sex marriages."

The Bill will allow same-sex couples to get married in civil ceremonies, and for religious organisations - apart from the Church of England and the Church in Wales - to "opt in" and conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Mrs Miller said: "I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the state should not stand in their way. These changes will strengthen marriage in our society and ensure that it remains a modern and vibrant tradition. . .

"I am absolutely clear that no religious organisation will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples, and I would not bring in a Bill which allowed that. European law already puts religious freedom beyond doubt, and we will go even further by bringing in an additional 'quadruple legal lock'. But, it is also a key aspect of religious freedom that those bodies who want to opt-in should be able to do so."

 

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