*** DEBUG END ***

Quakers to treat same-sex unions as marriage

05 August 2009

by Pat Ashworth

Support: Canon Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican Quaker, and his wife, Professor Barbara Eindhorn, at Gay Pride in Brighton, on Saturday. See Letters

Support: Canon Paul Oestreicher, an Anglican Quaker, and his wife, Professor Barbara Eindhorn, at Gay Pride in Brighton, on Saturday. See Letters

QUAKERS endorsed same-sex marriage at the annual meeting of the Religious Society of Friends last week in York.  They reaffirmed “a central insight that marriage is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses”.

The Quakers regard all human beings as equally worthy of respect. As early as 1963, their publication Towards a QuakerView of Sex called for a sexual morality based on the worth of relationships; and they will now revise their book of Christian discipline Quaker Faith and Practice to include equal treatment of marriage and other committed partnerships.

The decision comes after a long period of consultation and what is called “threshing” in local Quaker meetings. Ministry arising out of silent worship at the two sessions devoted to the issue at the annual meeting had led Quakers “to discern the will of God for the Religious Society and record it in this minute”, they announced in a published record of the decision.

Opinion has been divided. About 20 meetings in Britain have held ceremonies for same-sex commitments over the past 12 years; and, while some Quakers had wanted partnerships to be legally registered in the same way as marriages, others had felt it was too soon.

But the decision said: “The open sharing of personal experience has moved us and added to our clear sense that, 22 years after the prospect was first raised at Meeting for Sufferings, we are being led to treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages.”

They go on: “We have heard dissenting voices during this threshing process, and have been reminded of the need for tenderness to those who are not with us, who will find this change difficult.”

The Quakers will now take steps “to put this leading into practice”, so that same-sex marriages can be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded, and reported to the state, just as opposite-sex marriages are.”

The question of legal recognition by the state, the Quakers say, is secondary.


Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)