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Marriage proposed without benefit of clergy, buildings . . .

by
04 July 2014

by a staff reporter

AP

Married:  Western Australian politician Stephen Dawson, right, gives his husband Dennis Liddelow a kiss after their wedding in front of Parliament House, Canberra, on Saturday 

Married:  Western Australian politician Stephen Dawson, right, gives his husband Dennis Liddelow a kiss after their wedding ...

A CONSULTATION on whether to allow "non-religious-belief" organisations, such as humanists, to conduct weddings has been launched by the Ministry of Justice. Currently about 600 to 800 humanist weddings are carried out each year in the UK, but they do not have any legal validity. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which came into force this year, requires the Government to review whether such "alternative" marriage ceremonies should be legally permitted.

The White Paper, published by the Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties, Simon Hughes MP, asks whether there is a "substantial case" for establishing non-religious-belief ceremonies as a third type of legal ceremony, alongside religious and civil ceremonies.

As existing marriage laws are based on the ceremony's taking place in a building registered for that purpose - with the exception of Quaker and Jewish ceremonies - the consultation asks whether such ceremonies should be allowed to be held outdoors, or only on certified or non-religious premises. The paper says: "Many couples . . . may wish to get married outdoors or in a non-registered building, and so may view the change as unfair."

The British Humanist Society is campaigning to change the law to allow humanist weddings to have legal status. In Scotland, a new Bill has broadened the religious category of marriage to include "religion or belief", putting humanists on the same footing as faith organisations.

The public consultation will run until September.

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