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Government announces same-sex marriage bill

Equal marriage: it’s on its way, says government

Louise Carolin

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 14:06:09 GMT | Updated 4 years today

Equalities minister Maria Miller has announced that the government will introduce a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry.


Earlier this year the government received 228,000 responses to its consultation on same-sex marriage.


While many support the move, there is significant opposition amongst religious groups and conservative organisations.


Faith groups including liberal Judaism, the Unitarians and Quakers welcome equal marriage and look forward to being allowed to conduct same-sex marriages in their premises. Other groups say they are afraid that they will be forced to offer marriages against their beliefs.


Miller has described what she terms a "quadruple lock system" that will protect such institutions from legal challenges. The bill will state that no religious organisation or minister can be forced to marry a gay couple, or to permit a gay wedding on their premises, existing equalities legislation will be amended to make this clear, the bill will say that gay couples cannot be married in a church unless that religious organisation has opted in to the system and the bill will explicitly ban the Church of England and the Church in Wales from conducting gay marriage.


Positioning the bill as an expression of Conservative support for the institution of marriage, she said that the plans will ensure marriage remains a "vibrant institution".


Under the terms of the bill civil partnerships will remain as an option for same-sex couples only. Trans people will no longer be required to first end their marriages in order to change their legal gender.


One hundred Conservative MPS have threatened to rebel against the bill. The Conservative party has promised its MPs a free vote.


Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: 'We're delighted about the government's statement today and welcome the promise to legislate for equal marriage as warmly as on the three previous occasions that this announcement has been made.


'We're particularly pleased that ministers have been persuaded to extend their original proposal in order to permit same-sex marriages for those religious denominations that wish to hold them. This is an important matter of religious freedom.


'While we fully respect the point of view of those who oppose the government's plans, our advice to them remains that if you don't approve of same-sex marriage, then just make sure you don't get married to someone of the same sex.'




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