September 18, 2011
England and Wales could have gay marriage by 2015
The Government has announced plans to allow gay couples to get married. An official consultation on reforming England and Wales’ marriage laws will begin in March 2012, and could be in place before the next election in 2015.
The reform would only apply to civil marriage, and not religious marriage. Churches and other religious buildings would not be obliged to host gay marriages.
Some religious groups, including Unitarians, Liberal Jews and Quakers have welcomed the plans for gay marriage. Others, including Roman Catholics and Anglicans are insisting that marriage should only be for heterosexual couples.
Gay couples have been able to take part in Civil Partnerships since 2004. Civil Partnerships offer the same legal rights as marriage, but cannot be referred to as marriages and currently must be secular with no hymns or religious readings, pending a review of a Government consultation on allowing Civil Partnerships on religious premises.
Civil Partnerships are currently available only to same-sex couples. The marriage reforms would not make Civil Partnerships available to heterosexual couples.
Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announced the marriage law reform plans at the Liber Democrat annual conference on Saturday.
“I am delighted to confirm that early next year, this Government will begin a formal consultation on equal civil marriage for same-sex couples,” said Featherstone. “This would allow us to make any legislative changes before the end of this Parliament.
“Civil partnerships were a very welcome first step, but as our constitution states, this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. And I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another, is not only discrimination, it is simply not fair.”
The reformed marriage laws would apply in England and Wales only.
Mike Freer HoC speech on gay marriage
Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, gives a speech in the House of Commons in favour of same sex marriage proposals.
February 5, 2013