Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

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Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Equal Civil Marriage consultation

It was a busy day yesterday – launching the Coalition’s consultation which outlines plans to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage ceremony. You can access a copy of the full consultation document on the Home Office website – here .

The Coaltion Government recognises that there are a wide range of views on this issue and wants to hear from all perspectives. So please send in your views by completing a simple, online survey available here .

You can follow this on twitter at #equalcivilmarriage.

If you have any queries, please email Holly.Riley@geo.gsi.gov.uk

Fri 16 March 2012
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Comments

  1. Bob Churchill says:

    Question 5 on the online consultation is an ambiguous train wreck of a sentence. Does one tick Agree to agree with the non-proposing of religious same-sex marriage? Or does one tick Agree to agree with the hypothetical proposal of relgious same-sex marriage contra the consultation’s proposals. I’ve heard rational people interpreting it both ways.

    (A more cynical person might suggest the question almost seems designed to have to be ignored later since it will produce no usable data on the controversial topic of religious same-sex marriage.)

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    I have seen two polls so far, both with clear majorities AGAINST redefining marriage. I hope you really will listen to the people on this vital matter and reject the idea.

  3. Urgh, “redefining”! I’m so sick of this word right now.

    Stewart, stop swallowing Christian Institute’s propaganda weasel words. Instead of “redefining” (after all, surely two people in love is the more important part of how we understand marriage) how about thinking of it as “opening up” marriage, i.e. to more people. How about using the term “extending” marriage, instead of redefining. How about thinking less of one particular narrow understanding of a *word*, and more about the love and freedom of actual *people*.

    “Marriage” is not like 1+1 or triangles have three sides. It’s not an analytic truth that you can’t logically alter. It’s a social institution and it does change over time. Allowing a few more people to partake in it will not be the death of civilization.

  4. Thomas Thurman says:

    I am so glad you are listening to the people on this vital matter and not polls run by third parties with axes to grind.

  5. Paul says:

    Why on earth are you planning to still restrict civil partnerships to same-sex couples only?

    If they are continue you presumably must expect some couples to still prefer them, yet you plan to deny that choice to heterosexual couples.

    This makes no sense. Equality should be seen from both sides.

  6. Dave Page says:

    Paul, the consultation asks (in a very badly worded question) whether civil partnerships should be opened to mixed-sex couples.

    Lynne, could you promote our site http://www.abouttime.org.uk/ which has a step-by-step guide to filling in the consultation?

    Also, not all couples who get married are heterosexual, and not all couples who enter civil partnership are homosexual. That’s why we talk about equal marriage, so all couples are included.

  7. Dave Page says:

    Bob, it’s interesting that the PDF version of the proposal words Q5 differently – it says “The government is not considering the proposal to allow religious same-sex marriage. Do you agree?” (not exact wording). This is a lot less ambiguous, and the online question needs to be clarified immediately by the GEO.

  8. Thanks Dave.
    Even that wording’s a bit rubbish. And the whole thing is such a weird little compromise: we’re not considering X, so please tell us about X.
    Anyway, I guess this implies we can interpret the question on the online version as “Do you agree that we shouldn’t be considering religious same-sex marriage?”
    To which the answer is of course, no. If we’re finally going to have civil same-sex marriage, then what on earth is the point of prohibiting those churches that want to conduct religious same-sex marriages from doing so!

  9. Paul Brunning says:

    Dear Ms Featherstone,

    Marriage is marriage. There is no distinction in law or in peoples’ minds between a marriage contracted in a registry office, hotel, beach or a church. Once marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples there will inevitably be pressure to allow (and then require) these to be solemnised in churches. We are seeing this happen in relation to civil partnerships. Peter Tachell has already said that your proposal doesn’t go far enough. How can we give any credence to your assurance that the current proposal will not affect churches & religious groups? Changing the definition of marriage – which is what you propose – necessarily affects everyone in society.

  10. Stewart Cowan says:

    Bob – Marriage is not just about love. Should any two (or more) people who love each other be allowed to marry?

    Of course not. Marriage is here for a purpose.

    And before a few years ago, no country ever had ‘gay marriage’ because of the utter importance of (heterosexual) marriage in forming stable societies.

    That’s why ‘redefining’ it would be a disaster.

    This is a truth known throughout the ages and now lost to many in the age of political correctness.

  11. Stewart, neither I nor the government is suggesting that literally any two people (or more) should be allowed to get married. Obviously. That’s just silly.

    It’s just about same-sex couples (of due age, not including animals or siblings etc) who want the same right – not a separate but equal partnership but actual marriage – as is currently afforded most of the population are already afforded.

    Compare: marriage used to be defined in this country such that it was an institution whereby a woman’s property became the property of her new husband. That was an integral, legal part of the definition of marriage in Britain. The Married Woman’s Property Act changed that. Some women, I believe, are fairly happy with the new definition, under which they get to keep all their stuff. So it isn’t true, is it, that marriage can’t change, and change for the better?

    It does not follow that just because we extend marriage rights to same-sex couples that therefore in the near future people will be marrying giraffes and that the sky over the UK will crash down on us. Society isn’t going to disintegrate just because a few more people are allowed to marry. Unless you’d care to explain how.

    The reason no country had ‘gay marriage’ previously was not the utter importance of heterosexual marriage but because it has taken a long time to recognise and get over the taboo surrounding the existence of sexual minorities. (But by the way, just to give a few example of how things aren’t as simple as you imagine, the historical Church has in fact married pairs of women and pairs of pious males, and classical civilization widely recognised that sometimes men like men, and women like women, and by and large if they saw it as a bit odd, at least being crappy to them at least wasn’t the church-of-the-day’s main reason for being. And you know, across parts of Africa, before the British exported homophobia there, there were words that basically meant ‘gay’, that weren’t always particularly nasty, and by and large no one was going around trying to kill them. Thanks to evangelical religion that’s now changed.)

    Even accepting the importance of heterosexual marriage, you have made no argument – and I have not seen or heard any argument – which cogently suggests that same-sex marriage would undermine the functions of heterosexual marriage.

    No one has made any argument, let alone produced any evidence, to suggest by what mechanisms same-sex marriage will destroy society, or that it will change all our genes such that the “complementarity of male and female” is somehow forgotten.

    No married person has explained how their own marriage would suffer or fall apart or somehow become less meaningful, just because some other people they don’t even know have the right to also get married. If you are married, will you view your marriage as demeaned if same-sex couples can marry? Will it fall apart? If you’re not married, but intend to be some day, will same-sex marriage just make it not worth while anymore so you won’t bother? No one seems to think the value of their own marriage will be affected, however keen they are to say that same-sex marriage will somehow diminish all marriages, all families, etc.

    But if you want to explain how that will happen then I’m sure the Home Office will be pleased to read about it, because averting the end of civilization is I believe a priority of the government.

  12. David says:

    Why aren’t all comments available to view?

  13. Marriage means the union of a man and woman to make it possible that they can bring children into a stable and loving relationship. Of course gay people want to show their commitment to each other but that is not a marriage. I have been a liberal member all my life but I object to the coalition messing with the English language.

  14. David says:

    I posted a comment yesterday, which simply asked, if you disagree with the proposals are you automatically going to be branded homophobic? How does this impact on free speech? Has my comment been removed?

    What kind of a consultation is it when you say the proposals are going to be implemented anyway and those who disagree are disparaged by being branded bigots and homophobes?

  15. David says:

    Sorry to come back again but I’ve just read the Independent article which states; “Ms Featherstone made clear that her mind is already made up, giving a “cast-iron guarantee” that civil gay marriage would become law by the next general election in 2015.” Can you tell me what the point of this consultation is please?

  16. Steve James says:

    @David

    Sorry David but progressives don’t do engagement with narratives (meta or otherwise) that don’t fit in with theirs.

    It’s just the way they are.

    Strange but one of the libs/progressives/leftists favourite saying is “the many – not the few”

    Obviously unless it comes to homosexual marriage of assisted suicide

  17. Steve James says:

    ##CORRECTION## last line – doah!

    @David

    Sorry David but progressives don’t do engagement with narratives (meta or otherwise) that don’t fit in with theirs.

    It’s just the way they are.

    Strange but one of the libs/progressives/leftists favourite saying is “the many – not the few”

    Obviously unless it comes to homosexual marriage OR assisted suicide

  18. Paula says:

    @ David

    The consultation appears to be on how equal civil marriage will be implemented and not if it should be.

    It has been established that religions will not be able to solemnize equal civil marriage. Perhaps for those religions that do not approve of equal civil marriage, they should now determine how they intend to treat ‘equally married couples’ *within* their religions and inform the consultation, to ensure any possible discriminatory conduct would be lawful?

    It would be better to include, as best as possible, any such ‘conduct’ in the primary legislation rather than rely on the Courts after the event.

    Again noting that religious equal civil marriage will not be possible, it is established that religions can legally discriminate against those of whom they do not approve. A minister of religion can refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony if he/she has reason to believe that one party might have a gender recognition certificate. Of course, this provision can also impact non trans folk whose appearance may be inconsistent with their legal sex.

    There is also the opportunity to inform and quantify any detriment that would be caused to the concept of religious marriage by the introduction of equal civil marriage. Relevant evidence would be what impact the introduction of civil marriage had on religious marriage. Did this fundamental change have any impact on those who had married in a church?

    If so, did they get over it?

    . If there is any coconcentrate on ensuring that they establish that any discriminatory treatment to ‘equally married couples’

  19. Margaret says:

    I am just wondering how many people this new legislation will effect? Are thousands of couples demanding the change? It seems to me that the Civil Partnership gives same sex couples all the legal rights of a civil marriage. Their personal commitment is the same. Why do we need to change marriage, which means a contract between a man and a woman, for life, to the exclusion of all others?
    There does not seem to be much consultation ,as I understand the term, if the changes are going to be forced through anyway. What about the people who don’t want these changes? It does not mean they are Homophobic as has been suggested, but wish to keep the traditional meaning of marriage . There are millions of people who are married in this sense and do not wish it to change. What is it that is lacking in a Civil Partnership?

  20. Dave Page says:

    Lynne, I’m sad to say that Holly Riley at the GEO hasn’t responded to my e-mail, and neither has the general consultation e-mail address.

    If the two important questions Q5 and Q8 on equal religious marriage and equal civil partnerships are so badly worded, how can the many respondents (along with Liberal Democrat party policy) who want to see full equality get their views across to the Government?

    I urge you to look into this as soon as possible. Your consultation is undermined, and its results will be meaningless on these issues, unless these are addressed.

  21. KEVIN LEES says:

    We find it totally wrong and satanic to allow proper Gay marriage in a house of God. Anyone who wishes to see this or would fight for this anti-Christian message is an apostate and non-believer in the true teachings of the Bible and the truth. You are being led astray by these wolves in sheep’s clothing who are trying to demean and destroy the teachings of God and all he stands for. There can be no changing of his words just to be modern in this devilish 21st century sick society we now live in. This proposal is totally wrong. If the gay fraternity wish to be blessed in the house of the Lord, they should repent their sins first and then be accepted into these holy places. There should be no place for PRACTISING Homosexuals and Lesbians in this holy place unless they change their ways in order to belong to the church. We would not hurt or hate Gays or Lesbians, but they must not be allowed to go the full stretch and get married in church.
    This proposal is abhorrent and wrong and we are sick of the last and only last remaining institution we believe IN and have true faith in, being ruined and brought down by anti- Christian politically correct factions. It must be stopped. This was not in the manifestos of the Coalition parties.
    It is disgraceful that the Conservative party should even consider this in the first place. Jesus will be very sad that you want to do this. He and God will not be pleased with this no matter how much your party tries to declare in propaganda terms that they will . ,As for that wretched party of the Lib Dems we have no words to describe what we think of them. Christian thoughts of course but we do not find their policies or truths if they have any, very Christian inspiring.

  22. Julie Carpenter says:

    @KEVIN LEES – ‘Satanic’? Really? Please remember that the Unitarian Churches, the Quakers and other religious groups support equal marriage.

    Oh, and just to be clear – this proposal is about CIVIL marriage. Sadly those religious groups who want to marry gay people are being prevented from doing so to appease others.

  23. Steve Shuter says:

    And the comments of Kevin are the reasons we need equal marriage now. Civil Partnership by its very nature offers something but is not the same. It institutionalises homophobia. To say my love for my partner is less than the love for your husband and wife is derogatory and vile. TO claim it’s about husband and wife to provide a stable relationship to bring forth children in a stable relationship is utter rubbish there are thousands of single parents, unwed couples, and infertile couples out there. What I do agree with is I want a marriage so that my son, biological before u rant, has a stable family unit that is not defined as like but defined as the same.

  24. Peter Roberts says:

    Wow. Such is the power of the Internet that people can now post messages from another century. Amazing, Kevin.

    Can someone help me out and tell me what this is all about because I haven’t got it yet. Can you include things in a Civil Marriage ceremony you can’t in a Civil Marriage ceremony, is there any important legal rights difference or is this just about the two words ‘marriage’ and ‘partnership’?

  25. Peter Roberts says:

    Whoops. Sigh. Substitute ‘civil partnership’ for one of those ‘civil marriage’s.

    I sincerely do not understand why people seem to be arguing about this. I assume it is something to do with the word marriage – but don’t know and would like to. .

  26. Steve Shuter says:

    It’s about a two tier system, being offered something which although the church has no input, has been tailored down to appease religion. At the end of the day Peter it’s like saying it tastes like chicken but its not. To some it may seem semantics, but they fail to see how derogatory it is having to settle for something that is not viewed the same. But for others such as Transgender peoples if they are married they must divorce prior to recognition. To me that is barbaric, for those going through transition it’s a painful enough time, for those whoe have supportive partners why force them to get divorced and add pain such a difficult time. Either way as you have seen from some of the above vile comments though it evidences homophobia is rife under the biggoted veil or religious opinion. I’m all for religion but not at the expense of others basic human rights or to perpetuate hatred of other religions. I find the latter truly despicable and feel sorry that they are so damaged with their hatred of others!

  27. Peter Roberts says:

    Got it now. Thanks.

    Not something I could take personally. My partner and I have been together for 26 years. She’s female. I’m male. We don’t need a rubber stamp from authority. Fully understand that not everyone feels like that, the lawis important for some relationships and (now) that when it comes to equality ‘marriage’ can be really important.

  28. David says:

    Steve I wonder if you have any comment on how the consultation is being conducted. Lynne Featherstone and Teresa May are declaring that the Governments’ proposals will be implemented, no matter what views are expressed. I am also concerned that labelling anyone, who expresses concern or opposition, as homophobic is counter productive, as the issue then becomes one of freedom of expression and freedom of thought. If the Government force these changes through without proper discussion I fear this will only lead to resentment and fuel homophobia, rather than arriving at an agreed and amicable solution.

  29. MiGHOW says:

    Anyone who wants MORE state involvement in their personal affairs, needs their sanity checking.

  30. Peter Hargreaves says:

    Does the government plan to make religious bodies conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies?

    If the answer to that is NO, then what is the position in UK discrimination law when a religious body refuses? Will religious bodies be protected from legal attack on discrimination /equalities grounds?

    I have seen this question raised in the media but no clear answer is given.

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