The Church of England has agreed the marriage equality law will protect it from legal challenges in the future.
In a briefing before the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is discussed House of Commons on Monday (20 May), the Church said while they cannot support the bill, they do agree the government has ‘good intentions’.
A quadruple lock, which protects the Church of England as the state religion, states no religious organization or minister will be compelled to marry gay couples.
It also will be unlawful for an individual to marry a gay couple if their organization has not ‘opted in’, the Equality Act will be amended so no discrimination claim can be brought in and the legislation will explicitly state it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples.
In the briefing, the Church of England states: ‘We do not doubt the Government’s good intentions in seeking to leave each church and faith to reach its own view on same-sex marriage and offering provisions to protect them from discrimination challenges.
‘The ‘quadruple lock’ does, in our view, achieve the Government’s policy intentions in this area and we believe it is essential that the various locks in the Bill are preserved.’
The Church of England criticized the idea of humanist weddings, saying it would lead to ‘uncertainty’, and urged the government to give state registars the option of opting out of conducting same-sex marriages.
They criticized the need for straight couples to be granted the ability to have a civil partnership, after UK Culture Secretary and Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the unions will be under review in 2019.
‘We remain unconvinced that the introduction of such an option would satisfy a genuine and widespread public need, other than for those who pursue “equality” as an abstract concept,’ the Church of England said.
‘There has been little public evidence to suggest that significant numbers of opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry would opt instead for a civil partnership.
‘We are not convinced that any clear new social good is created by this further innovation in civil partnerships and therefore they are best left as they are.’