UK religious groups praise gay marriage bill

The Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews have backed the same-sex marriage bill in England and Wales

UK religious groups praise gay marriage bill
25 January 2013

While the same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales may have got some religious organizations furious, others have issued statements praising the UK government.

Officially published today (25 January), the Liberal Jews, Quakers, and Unitarians have welcomed the law change and have said they will ‘opt in’ to hosting religious same-sex ceremonies.

Speaking to Gay Star News, a spokeswoman for Liberal Judaism said they support and promote full equality in UK marriage law for same-sex couples, including the use of the word ‘marriage’ and the option of sanctifying their relationship with a religious marriage ceremony.

Chief executive Rabbi Danny Rich said Liberal Judaism was a pioneer of measure of equality, and created the first ever liturgy for same-sex ceremonies in 2005.

‘I am delighted the Prime Minister has assisted in righting a historic wrong and the measure now has cross-party support,’ he said.

Paul Parker, from the British Quakers, said they have been hoping for marriage equality since 2009.

‘This is good news,’ he said. ‘We believe we are all born equal and therefore our love is equal too. This is the change in law we have been seeking.’

Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, said ‘Unitarians welcome the progress being made with the announcement of legislation to permit same-sex marriage.’

‘Having carried out same-sex blessings for over thirty years, we look forward to being free to perform legally valid same-sex marriages in our places of worship in the same way as we do with opposite sex couples,’ he added.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, has been strongly resisted by the leaderships of the Catholic, Anglican churches and Muslim Council of Britain, even though some of their own members back the bill.

In the proposed legislation, there will be a quadruple lock stopping gay couples from suing religious organizations for not blessing their wedding.

Firstly, it will be written on the face of the bill, and secondly, the equality act will be amended.

Thirdly, the proposal states if a religious organization says they will not bless same-sex unions, all of their ministers will be unable to marry gay couples. If a religious organization says they will allow same-sex unions, each minister will have to opt in or out of marrying gay couples.

Finally, the bill will explicitly ban the Church of England, because they are legally obliged to marry people, from conducting gay marriage ceremonies. However if they choose to opt in they will be allowed to do so.

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