A Better Marriage Proposal?

BCN 116 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 116, December 2012

As BCN goes to press the government are about to reveal their revised plans for the introduction of same-sex marriage.

The announcement follows last Spring’s consultation process, and then a six month delay while the civil service worked its way through a quarter of a million responses.  BCN was among the organisations and individuals responding – we urged the proposals should go further and include marriage in religious venues. We also proposed that the law should be written in such a way that services could be conducted without any gendered words such that people who do not identify as male or female would not have the awkward moment of being referred to as a wife or husband.

Pre–announcement leaks and remarks in interviews suggest that the proposals will go further than those in the original consultation document, including marriage at places of worship (churches and so forth) where that particular institution is happy to conduct them.  This frees up inclusive groups like Quakers and Unitarians to carry out same-sex weddings, without forcing it on those groups which are unwilling.

We don’t know yet what the timetable will be, though PM Cameron has said he wants to press ahead quickly now the consultation phase is ended: it is probably most likely to be in the next Queen’s Speech in May.

Our survey of BCN readers a year ago suggests most want to have the option of both same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnerships: it seems unlikely the latter will be included in the measures before parliament.