Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has recently said that the government was entitled to introduce same-sex marriages, which she says would be “a change for the better”. She was responding to comments from Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, who said that “not even the church” owns marriage.
Alex and I have been in a civil partnership for just over three years. I often describe us as “happily married”, mainly because “happily civilly partnered” is such a bloody mouthful.
The law in the UK only recognises civil marriage or civil partnership as valid for its purposes. And it is in the law, and only there, that Ms Featherstone should be seeking equality.
Given that most of the objections to “gay marriage” are coming from the religiously inclined I have a simple solution to offer her. Repeal the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Acts and replace them with a “Union Act” which would deal with the relationship between two people and remove civil registration of that union from religious premises. ALL couples would be required to attend a Register Office and if they then choose to celebrate their union in a place of worship that is up to them.
Once that’s done the religions can go off into a corner and argue about the meaning of “marriage” or how many angels can stand on the head of a pin.