The United Kingdom moved ever closer to full marriage equality last week when the Prime Minister, David Cameron pledge his support for gay marriage, both in civil offices and religious places of worship such as churches, synagogues and mosques. Speaking after an event in Redditch last Friday afternoon he said “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.” However he had it clear that even though he is a passionate support of same sex marriage, he doesn’t want religious institutions to be forced into conducting gay ceremonies, “But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it. That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”
The results of a government consultation on marriage equality will become known in the next few days however, information already leaked suggests that not only the government go to Europe to fix in a legal lock to protect churches and religious from being sued should they choose not to conduct same sex marriages. The UK Culture Secretary, Maria Miller will formally launch the same-sex marriage bill on 13th December, when she officially reveal the government’s response to the consultation. A government spokesman said: ‘We are committed to bringing equal civil marriage forward and the consultation results will be announced next week. We are very clear that religious organisations must be protected and that none will be forced to conduct same-sex marriage. EU law is very clear that this is the case and we will additionally bring in very strong legal locks to ensure that this is watertight.’
Many believe the legislation will pass when it is debated in Parliament as the leaders of all three major parties have already confirmed their support for gay marriage, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister said ‘I’m a supporter and always have been of same sex marriage, because I think marriage is a wonderful thing, a wonderful institution. It’s a demonstration of a couple’s commitment to each other, of their loving relationship and they wish to celebrate that in the eyes of society and I think we should make that celebration, that ceremony if you like, available to everyone regardless of who they are. It’s very important to remember that in our plans we’re not going to force any church or any religious denomination to hold same sex marriage ceremonies if they don’t want to but I do think it’s time that we allow any couple, no matter who they are, to marry if that’s what they want to do.’
The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are among some other religious denominations that have voiced their anger and complete opposition to same-sex marriage, however there are some, perhaps more enlightened religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism, that are in favour of gay marriage and are believed to be likely to apply to be allowed to stage ceremonies. The recording clerk for the Quakers in Britain, Paul Parker, said: “For Quakers, this is an issue of religious freedom and we don’t seek to impose this on others.”
With the majority of society supporting the move in the UK there has never been a better time for marriage equality to come to fruition.