Anyone who’s been watching the news will know the results, but I’ll post them anyway: the bill has been passed by a vote of by 400 to 175 (a majority of 225). According to the BBC Website:
Their decision to back the bill at second reading signifies that they approve of it in principle. The legislation will now receive more detailed parliamentary scrutiny.
If it becomes law, the bill will enable same-sex couples, who are currently able to engage in civil partnerships, to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies – the latter only with the consent of religious institutions.
Of course, whenever anyone brings up same-sex marriage there’s always talk about the churches and their ‘rights’. I personally think the churches have way too much say in all this, especially when I don’t believe most gay people will suddenly want their weddings in a church that doesn’t accept them.
However this bill has specifically stated that churches will not be ‘forced’ to perform same-sex marriages, and there have been stipulations put in place in this bill to safeguard them.
The ‘quadruple lock’ as promised by Culture Secretary Maria Miller for religious groups who oppose gay marriage involve:
- No religious organisation or individual minister being compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises
- Making it unlawful for religious organisations or their ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so
- Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple
- The legislation explicitly stating that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples
Meaning, if the big guys upstairs haven’t said yes, the little minister around the corner who thinks everyone is equal can’t perform the marriage.
You know, I can kind of understand that these religious organisations need this kind of pandering to try and make them feel better about the whole issue (it hasn’t, they continue to lobby against the bill anyway..). But it makes me think ‘What are they truly afraid of?’.
It’s not like we’re planning to take over their churches, synagogues, or mosques (yes, it’s not just the Catholics or Anglicans..), or force them to perform some unspeakable act during a marriage ceremony.
All the gay community is looking for is to be treated equal to their straight counterparts. And let’s be honest, a ‘civil partnership’ is not the same thing and perpetuates the notion that same-sex relationships are not as valid as heterosexual ones, and the legal rights are still not exactly the same as those conferred by marriage.
Home Secretary Theresa May and Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone say:
“Put simply, it’s not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.”
It’s great to see common sense is finally paving the way towards proper equality.