After watching the News over the weekend I was delighted to learn of Equalities Minster Lynne Featherstone’s proposal to lift the ban on civil partnerships taking place in religious places in England and Wales.
‘About time’ were the sentiments echoed in our household. However, after reading this article on the BBC News website, my delight rapidly descended into despair and anger.
Under the proposals there are no plans to compel religious organisations to hold ceremonies for same sex couples. ‘Fair enough’ most will say but in the absence of compulsion how many institutions will actually open their doors and embrace same sex ceremonies? The answer: very few, in my opinion.
It appears that even if same sex couples are welcomed, hymns and bible readings may well remain reserved for ‘privileged’ heterosexual couples only!
“You mustn’t have rights that trump other rights” was, in my view, a bizarre comment for the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sematu, to make whilst appearing on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. It left me wondering, what ‘other rights’ is he referring to? What rights of church goers are fettered by allowing same sex ceremonies? I very much doubt those opposed to the proposal will be at the top of the invitee lists, in any event.
Perhaps some may see my view as somewhat blinkered and perhaps my agnostic beliefs are at play but when I hear comments such as “Same sex marriages have no place in any house of religious worship” (Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet, Mill Hill Synagogue and columnist for Jewish News, speaking to the BBC), I can’t help but ask ‘why’?
With 26,000 Civil Partnerships registered as at May 2010 one thing is clear – same sex couples surely cannot continue to be denied the same choices afforded to heterosexual couples when it comes to marriage. Mrs Featherstone is expected to make her announcement in the next few weeks and I for one, will await it eagerly.
For a free initial consultation about a Civil Partnership call the Family Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.