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Allow same sex marriage ceremonies in places of worship

Comment 9th July 2010

Recently representatives of some religions such as the Quakers and Unitarians campaigned to be allowed to perform same sex ceremonies at their places of worship.

This was vetoed with the argument that it would be the start of a slippery slope ending with the church being forced to do the same.

The rule denies the religious freedom of these religions in purely internal affairs. The couples can have their partnerships under current law, but are forbidden to do this at their own place of worship and forbidden to use anything religious in their service.

The church has recently argued about the importance of religious freedom to defend its priviledges where they conflict with legislation and win an ammendment to equalities legislation. Religious freedom must always take into account the effects on others, but in this case it is hard to see how allowing a Quaker same sex couple to marry at their own place of worship rather than going to the registry office can be seen as damaging to others.


Since 2005, same-sex couples in Britain have been allowed to take part in civil partnership ceremonies. These give them similar legal rights to married spouses, but the law required the events to take place in register offices or approved venues such as hotels and stately homes. The ceremony itself has had to be secular, with no hymns or Bible readings, in order to preserve the historic definition of religious marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Why does this matter?

The current legislation penalises people based on the prejudices of people who are not even present, never mind effected by the banned activity.

The law is about balancing rights, but there's nothing to balance here.

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