Govt goes back on word over gay marriage in church

Fri, 7 Dec 2012

The Government has broken its promise not to allow same-sex marriages in church.

Listen to Sharon James speaking for C4M on BBC Radio 5 Live

Its consultation repeatedly promised that same-sex weddings would only take place in civic, not religious settings.

But under plans to be revealed next week, the Government will give its backing to religious organisations that wish to conduct same-sex weddings.

Damage

It claims “locks” will prevent churches from being forced to host same-sex marriages. But there is concern that this will not be sufficient.

Tory MP Peter Bone said the news will “hugely damage the Government in electoral terms”.

And Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which has seen over 600,000 people sign a petition against redefining marriage, criticised the decision.

Freedoms

Colin Hart, Campaign Director of C4M, said: “The Government say they have a double lock for churches but in practice a double lock could become a double jeopardy.

“Churches could be embroiled in legal actions.

“The Government seems to have decided that it’s better for churches to be sued than for the Government to be sued in the European court.

“Surely they need to reconsider this rushed legislation which is jeopardising the freedoms of those who believe in traditional marriage.”

Vulnerable

Paul Goodman, the Executive Editor of influential blog ConservativeHome, wrote, “if some churches, say, agree to conduct same-sex marriages, but others refuse, what happens to the latter when a legal case is brought against them?”

He added: “I’m not a lawyer, but it seems at least possible that a church which refuses to conduct same-sex marriages was vulnerable before the Prime Minister’s change of heart – and is even more vulnerable after it.”

A spokesman for the Government said: “We are committed to bringing equal civil marriage forward and the consultation results will be announced next week.

‘Locks’

“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.”

Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have both previously backed same-sex marriage in churches.

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