The Quakers have announced that they plan to conduct services for same-sex ‘marriage’.
Following discussions at a recent annual meeting, the Quakers say they will “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages”.
At the same time the Quakers call on the Government to legalise homosexual marriage.
The minutes of the annual meeting encourage Quakers to “engage with our Governments to seek a change in the relevant laws so that same-sex marriages notified in this way can be recognised as legally valid, without further process, in the same way as opposite sex marriages celebrated in our meetings.”
‘Gay rights’ campaigner Peter Tatchell praised the move, saying: “The Quakers’ decision to open up marriage to same-sex couples, on exactly the same basis as heterosexual couples, is an honourable, courageous, trail-blazing decision.
“It exposes the homophobia of other faiths that refuse to recognise love and commitment between couples of the same sex, and it specifically exposes their denial of religious marriage to same-sex couples,” he added.
Quaker registrars, like Rabbis and Church of England ministers, have the authority to perform marriages on behalf of the state.
But a same-sex ‘marriage’ would not be a lawful marriage. It would not be recognised in law because the legal definition of marriage is the lifelong exclusive union of a man and a woman.
While the UK allows civil partnerships, the Government and the courts have rejected any attempt to redefine marriage itself.
Last month, The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said: “The Bible’s teaching shows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the way to express our sexual nature.
“We welcome homosexuals, we don’t want to exclude people, but we want them to repent and be changed,” he added.
The Quakers, officially known as the Religious Society of Friends, have acknowledged same-sex partnerships since the 1960s.
About 20 Quaker meetings have held ceremonies celebrating homosexual relationships since the 1990s.