Why marriage is important• Marriage is one of the most important institutions we have. It is the bedrock of a stable and happy society• Giving all couples the right to marry will help ensure marriage remains relevant and vibrant today• Being gay is not a good reason for the State to stop couples marrying• Under our proposals, same-sex couples will be able to marry
Background – marriage and civilpartnership• Marriage is currently only possible between a man and a woman• Marriage can be formed either in a civil ceremony (register office of other approved premises like a hotel) or through a religious ceremony• Civil Partnership Act 2004 gave equivalent rights and responsibilities as marriage• More than 50,000 since introduction in 2005• Since December 2011 civil partnerships can be held on religious premises (on a voluntary basis)
Civil partnerships are not marriage• Civil partnerships were an important step forward• But, differences between marriage and civil partnership have remained: – 2 separate, legal institutions, with 2 separate names; – You are married by saying a set form of words; civil partners only sign a register – Existing ban creates problems for people seeking a gender recognition certificate • To change your gender, you currently have to end your marriage
Protections for religious bodies• Freedom of religion is already guaranteed under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights• ‘Quadruple lock’ provides additional security for religious organisations• We will continue to work closely with religious organisations on details of these protections• We recognise strong feelings on both sides of the debate
For the record• No religious body will be forced to conduct same sex marriages• Equal marriage doesn’t change anything about our approach to teaching in schools. Head teachers will still decide what teachers in their school should teach• We are not removing the terms ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ or ‘father’ and ‘mother’
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