Marriage is one of the significant institutions around the world including UK which connects the citizens together, offers long-run stability and commitment, and makes the society robust.
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Thus, marriage should be available to everyone including the same genders. Since 1836 in the UK, the marriage has been a civil institution as well as a religious one.
The UK government acknowledges analogues rights in all aspects of civil life and cannot excuse precluding its citizens from marrying except for cases when there are some good reasons for doing so, being a lesbian or gay is not one of them.
In recent days, there has been a wide scale political campaign which consists in legal recognition of same-sex families and partnerships in Western nations due to wider cultural development.
As per Wintemute and Andenoes (2000), the main debate remains as to whether legal acknowledgement should take the guise of civil marriage privileges or access to civil union schemes which has been regarded as a highly discordant subject in most of the gay-rights movement.
As per Heaphy (2007), only some selected nations have accorded recognition for the same-sex partners to enter into marriage wedlock as in Spain, Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands. (Klesse 66).
This research essay will analyse in depth the proposed UK legislation to recognise gay marriages as civil marriages and to allow them to be performed in the religious places, its advantages and the criticism levelled against same.
Gay Marriage in UK – An Analysis
The state of Massachusetts in thr USA is the first state, which recognised the gay marriage legally. As per Gallup (2004), though there has been a steep increase in the numbers of individuals who support that gay marriage should be legally recognised, a referendum conducted in May 2004 demonstrated that the majority of US citizens about 55% were against it (Giddens & Griffiths 436).
Nowadays, homosexuality has been acknowledged in more nations as part of their everyday life. Many nations have enacted laws to safeguard the rights of homosexuals. South Africa is the only nation in the globe that constitutionally guarantees the rights of homosexuals through its constitution which adopted a new constitution in 1996.
Many nations in Europe like Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark now authorise homosexual partners to register with the government for claiming most of rights of gay marriages (Giddens & Griffiths 436).
In the UK, there was legislation which accorded recognition to same-sex relationships before the introduction of UK Civil Partnerships Act (CPA) 2004, which came into force in December of the year 2005. As per Glennon (2006), the CPA now offers a set of privileges that are analogues to those of legal marriages.
As per Barker (2004), CPA is meant to support and promote stable partnerships and to achieve a “parity of treatment between heterosexual and same-sex spouses”.
As per Clarke et al. (2006), the CPA legislation can be regarded as a cornerstone in UK legislation history on the gay marriage, but recent research studies have pointed out that the majority of lesbians and gay men conceive CAP is falling short of creating real equalities as equal to heterosexual partners.
From December 2011 onwards, civil partnerships can be taken place in religious places where the religious institutions has agreed for the same. However, the same sex couples as of date under UK laws are precluded from marriage (Klesse 66).
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CPA is offering lesbian and gay couples the opportunity to receive analogues legal privileges as that of married couples if they select to register their union at a public civil ceremony.
Thus , the registration offers pension and social security benefits, tenancy privileges , probable parental accountability for the kids of the partners , full acknowledgement of life assurance , accountability to offer reasonable maintenance allowance for homosexual partners and their kids, visiting rights in the hospitals and the analogues tax treatment that is being given to married couples (Giddens & Griffiths 436).
As per Klesse (2006), as evidenced from the other European nations which enacted civil partnership legislation like Netherlands which offer some reason to predict that fight for real and the full equality before law with sole aim of getting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples to prolong.
Some critics are of the opinion that the codification of a Roman replica of conjugality in the CPA does not meet the full diversity of same-sex relationships (Klesse 66).
As per Barker (2006), critics are of the opinion that CPA centres around absolutely heteronormative association ideologies. It is to be observed that both the opponents and supporters of gay marriage rights considered non-monogamy has been a vital factor in the confronts about marriage rights (Klesse 66).
There is a proposal to introduce a legislation legalising gay marriage in England and Wales in 2013. It is claimed that the planned law intends to usher unassailable safeguard for religious institutions that oppose gay marriages.
As such, these religious groups who oppose same sex marriage would not obligate to perform gay marriages by law, and they would be given a preference to “opt in”.
Further, unless the governing bodies of the Church of Wales and the Church of England transform the canon laws, they would not be excluded from performing gay marriages which presently condemns it.
Legalising the gay marriages in UK will expected to offer more stability to the marriage system in UK and would guarantee to offer a vibrant and modern tradition and a fairer society for all.
The proposed gay marriage law would legalise the same-sex couples to enter into wedlock in open and in civil ceremonies and would safeguard against anyone in UK or in Europe, confronting the same in court. It is to be observed that under the Article 9 of ECHR, the EU law safeguards the religious freedom.
UK government announced on 11 December 2012 that Church in Wales and Church in England would be exempted from honouring gay marriages as these Churches have vehemently opposed to honour gay marriages.
Further, it is the stand of the UK government that gay marriage will not be compelled on religious organisation. UK government is considering to introduce the law which will allow same sex marriage which is supported by the labour party before the next election that is scheduled to be held in 2015.
The UK government is very clear that the envisaged law would not compel any religious institution in UK to conduct the gay marriage and religious institutions have opt in facility either to allow or not to opt for the same.
For same-sex couples, the civil partnership is a legal association which is discrete from marriage. The same-sex couples have to follow civil procedure exclusively whereas heterogeneous couples or opposite –sex couples has to prefer for a civil or religious marriage ceremony.
Why Supporters of Gay Marriage Stress for Gay Marriage To Be Legalised?
As per UK government, there are about 50,000 couples presently in UK have opted to civil partnerships and the proposed law will facilitate them to convert the civil partnership into civil marriage.
Advocates of gay marriage strongly are of the opinion that separate civil partnerships keep propagate the concept that same-sex association are not as legal as heterosexual marriages and that legal privileges are not analogous as that offered by regular marriages.
At present , the UK laws are silent or denying the right to a couple who has deep love for each other and desire to legalise a pledge each other and legalising the gay marriage will plug such loophole that is present as of date.
Advocates further argue that there is a need to frame a uniform gay marriage law internationally since there is no globally acknowledged appreciation of civil partnership as they vary extensively from one nation to another (Fantz)
What Promises have been offered by UK government for religious organisations as regards to solemnise the Gay Marriages?
The proposed new law on gay marriage in UK will not compel any religious institution or its ministers to conduct gay marriage ceremonies. This stand has been already buttressed under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and in a Strasbourg case law.
UK government has offered the following safeguard to the religious organisations which oppose the gay marriages which is known as “quadruple lock”;
- No individual minister or a religious organisation will be coerced to perform gay marriage or to allow this to happen in their buildings or churches.
- If the governing body of the religious organisations prefers to oppose the gay marriages, then such organisations will be excluded from organising gay marriages.
- UK government has promised that it would amend the provisions of the Equality Act of 2010 so that those religious organisations which oppose gay marriages will not be penalised if a complaint is made against them consisting in the fact that they are refusing to perform gay marriages.
- The proposed gay marriage act will specifically be illegal for Church of Wales and the Church of England to marry same-sex pairs.
Church of England vs UK Government
In England, the Church of England is a well recognised church and rules of church is hitherto are binding, so the government law should be in accordance with the Church’s law.
One of the rules of the Church highlights that marriage is nothing but union of one man with the one woman; the UK government pinpoints that there will not be any change in the above Church’s canon.
However, the Church of England is of the view that if the UK government transforms the meaning of marriage, then it would result in the status of the definition of marriage as set out by the church, which is union between one man and one woman.
Thus, it is being alleged by the religious circle that UK government is neglecting the effect of what is contemplated for the stand of the conventional Church.
It is alleged by the Church of England that if the gay marriage is legalised in UK, then it would result in the disestablishment of the Church (Smith & Callow).
What Various Surveys Found?
Various study conducted in UK, for instance, 2012 YouGov Survey, 2011 Angus Reid Public Opinion Survey, 2010 Scottish Social Attitude Survey, 2010 Angus Reid Survey, 2009 Populus poll survey and 2008 ICM Research poll survey have found that the majority of questionnaires were in favour of gay marriage.
One survey conducted by the Coalition for Marriage found that it had 600000 signatures which did not like gay marriages. Nonetheless, this finding is highly questionable as it was conducted by a religious organisation, and there is a possibility of single person to submit his/her signature multiple times (Wakefield).
What are unique features of the proposed UK law for Gay Marriage?
Equal Civil Marriage Consultation has received more than 228,000 replies, and many numbers of petitions in regards to gay marriages. Some important proposals from these responses are given below:
- It will facilitate lesbians to have a civil marriage ceremony;
- It will also authorise those religious institutions that wish to perform gay marriage ceremonies, which is purely on permissive basis only;
- It will offer legal safeguard to the religious institutions that would permit them to prolong to function unobstructed way well within their principles and faith as they follow now.
- It will facilitate the existing civil partnership of gay couples to legalise their partnerships if they desire to;
- It will facilitate individuals to change their legal gender without preventing them from getting married.
The UK government is of the view that allowing lesbian couples to access to marriage will make sure that marriage remains a vibrant and a relevant institution. Thus, it would fall under major reforms to be perused by UK government (Home office 2012a).
Out of the 228,000 responses, about 53% of responses have supported same-sex couples should be allowed to have a civil marriage ceremony whereas 43% respondents had not agreed with it.
Those who supported same sex couples civil marriage are of the opinion that such a right would permit the same –sex couples to ventilate their happiness and love in the analogues style as opposite sex couples and to permit them to get married, which is legally and socially viewed as a vibrant bond between the couple.
Unitarian Church is of the strong view that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people should be accorded the same marriage rights as an opposite sex. The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales is of the view that marriage is the biological balancing of female and male, where are children are born.
In gay marriages, there is no possibility of children, and hence it should be abandoned. Some responders were of the opinion that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be a drastic step as a whole; it is against equality (Home Office 2012b).
Currently in the UK, CPA is offering lesbian and gay couples the opportunity to receive analogues legal privileges as that of married couples if they select to register their union at a public civil ceremony.
Thus ,the registration under CPA offers pension and social security benefits, tenancy privileges , probable parental accountability for the kids of the partners, full acknowledgement of life assurance , accountability to offer reasonable maintenance allowance for homosexual partners and their kids, visiting rights in the hospitals and the analogues tax treatment that is being given to married couples.
From December 2011 onwards, civil partnerships can be taken place in religious places where the religious institutions has agreed for the same. However, the same sex couples as of date under UK laws are precluded from marriage (Home Office 2012d).
For same sex couples, marriages cannot be formed by law. Alternatively, as per current provision in the UK, same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership.
Though the civil partnership offers a matching legal setup to civil marriage many people are not happy with the prevalence of distinct legal provision and do not recognise them to be analogues or equal. As per a study carried over in Scotland it was suggested that only 6% of the survey respondents were happy with the present system.
Thus, it is essential that the government intervention is required since the obstacle to the same sex couple entering into marriage is a legal one. The proposed law in UK will permit one to have equal access to civil marriages for same-sex couples instead of civil partnership as is available now.
Further, the proposed law of UK government is also going to offer the rights to same-sex couples to form a union or perform marriage in a religious place in order to make sure that there is no brunt on the privileges of individuals to carry out their religious faiths and to permit the transsexuals to transform their gender legally without the requirement to cancel their present legal relationships (Home Office 2012c).
Fantz, Ashley. Proposal would Allow Same –Sex Marriage in England, Wales. 11 December 2012. Web.
Giddens, Anthony & Griffins, Simon. Sociology. London: Polity, 2006. Print.
Home Office (2012a). Equal Civil Marriage Consultation. Web.
Home Office (2012b). Equal Marriage: The Government’s Response, Web.
Home Office (2012c). Impact Assessment. Web.
Home Office (2012d). Equal Civil Marriage: A Consultation. Web.
Klesse, Chris. The Spectre of Promiscuity: Gay Marriage and Bi-sexual Non Monogamies. New Delhi: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2007. Print.
Smith, Peter & Simon Callow. Viewpoints on Same-sex Marriage Plans. 11 December 2012. Web.
Wakefield, J Albert. 31Arguments against Gay Marriage. Web.