Quakers in Britain have responded to the Government Equalities Office Consultation on equal marriage calling for the proposals to go further to allow same-sex couples to marry in religious premises.
Commenting on the Consultation, Quaker Recording Clerk Paul Parker said: “Quakers in Britain have recognised same-sex marriages since 2009; we are just waiting for them to be recognised in law.
“We give our full support to equal marriage. However, the new proposals still deprive same-sex couples of being married in a religious ceremony on religious premises. They will be allowed a civil partnership, but that is not a marriage, it is a legal contract, but not a spiritual one. That’s why we are seeking a change in the law, so a same-sex marriage can be celebrated within the couple’s worshipping community.
“We don’t seek to impose this on anyone else. For Quakers this is an issue of religious freedom.”
The consultation asked, ‘Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?’ Quakers in Britain responded: “Quakers consider that life-long committed relationships between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, should be celebrated in exactly the same way as the marriage of opposite sex couples. To us, marriage is a celebration of the committed relationship of two people who have found love for each other. Our testimony to equality demands that it should be available for all committed couples who seek it.”
In the submission to the consultation Quakers also said: “The principles of integrity, equality and religious liberty have always been at the heart of our faith so Quakers welcome the broad proposal for same-sex marriage which we think is a courageous step towards full equality for those seeking recognition of their partnerships. However, we can see no reason, religious or otherwise, why marriage and civil partnership should not be equally available to all our couples who wish to register their commitment in Quaker meeting houses.
“We do not wish to see our own discernment of what is right imposed on those of other religious faiths which are not yet ready to take this step. We seek a permissive law which allows religious freedom, which allows the possibility of same-sex couples marrying within a religious context if that is what both they and their religious communities wish, while not putting anyone in a position where they have to act against their conscience.”