Consultation on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill

Abstract

The Scottish Government’s consultation on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill ended on 20 March 2013. In its submission, Ekklesia backed the proposal to to introduce same sex marriage and religious and belief registration of civil partnership - while emphasising that our overall preference would be to distinguish legal marriage as a civil provision from religious or belief blessings and recognition.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill ended on 20 March 2013. In its submission, Ekklesia backed the proposal to to introduce same sex marriage and religious and belief registration of civil partnership.

However, we emphasised that our preference would be to distinguish legal marriage offered by the state as a civil provision from religious or belief conferments: that is, to leave the matter of religious or humanist blessing, recognition and solemnisation of civil unions as a non-legal matter entirely beholden to voluntary associations outwith the state (that is, religious or belief groups with their own commitments, institutions and practices).

The draft Bill for Scotland includes clear protections so that religious and belief bodies cannot be compelled to take part, unless they choose to opt in. We agree with this. It also proposes general changes to marriage law, including, for example, civil ceremonies taking place anywhere (other than religious premises) and the establishment of 'belief' ceremonies (e.g. for humanists) as another way of getting married in Scotland, alongside civil and religious options.

The consultation also discusses issues in relation to freedom of speech, education and family law (adoption, fostering and fertilisation) as well as provision for trans and intersex persons.

Ekklesia's full response can be read here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/sgmarriageconsult.pdf