As the first same-sex marriages take place in England and Wales this weekend, (29 March) Quakers in Britain are rejoicing with one Quaker couple whose marriage in Canada is now legally recognised here.
“We’re thrilled that marriage for same-sex couples is here at last,” say Rob and Owen Claxton-Ingham. They married in Canada because they couldn’t marry in Britain. They met in 1992 at a gathering for young Quakers and ten years later they adopted two children, Mark and Rebecca. They married in Canada in 2006 and live in Yorkshire. For them, marriage is a spiritual and emotional experience. “It was important for us to make that commitment within an act of worship,” reflects Rob.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said many Quakers have been longing for this day which marks a real step forward in equality. “Quakers see God in everyone and that leads us to say we’re all born equal and our love is of equal worth too.”
“Quakers have been discussing sexuality for fifty years,” he said. “That led our Yearly Meeting in 2009 to seek a change in the law so that same-sex marriages can be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, reported to the state, and recognised as legally valid, without further process, in the same way as opposite-sex marriages are celebrated in Quaker meetings. We are delighted the law has caught up.”
However, celebrations are on hold for some couples. “While looking forward to marrying same-sex couples in our meeting houses this summer, we keep in mind those couples who must wait for secondary legislation to come in before they can convert their civil partnerships to marriage,” said Paul Parker.
Quakers in Britain have taken up their case with Government ministers, who say they hope legislation will be in place by the end of this year.