News that the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage will entail an appointment at a register office and not a marriage ceremony has outraged and disappointed Quaker couples.
Quakers in Britain welcomed the law passed last year enabling same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry and they eagerly anticipated the day when all Quaker marriages, of same-sex or opposite-sex couples, could be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded, recognised as legally valid and reported to the state in exactly the same way.
When the law came into force in March, the process of drafting secondary legislation left those already in civil partnerships out of the celebrations. Quakers took up their case with government ministers.
“This is more than a formality for those in civil partnerships,” said Quakers Recording Clerk, Paul Parker. “It is deeply unfair that Quaker couples are denied their opportunity to celebrate their long-term loving relationships in their worshipping community.” Instead, from 10 December 2014 there will be a civil process and they will be issued a “certificate of conversion” rather than a marriage certificate.
Draft government regulations laid in Parliament earlier this month will be debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday 29 July as The Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership) Regulations 2014 Statutory Instrument, introduced by Baroness Northover.