Representatives of Quakers in Britain, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism have written to leaders of the three main parties in the House of Lords urging them to reject a challenge to the regulations bringing into effect civil partnerships being celebrated on religious premises.
The three faith groups have campaigned for and welcomed the opportunity to register premises for civil partnerships.
The Equality Act 2010 included a section that allowed civil partnerships to be held on religious premises in England and Wales, if a faith group wishes. Draft regulations came into effect on 5 December 2011. The House of Lords will debate Baroness O’Cathain’s attempt to revoke the regulations to allow civil partnerships registration on Thursday 15 December
The full text of the letter reads:“We are writing as leaders of three faith communities to urge your support for the Regulations implementing the registration of Civil Partnerships in religious premises when this matter is debated in the House of Lords on 15 December 2011.
“Liberal Judaism, Quakers in Britain and the Unitarians and Free Christians have indicated that they would wish to take up the opportunities offered by the legislation which was passed with support from all parties. We recognise fully the rights of those who did not wish to do so and are clear that the legislation protects the freedom to say no as well as yes. We do not believe the state should force churches or faith communities to act against their sincerely held beliefs; however, we claim the same right in accord with our own deeply held views of equality and justice.
“Our wish to undertake civil partnerships registration in a religious context reflects our shared commitment to the inherent worth of each individual and our respect for loving relationships between people of the same sex.
“There has been growing acceptance in England and Wales of a broader view of what family means, reflecting the increasingly varied pattern of relationships, including same sex couples. Faith communities like our own have similarly embraced this diversity. We were pleased that Parliament recognised this when it approved civil partnership registration in religious premises. We look forward to putting in place this legislation.”
The letter was signed by Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, Derek McAuley, Chief Officer for General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches and Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism.