Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that there will be a change in the proposed legislation on same-sex marriage following consultation earlier this year.
The original proposals sought to make a distinction between ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ marriage by insisting that same-sex marriages would not take place in religious buildings.
But ahead of the revised proposals expected to be published later this week, the Prime Minister has indicated that churches will be allowed to celebrate same-sex marriages if they want to, while promising that no church or religious venue will be forced to do so.
The change of heart has undoubtedly come as a result of the church objecting to this new division between civil and religious marriage, and the lobbying of LGB&T groups who argued that to exclude churches from offering same-sex marriage would simply repeat the same mistake that accompanied the introduction of Civil Partnerships (an exclusion which was later reversed by the House of Lords).
The news has been welcomed by many pro-LGBT Christian groups, but the Church of England has issued a press release reaffirming its opposition to same-sex marriage. Only in the very last paragraph does it welcome the change of heart on dividing civil from religious marriage saying, “We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government’s earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage.”
The proposed legislation is expected to come before Parliament next year.