Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pagan weddings

While we're on the subject of marriage, I would like to see Pagan weddings given legal recognition in England and Wales, and in the USA.

Pagan handfastings already have legal recognition in Scotland.

In 2007, a woman named Cassandra M set up a petition on the Prime Minister's petitions website to make handfasting legal (now closed). The response was that they had reviewed the Marriage Act previously but were unable to come up with anything sensible so it was dropped. Furthermore, they said,
Traditional Pagan ceremonies are held in the open air. All outdoor ceremonies in the UK need an additional legal ceremony for the marriage to be recognised by law.
Well, Pagan ceremonies don't have to be held in the open air - even if we don't own many buildings, we can always hire them. Perhaps we need to re-open this issue with a slightly different wording of the petition.

I wonder if Hindu, Muslim and Sikh weddings are legally recognised under the current provisions for "Marriage solemnized in a registered building without the presence of a registrar, by the authorised person in whose presence the marriage is solemnized" which seems somewhat ambiguous - can Hindu, Muslim and Sikh celebrants be an "authorised person"? Why couldn't a Pagan become an "authorised person"?

Also, both Pagans and Unitarians would like the right to perform same-sex weddings.


Anonymous said...

And, I hope, for marriages of more than two people?

Yewtree said...

Oops sorry, yes, that too - I did include polyamory in a previous post on this topic (which I now cannot find).

But I'd definitely be up for performing a polyamorous handfasting, legal or not.

Chas S. Clifton said...

You have to understand that in the United States, marriages are a state issue.

A Pagan handfasting between a heterosexual couple can be perfectly legal in Colorado, for instance, as long as the paperwork is filled out and filed with the county clerk.

I know, I had one years and years ago. And I have performed three.

Other permutations will take longer, but in the states permitting same-sex marriage, one would merely have to ask what the law says about who must officiate at such.

Yewtree said...

Thanks Chas - I'd got that with regard to same-sex weddings, should have figured out it was the same for Pagan ones.

Makarios said...

Outdoor ceremonies (in the UK) need an additional ceremony for the marriage to be recognised by law? I didn't know that. Is there some reason for this quaint requirement, other than accident of history?

Also, upon searching the Web, I see that there are sports stadia that are licensed as "approved premises" for the solemnization of marriages in the U.K. Would a football field be considered "indoors" in any sense other than a purely technical one?

I sometimes think that Beadle Bumble was correct in his characterization of the law.

Yewtree said...

I think it was felt to be "undignified" to marry out of doors.

Yes, the Law is an Ass.

Makarios said...

Just came across this item about the Australian scene that might be of some interest.

Yewtree said...


Yvonne Rathbone said...

I think it was felt to be "undignified" to marry out of doors.Not if it's done on the pitch, surely.

In the US, there's always a civil option. Get the legal part done at court and the religious part done however you want. Personally, I think that's the way it should be for everyone.

Yewtree said...

Yes we have a civil option too, but it makes it more expensive; I would like the signing of the register to be incorporated into the handfasting.

Syren said...

People are people - look closer.
I think there is a deeper issue here for me. Am I my body? Am I even the ideology I chose to live by? I think there is a whole lot more than merely the biosuit I walk around in and my "story". Surely underneath all that I am a person and if I love another person and want to commit to them what does the gender of our biosuits matter or the structure of the ceremony or who performs it? Provided I'm not harming anyone else - who cares?
I'm just get off my hobby horse now. ;)

Yewtree said...

@Syren: amen to that.