Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Greens vote for same-sex religious weddings

A press-release from Peter Tatchell:
End ban on religious civil partnerships, Greens urge

Current law forces churches to discriminate against gay couples

London – 23 February 2010

The Greens have become the first and and only political party to officially support an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship.

The new Green Party policy would allow gay-affirmative churches, such the Quakers, Unitarians and Metropolitan Community Church, to host civil partnership ceremonies for the first time. They are currently prohibited by law from hosting religious civil partnerships.

The vote at the Green Party’s Spring conference, which took place in London on the weekend, makes the Greens unique among British political parties. No other party has the same commitment to end this discrimination.

By a near unanimous vote, Green delegates voted to strike down the ban on religious civil partnerships.

The motion was proposed by human rights rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is also the Green Party’s human rights spokesperson. It was seconded by Darren Johnson, the openly gay Green member of the London Assembly and the Green parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford.

A copy of the motion agreed follows below.

The new policy will now be added to the Green Party’s Manifesto for a Sustainable Society.

“The State is denying, by force of law, the right of religious bodies to treat same-sex couples equally. It is forcing them to discriminate, even when they don't want to,” said Peter Tatchell.

"Gay-accepting churches, such the Quakers, Unitarians and the Metropolitan Community Church, want to conduct civil partnership ceremonies and should be allowed to do so.

"The ban on religious civil partnership ceremonies smacks of authoritarianism. This injustice was written into the Civil Partnership Act by the Labour government in 2004, in a bid to appease homophobic religious leaders. At the time, the government refused all requests to remove the prohibition on religious civil partnership ceremonies.

“The Greens are supporting Lord Alli’s bid to amend the Civil Partnership Act to allow faith organisations to decide for themselves whether they want to offer religious civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

“If the law is amended, we expect that gay-affirmative denominations will agree to host civil partnerships. Some individual Anglican churches, and some liberal synagogues, are likely to follow suit.

“I may disagree with religion and want a separation of religion from the state, but I still object to religious same-sex couples being denied the option of having a civil partnership in their place of worship. If that is what they want, it is up to them. Exclusions based on faith or sexuality are wrong.

"The Unitarians are hosting a conference on marriage equality in London this coming weekend, where I will outline new campaigns to challenge the bans on same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. The aim is full equality for homosexual and heterosexual couples," said Mr Tatchell.

Green Party conference motion RR507 (passed)

“The Green Party supports an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship, whilst recognising it is up to religious bodies to make this decision and not for the state to dictate to them prohibitions on civil partnerships.”

Pagans also want to do same-sex legal weddings. However, Pagan opposite-sex weddings are only legal in Scotland, but they are not allowed to do same-sex legal weddings there. Hopefully if this is sorted out, at least LGBT Scottish Pagan couples can have legal weddings, even if neither opposite-sex nor same-sex English Pagan couples can.

Liberal Jews also offer same-sex blessings in synagogues.

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