The Religious Society of Friends in Britain, generally known as the Quakers, say they are “delighted” by today’s announcement that the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales can take place from 29 March 2014.
“This gives true recognition to the value of all human relationships,” said Paul Parker, recording clerk of Quakers in Britain. “Quakers see God in everyone and that led us to work for this change in the law so that all couples, of the same and opposite sex, may marry within our worshipping communities in England and Wales.”
Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, said: “This is just another step in the evolution of marriage, it is one of our most important institutions, and from March it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same or opposite sex.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “This is the news many couples have been waiting for. After a long and important battle, this is a wonderful step forward for equality. Love is the same, gay or straight, so it’s only right that the civil institution should be the same. Next March will be a real moment for celebration as same sex couples finally get the chance to express their love through marriage.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted to say: “Fantastic news that from 29 March next year you will be able to marry the person you love regardless of gender.”
In 1753 Quakers were given the right to conduct marriages in England and Wales, but case law before that recognised the validity of Quaker marriages.
Around 23,000 people attend nearly 475 Quaker meetings in Britain.
Weddings taking place from March will be the first same-sex unions in the UK to take places within religious organisations.
Liberal and Reform synagogues will solemnise same-sex marriages for the first time next year, as well as Quakers and Unitarian churches have also said they will perform the ceremonies.
However, both the Catholic Church and Church of England say they will not be marrying same-sex couples.