Current Affairs

Lib Dem MP tables same-sex marriage bill amendment separating state and religious marriages

April 6, 2013
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Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for North Leeds, has tabled an amendment to the UK’s same-sex marriage bill proposing a complete separation of state marriage and religious weddings.

According to the Evening Standard, the amendment tabled by Mr Mulholland would repeal the 1949 Marriage Act and the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act, remove clauses in the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act for the ending of marriages on the grounds of adultery or non-consummation, and would ban religious ceremonies from state marriages carried out by civil rgistrars.

The amendment will face intense opposition from MPs. However, Mr Mulholland argues that separating state and religious marriage is the only way to ensure equality and freedom of religion.

“The Marriage Bill neither delivers equal marriage nor adequately protects freedom of conscience,” he said.

“The way to deliver both is a proper separation of civil and religious marriage, so it is clear that civil recognition of relationships is a matter for the state, defined in law, and this should be the same for all couples, but at the same time then allowing belief-based organisations to marry whoever they want according to what they believe marriage to mean.

“This is the liberal and the fair approach, but also the commonsensical one that would deliver equality and tolerance and would avoid some of the pitfalls of the Bill as drafted.”

Mr Mulholland was one of seven Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain from voting on the same-sex marriage bill in February.

Four voted against the bill, including former Education Minister Sarah Teather, who called it “one of the most difficult decisions” of her career.

The bill will go to a third reading in the House of Commons in the near future, before proceeding to the House of Lords.

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