Religious organisations should be free to offer religious lesbian and gay weddings
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, has called for the law to allow religious wedding ceremonies to be held in religious buildings, as long as that religious organisation wants to offer this.
“No one is proposing that churches should be obliged to hold same sex marriage. Freedom of religion is an important part of British society and religious marriages will continue – as they have always – to be a matter for each church and denomination, and not for the Government. The logic of respecting religious freedom and choice is that it should also be possible for those churches and synagogues that want to support gay marriage to be able to do so too.
Respect for religious freedom means that we should respect the choice of Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal and Reform Jews and others to support same sex marriage. And it should be possible for other religious groups to change their view over time too, as I hope and suspect many eventually will, without going back to Parliament for permission.
Yet, at the moment, Theresa May has ruled out allowing any church or synagogue to conduct a same sex marriage, even if they believe it is the right thing to do.”
Manchester’s Unitarian Chapel first UK religious building licenced for civil partnerships
Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester city centre, close to the Town Hall, now has a licence from Manchester City Council to hold civil partnerships on its premises. The General Register Office says this is the first religious building in the UK to have one of these licences.
The chapel said they would also be the first to allow gay and lesbian couples to hold a religious ceremony on religious premises, with the civil ceremony taking place before or afterwards.
The Revd Jane Barraclough, minister of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this service to the LGBT community, which we consider a basic human right.bWe note with sadness the history of homophobia in many faith traditions as well as the current hateful language from some faith leaders that has received so much coverage in the media. But this is a time of great celebration for us, not sadness.”
Revd Barraclough said the Chapel was hoping to hold a “significant number” of civil partnerships as the only religious premises in Manchester with the necessary licence.
Unitarians have also long called for equal marriage rights for gays and were amongst the earliest to train women clergy. In 1977 it was formally resolved that Unitarian ministry be open to all, regardless of sex, race, colour or sexual orientation, since when there continue to be a number of openly LGBT ministers serving the denomination.
Cross Street Chapel is celebrating the 350th year of its congregation first meeting this year. The Chapel and local Unitarians have long been at the heart of Manchester’s radical traditions. Unitarians have been calling for for equal marriage rights for lesbians and gays men for many years and were amongst the earliest to train women clergy. In 1977 Unitarian ministry was opened to all, regardless of sex, race, colour, or sexual orientation, since when there continue to be openly LGBT Unitarian ministers.
Gay Marriage makes all gay and bisexual men healthier
A US study of the effect of equal marriage rights claims gay and bisexual men lead healthier lives when those rights are introduced, even when men are single.
The report looked at medical data from the year before and the year after the State of Massachusetts introduced equal marriage laws in 2003. They found doctors appointments, mental health care appointments and mental health care costs all fell by about 14%.
“These findings suggest that marriage equality may produce broad public health benefits by reducing the occurrence of stress-related health conditions in gay and bisexual men.” said study author Mark L Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University.
More at the Science Blog of Columbia University
and from the gay Catholic Priests blog
- Quakers call for equal marriage in address to the Queen (queeringthechurch.com)
- Manchester chapel holds civil partnerships (guardian.co.uk)
- Manchester minister says critics of gay marriage law ‘give religion a bad name’ (menmedia.co.uk)