Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Government proposes amendments to Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Updated Wednesday

A number of amendments have been filed, in the name of Maria Miller, the chief sponsor of this bill.

See here or more conveniently for many as a PDF file here.

Also today, the Joint Committee on Human Rights took evidence from Maria Miller and also the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb. There is a video recording of that session here.

Update Wednesday

An updated consolidated list of amendments has been published, with many names of MPs added to some of them. See this PDF file here.

The amendments include a number of new clauses including provisions for:

- a referendum to be held before the bill can become law
- conscientious objection on religious grounds for all existing registrars
- religious schools under no obligation to promote a new definition of marriage
- those who hold traditional beliefs about marriage not to be discriminated against in various ways

One of the latter is the addition of these words to the Equality Act 2010:

The protected characteristic of religion or belief may include a belief regarding the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman

There are also amendments/new clauses from other MPs dealing with topics previously raised, such as provision for humanist marriage ceremonies, opening civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples, the repeal of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, etc.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at 9:32am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

Can anyone tell us what these amendments mean? Are they to give greater room for conscientious objectors to be excused from conducting such marriages?

Posted by: Anne Peat on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at 10:23am BST

I find the idea of enshrining opt outs from civil legislation in law quite dangerous. It's one thing to say that churches can do what they like within their own boundaries, but quite another that anyone in the public sphere should have the right to opt out of legislation just because they find it distasteful.
2 people getting married isn't on the same scale of moral dilemmas as abortion, after all.

The whole point of a parliamentary democracy is that laws are made that then apply to everyone.
Exceptions to this should only be allowed in truly exceptional cases.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at 11:05am BST

Not as far as I can tell. Most of these appear to be very detailed drafting corrections.
The first one does add an additional protection in relation to the Equality Act 2010, Section 110.
The second one gives the Church in Wales the change it requested, so that the Lord Chancellor can't reject a request from them to him for action.
And the third one amends the definition of ecclesiastical law used, and is I believe a change requested by the Church of England.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at 12:04pm BST

So the third amendment is basically a change in words? After in the Church, it's known as "Matrimony", LOL.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 at 4:07pm BST

Looks like the purpose of the Section 110 amendment I mentioned is explained here

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 at 10:19am BST

I'm with Erika. Give people legal protection to discriminate and they will carry on doing so. If I have a conscientious belief that white people are superior to black and that the "races" should be kept separate am I allowed to disallow black applicants from working in my white-owned business, or from staying in my white-owned hotel? No.

So no more discrimination on the kinds of grounds that the Equality Act covers. It is disgusting and uncivilised - and, to my mind, deeply unchristian.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 8:20am BST

Having watched the video of the proceedings at:

I was most impressed by Maria Miller's conduct in answering some pretty loaded questions from members of the Committee. The sort of pressure she is under from some rather oppositional MPs has been quite considerable and Ms Miller has behaved perfectly and most politely in all circumstances.

If I were personally wanting positive action on any matter in the Parliament, I would certainly want M.M. on my side. Well done!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 17 May 2013 at 6:15am BST
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