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Government publishes same sex marriage bill

The government has published its much discussed gay marriage bill.

The  will enable same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies and give religious organisations the freedom to conduct gay marriages if they wish to do so.

The bill will also allow people in existing civil partnerships to convert their partnerships into marriage. In addition, married individuals will be able to change their gender without having to end their marriage.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said:

“Marriage is a hugely important institution in this country – one which has changed throughout our history, and continues to change. The values of marriage bind families and communities together and bring stability. I believe that couples should not be excluded from marriage just because they love someone of the same sex. In opening up marriage to same-sex couples, we will further strengthen the importance of marriage in our society.”

The government is at pains to point that religious organisations will not be obliged to conduct same sex marriages.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport notes:

“Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to freedom of religion, and the Bill protects and promotes religious freedom through a ‘quadruple lock’.”

The consent of the individual minister or priest, the consent of the organisation’s governing body and the special registration will all be required. The new legislation would also amend the Equality Act 2010 so that refusing to conduct a same sex marriage would not be unlawful.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. DT says:

    Very interesting Marilyn.

    I have had a look at section 9 RE: conversion in the bill.

    How do you think this will happen? Would it be a new ceremony or a paper exercise following an application?

    I’m glad that although the civil partnership would end, the couple would have been deemed to have been married for the duration of the civil partnership.

    Let’s hope it happens.


  2. David Mortimer says:

    What have the government said about the fact that domestic violence between homosexual “couples” is higher then that between heterosexuals?

    How many gay couples will be restricted or barred all together from seeing their children after separation or divorce because of false allegations of domestic violence or child abuse made in the family courts?

    When are family court judges going to start referring cases of perjury to the police given the Lord Chief Justices ruling?

    “If a judge considers that the Police should pursue an investigation in respect of the commission of perjury by a witness or a party at a trail, the judge must make this clear in his judgment and make the necessary order so as to require the court to send the papers in the case to the Police or the appropriate authorities. If the judge does not make such a direction in the course of his judgment, then the Police can assume that there is no case of perjury to be investigated. However, should relevant evidence come to light, the aggrieved party may return to court to place the fact before a judge and/or appeal. It will then be open to that judge to give the aforementioned direction if appropriate”

    False allegations of domestic violence and child abuse are used in the family courts on a daily basis right across the country by resident parents (mothers in the vast majority of cases) to dictate the outcome of contact and residence applications with impunity.

    The family courts view separating couples as two legal components: the ‘resident parent’ and the ‘non-resident parent’ (who does not live with the child). Although these two legal concepts might sound similar they are treated completely differently in the family courts. The only legal right a non-resident parent has is they can apply to the courts for contact. They do not have any other significant or presumptive rights over their children.

    Most people believe they have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law if they were accused of domestic violence or child abuse given they are criminal offenses. However, this principle only applies in criminal trials which have to prove a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It does not apply in the family courts which are civil proceedings where the best interest test is applied to all decisions which are made on a balance of probability.

    Family court judges do not believe it would be in a child’s best interest to question what the resident parent has said (to see if it is true or not) because they claim do so would undermind their authority as the primary care giver. You might wonder how any decision could ever be reasonably considered as safe and in a child’s best interests if they do not check?

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