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Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages in the UK

2011: Movement to make civil marriages (not
religious marriage) available to all couples

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This is a continuation of an earlier discussion for the year 2011

In this web site, the term "SSM" means "same-sex marriage,
We prefer this term to "gay marriage" because it is more inclusive.
Most loving committed same-sex couples consist of two lesbians or two gays.
However, a minority consist of a gay or lesbian plus a bisexual, or even two bisexuals.

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2009 to 2011: Public support for same-sex marriage (SSM) in the UK:

Most UK adults support SSM, The percentage is steadily growing as it is in the U.S., Canada, and other predominately Christian countries. According to

"A 2004 poll by Gallup reported that 52% agreed that 'marriages between homosexuals' should be recognized while 45% said they should not. Support for same-sex marriage among British respondents was 1% higher than Canadians who were asked and 17% higher than Americans. ..."

"An opinion poll conducted in June 2009 by Populus for The Times reported 61% of the British public agreed with the statement 'Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships', while 33% disagreed. Support was highest among those aged between 25 and 34 where 78% agreed and 19% disagreed. It was lowest amongst those over 65 where 37% agreed and 52% disagreed. A majority of both men and women agreed but support was higher among women (67%) than men (55%). On voting intention, 73% Liberal Democrats, 64% Labour voters and 53% Conservatives agreed that gay couples should have the right to marry.

A poll conducted by Angus Reid in July 2010 showed that 78% of people supported either same-sex marriage or civil union for gay couples, with 41% opting for same-sex marriage and 37% opting for civil union. The percentage of people who supported no legal unions for gay couples decreased by 3 persentage points since August 2009.

According to the 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 61 per cent of Scotland's population supports same-sex marriage. Just 19 per cent said they disagreed, while 18 per cent said they neither agreed nor disagreed. In a similar poll in 2002, 42% of Scotland's population supported same-sex marriage. In 2006, 53% of Scots backed same-sex marriage.

In July 2011, a representative survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion showed that 43 per cent of Britons believe same-sex couples in the UK should be allowed to legally marry, 34 per cent think same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil partnerships, but not marry, and 15 per cent would grant no legal recognition to same-sex couples." 1

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2006 to 2010: Support for same-sex marriage (SSM) among Parliamentary leaders:

According to Wikipedia, in the United Kingdom (UK):

"The Conservative Party is a center-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House of Commons with 307 seats. It governs in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, with party leader David Cameron as Prime Minister." 2

On social matters, Prime Minister Cameron is generally regarded as significantly more liberal than his party. During 2006, during the keynote speech at his first party conference after having won the leadership of the party, he said that the party should back same-sex marriage. He said that there is something about marriage that is not just about religion or morality but also about:

"...the two of us together, and that really matters. ... And by the way, I think it matters, and I think it means something, whether you are [in a relationship between] a man or a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. I am proud that we supported civil partnerships." 3

The delegates responded with almost 20 seconds of enthusiastic applause.

During 2010-FEB, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said in a statement:

"... I support gay marriage. Love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same, too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another." 4

Support for same-sex marriage appears to extend only to civil marriage, and would not include religious marriages.

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2011-SEP-17: Equalities minister announces same-sex marriage policy at party conference:

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone told the Liberal Democrat party conference that the current system of civil partnerships for same-sex partners and marriage for opposite-sex partners is not fair.

She said:

"We are a world leader for gay rights, but as this conference made clear last year with your call for equal marriage, there is still more that we must do. That is why I am delighted to announce today that in [2012] March, this Government will begin a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same sex couples. ... this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this parliament."

“Civil partnerships were a welcome first step. But as our constitution states, this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms. And I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another is not only discrimination, but is not fair. Conference, this is a Liberal Democrat policy – but now it is a policy being put into action." 5

The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia reported:

"Gay rights groups argue that maintaining a separation between marriage and civil partnerships perpetuates the notion that same-sex relationships are not as valid as those involving heterosexual couples.

Although activists welcomed the new proposals, they questioned the delay in the consultation until [2012-] March.

Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "I am not convinced that there needs to be any consultation at all. The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be repealed." 6

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Opposition from the Roman Catholic Church expected:

The Scottish National Parliament (SNP) announced earlier in 2011-SEP that a consultation would occur in that country on same-sex marriage. This resulted in an objection by Roman Catholic Cardinal O'Brien. On 2011-SEP-07 he said:

"The view of the church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature. The family and marriage existed before the state and are built on the union between a man and woman. ... Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed." 7

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2011-NOV: UK to allow civil partnership in churches:

When legislation was passed to legalize civil partnerships in 1994, the law contained a stipulation that the ceremonies could not be held in religious locations. Reform Jews, Quakers, Unitarians and other liberal/progressive faith groups objected and lobbied to hold ceremonies with religious readings and hymns in their buildings.

Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, announced in parliament on 2011-NOV-02 that the restriction would be lifted in England and Wales. Faith groups would still have the right to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to hold civil partnership ceremonies. She said:

"The government is advancing equality for LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths. No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward."

The state church, the Church of England, plans to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples. Spokesperson, Steve Jenkins, said:

"The House of Bishops' statement of July 2005 made it clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessings for those who register civil partnerships and that remains the position. The Church of England has no intention of allowing civil partnerships to be registered in its churches." 8

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Discussion on this topic continues in 2012-MAR...

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom," Wikipedia, as of 2011-SEP-18, at:
  2. "Conservative Party (UK)," Wikipedia, as at 2011-SEP-14, at:
  3. Tony Grew, "Cameron highlights importance of gay unions," Pink News, 2006-SEP-04, at:
  4. Jessica Geen, "Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg answers your questions." Pink News, 2010-FEB-16, at:
  5. Jessica Geen, "Government proposes introduction of full gay marriage after Cameron intervention," Pink News, 2011-SEP-16, at:
  6. Jessica Geen, "Scottish Catholic leader attacks gay marriage," Pink News, 2011-SEP-08, at:
  7. "UK plans to introduce same-sex marriage," The Age, 2011-SEP-18, at:
  8. Trevor Grundy, "UK to allow religious gay partnership ceremonies," Anglican Journal, 2011-NOV-02, at:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > UK > here

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-SEP-18
Latest update: 2011-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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