The UK’s marriage laws are outdated and need to be changed, liberal religious thinktank Ekklesia has said.
A statement from Ekklesia claimed that Parliament should change civil marriage law in response to the growing diversity of relationships and beliefs, to distinguish state recognition of relationships from religiously-based ceremonies and commitments.
Its comments came after another legal challenge from the Equal Love Campaign, where four same-sex couples have applied for marriage and four mixed-sex couples have applied for civil partnerships.
All of the couples have been refused, so they are taking their challenge to the European Court of Human Rights. A statement from Ekklesia said that there were other anomalies in UK marriage laws, such as the different rights accorded to various religious groups to carry out marriage and partnership ceremonies.
The think-tank said that people should be free to choose what kind of ceremony they require, religious or otherwise. They should also be free to register their relationship in law, according to the commitment into which they are entering.
Symon Hill, associate director of Ekklesia, said, ‘An overhaul of the current law in this area is needed to respond to the diversity of beliefs and relationships in a plural society.
‘People should be able to enter into marriages or partnerships as a public, communal, and – if important to them – a religious commitment, with legal registration being a separate process’.
The Equality Act allows religious elements in same-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales for the first time. Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has met with religious groups to discuss how this change will work, as it may result in some Christian churches being hauled over the coals for ‘discrimination’ if they refuse to conduct a religious ceremony against their principles.
Such calls by Ekklesia in the name of tolerance and ‘diversity’ are in opposition to God’s pattern for heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman, set out in Genesis 2.