Myths and Realities about Equal Marriage

20 May 2013 by

gay_marriage_cake_300The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is back before Parliament today for the “Report Stage”. The latest version of the Bill is here, updated explanatory notes here, and the full list of proposed amendments here. Predictably, the amendments are the focus of much controversy.

I have written a new article for the New Statesman on some of the myths and realities surrounding the debate – you can read it here. It’s all a bit complicated, as you might expect.

Our previous coverage is linked to below. Hopefully, party politics won’t end up derailing this important bill. As the New Yorker recently predicted:

One day, not long from now, it will be hard to remember what worried people so much about gay and lesbian couples committing themselves to marriage.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts:


  1. scott says:

    All gots createaure have the right to chose there own sex beliefs gays have just as much righs as anybody else weather bi, bi curious or homosexual regards scotty6070

  2. Christopher says:

    “It’s all a bit complicated” – complex? ;-) Surely Jon Holbrook hits the mark with “The Civil Partnership Act 2004 has met the legitimate desire of lesbians and gays for an institution comparable to marriage. As Baroness Deech, an expert in family law, has noted, civil partnerships differ in law from marriage in only two respects: they can only be civil, never religious, and adultery is not a ground for dissolution. The first difference is rarely cited as problematic, but in so far as there are churches that want to preside over civil partnerships that could be achieved with modest legislative reform. The second difference, adultery, is a difference that remains in the new Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill. So the minor legal differences between civil partnerships and marriage provide no basis for the government’s gay marriage legislation. To all intents and purposes, civil partnership affords lesbians and gays equal treatment.”
    I accept that the Civil Partnership Act provides no meaningful ceremony of mutual committment: the Act should be amended.
    This bill seems to me like a bill enacting that dromedaries will be called camels: you’d still have one species with two humps and one with one! Respect is not shown by just calling something that is different the same as something else..

    1. John Stacey-Hibbert says:

      This is absolutely correct. The cost of the Act will be in the multi-millions and the time involved is disproportionate to the need for the legislation – neither of which the country can afford in its present economic situation. The whole thing is a farce and totally unnecessary. This is not a question of equality or discrimination at all!

  3. Jon Holbrook says:

    In a Spiked article, Gay marriage and the tyranny of sameness, I have argued that equality is no longer a progressive demand but rather is used to demolish differences between people:

  4. Andrew says:

    Would it really, really hurt to allow existing Registrars of Marriage to say no? If not by a conscience clause then admininstratively? Islington sacked Ms Ladele, but other authorities found it possible so to allocate the work that nobody’s conscience was forced. Is that not preferable?

    After all: would you want to be married by a Registrar who, be s/he never so polite and professional, who thought you would roast in hell?

    Why is a Registrar’s conscience worth less than that of a member of the clergy?

    1. Steve H says:

      To take your reasoning to its logical, slippery slope, conclusions, one might have asked in the not so recent past why couldn’t Registrars (or Policemen) employed before the Race Relations Act refuse to perform inter-racial marriages, etc, or in Northern Ireland, why can’t staff who have religious objections to providing goods & services to Roman Catholics opt out of providing them if they were recruited when discrimination was the legally enforced norm (by Stormont)?

      Employees in public service are obliged to implement the law of the land as it evolves, a point reiterated in the past by the ECoHR. If you allow people to opt out ostensibly for religious reasons, then in the first instance the courts will have to decide what constitutes a legitimate religious belief, and secondly all public sector employees would have to become temporary employees or put on annual contracts, so that only those willing to obey the law would be employed. This is a litigants paradise. If you are employed to carry out civil marriage, you need to leave your ideological convictions at home. Civil is not religious. Why are those registrars who object to performing civil ceremonies for homosexual couples but not do so for divorcees deemed to be doing so for religious reasons? If the reasons are religious then marrying divorcees is no different, theologically, from marrying homosexuals. If you apply for a job performing civil marriage you must obey the law or work for a religious employer. This is of course iniquitous, but no less iniquitous that the fact that religious employers are allowed to discriminate against non-adherents (although the EU directive sets conditions the UK government have not met, and have yet to be challenged on).

      In my younger days it was legal for hotels to refuse to allow me to stay there on the grounds that I was a practicing Roman Catholic. We should not return to those days.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: