Action on Equal Marriage

Inclusive Church Members - write to your MP

IC logoInclusive Church members are encouraged to write to their MPs as soon as possible to invite them to support the government proposals on equal marriage, and also to alert them to the need for a critical review of the so-called quadruple locks which are designed to protect those religious organisations that choose not to opt in.

We strongly support the proposed legislation and we look forward to its implementation, but we are concerned that this should accurately reflect the will of Parliament and of the people and that it does not unduly defer to a minority group.

It is important to write to your MP now and a further push may be needed at the end of February.

We are not providing a standard letter for you to copy, as this type of standard letter can be detrimental to a campaign. However, we invite you to highlight the following points in your own letter:

  • That you are a member of the Church of England, or another religious body;
     
  • That you give the name of the particular organisation which you belong to and; in addition, that you state (where appropriate) that this organisation is affiliated to the LGB&T Anglican Coalition.

Your letter should say that:

You welcome the government proposals on equal marriage* published on 11 December 2012, in particular that:

  • religious bodies are allowed to opt in voluntarily
     
  • no religious body or individual is compelled to act against conscience
     
  • married transgender people who apply for full gender recognition will no longer have to dissolve their marriages

That you appreciate the value of same-sex partnerships – perhaps giving examples, though without naming names – and how you believe the legislation will benefit such couples.

That the Church of England’s official submission to the consultation on equal marriage does not reflect your own views, and the views of many others within the Church of England, in favour of equal marriage in church.

That the Church of England and the Church in Wales should be as free to opt in to the provisions of this legislation as any other religious body

That the additional legal exemptions would obstruct the Church in Wales, and might inhibit the Church of England, from opting in, which would, in turn, compromise your own religious freedom, and the religious freedom of others in these churches who, like yourself, are in favour of equal marriage.

You might also wish to note that while the Church of England as the Established Church can instigate primary legislation through the actions of its synod before it is placed before parliament; this option is not available to any church which is not an Established Church. Therefore the Church in Wales would legally be unable to opt in, even if it decided it wanted to, until after Parliament had changed the law and this is an outcome which hardly anybody wants.

Additionally, you may wish to invite your MP to table one (or more) of the Parliamentary questions, which ask the government to confirm the following, as listed below:

  1. That the established nature of the Church of England, and the unique relationship between its General Synod and Parliament, is taken into account in ways which do not reduce its freedom either to maintain the status quo or to opt in if it so chooses
     
  2. That any current legal requirement for the Church of England and Church in Wales to marry all parishioners (with some exceptions), will not be extended to include to a legal requirement to also marry same-sex couples except with the agreement of the respective churches.
     
  3. That if the Church of England and Church in Wales decide through their own synodical processes to offer marriage on an equal basis then, as with heterosexual marriage, their obligation to marry all couples shall also be implemented in law to include the marriage of all same sex couples, with the provision that those clergy who do not wish to conduct such services shall not be obliged to do so
     
  4. That individual Anglican clergy should not be subject in law to any greater civil or criminal legal penalties than the clergy of any other religious group which chooses as a group not to opt-in to equal marriage, regardless of whether they refuse or agree to officiate at such a ceremony.
     
  5. That marriages will no longer have to end if one partner undergoes gender reassignment and wishes to obtain full gender recognition; and also that this provision will be made retrospective to include all those who have previously married and who are still living in the same married relationship, at the date of enactment of the proposed legislation.
     
  6. That, as at present, religious organisations will be able, if they so choose, to bless, give thanks for, pray or meditate with couples who have been, or are about to be, married, but that this will not in itself constitute legally valid marriage

Please include the LGB&T Anglican Coalition website address:  www.lgbtac.org.uk in your letter and indicate that further information, including the statements which the Coalition has made on Equal Marriage are available on the website.

If you have had any personal experiences which are relevant to these issues, or you can confirm those of others who you personally know, please describe them in your letter.

Tina Beardsley, Susan Gilchrist, Elaine Sommers

Co Chairs LGB&T Anglican Coalition

* The equal marriage proposals are published at http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/9584.aspx

and there is additional information at http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/media_releases/9585.aspx

and also at http://blogs.culture.gov.uk/main/2012/12/equal_marriage_and_the_church.html

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