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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Marriage is a Religious Act

Last night's vote in the House of Commons to approve the Same Sex Marriage Bill by 366 to 161, a majority of 205 votes, represented another significant step forward to marriage equality. The Bill now goes to the House of Lords where further opposition is expected. Supporters of the change must not "rest on their laurels".

I was pleased to join Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Movement for Reform Judaism and Paul Parker of the Quakers in Britain, in sending this short letter to The Guardian which was published last evening:

"At the time of the Commons debate on equal marriage and as the bill passes to the House of Lords, we, as faith groups, wish to reiterate our commitment to same-sex marriage. For us, the Movement for Reform Judaism, Quakers in Britain and the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, marriage is not a mere civil contract, but a religious act. While we don't seek to impose this on anyone, for us this is a matter of religious freedom. We ask that any legislation will ensure we are free to conduct same-sex marriage in our places of worship."

With all the controversy within and between political parties I hope that this conviction is not lost in the debates. Marriage is a religious act and we wish to offer the same opportunities for same sex couples as well as heterosexual couples to celebrate their relationship before and with their religious community and to have it legally recognised. We have been criticised for being small in number; but our history should teach us that size should not determine issues of justice.