Gay marriages are a controversial issue. The Government has finally taken the plunge with David Cameron pledging that he wants to recognise Gay Marriages. The Consultation process has begun and David Camerons plans have been met head on with a strong decision made by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg clearly indicating that a Gay marriages are not a Human Right.
So where does the decision of the European Court of Human Rights leave the consultation in the United Kingdom? Should the law be used to change the definition of marraiges and thereby regulate faiths and religious opinions? Should religious places of worship be allowed to refuse to marry two people of the same sex? And should those that wish to allow such a marraige be permitted to do so? Religion does not dictate the community that we live in and people make a choice whether too accept a religion or not. With that religion there are certain beliefs and traditional faiths do not support same sex marriages. Many individuals may accept their faith and not agree that their faiths should discriminate this way against same sex marraiges but it does. It is not the place of the Law or Politics to enforce anything upon a religion or faith and the law cannot regulate faiths and compel them to support same sex marriages and force religious leaders to allow them to take place in their place of worship. Religious beliefs cannot be regulated in this way and it would be wrong for the law to become involved in something as emotional as religion and issues of faith.
But then there may be those religious leaders and places of worship that want to allow two people of the same sex to marry and they will pose the question of whether they should be allowed the freedom to do this.
I for one applauded the Civil Partnerships which recognised and gave status to many same sex relationships, but I appreciate the position that many religious leaders are preaperd to fight for the traditional view of marraige.
The Government plans to make progress with the issue of same sex marriage by the next general election in 2015. Many MPs have the view that the politicians should not be able to redefine the traditional view of a marriage which is between a man and a woman. They maintain that a political definition changing what society sees as a marriage to include reference to recognition of same sex marriages undermines the traditional family unit. The social impact of this should not be under estimated. Many countries have changed the reference to mother and father on birth certificate since same sex marriages have been recognized in their countries. The recognition would have a knock on effect in society and it is unacceptable to some that same sex relationships should be given the same recognition as that of a marriag between a man and a woman. Many religious leaders and MPs will say that same sex relationships undermine the traditional family unit.
Although those in same sex relationships will say that they do not seek to change the definition of marriage, this is a definition that would need to be changed. A marriage is recognised and defined in English Law as the ” union of one man with one woman, voluntarily for life, to the exclusion of all others.” The definition refers to a woman and a man and religions reflect this. If marriage was to be recognised in same sex couples this definition would need to be altered to take account of this. This change would have an impact on those religions that then refused to offer marriage in this way to same sex couples. Is it the place of the law to enforce social changes upon religions which hold many orthodox beliefs and opinions and have done so without interference for thousands of years?
However, how does this effect those that are in same sex relationships? How do they feel about not being able to have a religious service? Some same sex couples that feel that as their relationship is not given the same status as a marraige they are almost treated as second class citizens. Some may have religious beliefs although they are in a same sex relationship. Is this is matter for law or an internal emotional struggle for those that have chosen this way of life to seek justification from society and have their relationship recognised.
Social change occurs all the time. Previously it was frowned upon if women had children out of wedlock. Some religions condemn such children and mothers. However, many family units today are made up of unmarried couples and single mothers with children. However, the law has taken no steps to ensure that religions accept this into their fold and give it their blessing. So why is same sex marriage any different?
A same sex relationship is a choice and a way of life that suits many people throughout the UK. However, such social changes and acceptance of such relationships has come a long way since being attracted to the same sex was considred socially unacceptable. There is a higher level of acceptance of same sex relationships in society as a whole now than there was 25 years ago. Changes happen over a long period of time and it is clear that the law cannot and should not enforce social change and impose this upon society.
It may be an issue that need to be addressed in the future but is it the right time to address this now? Or is this an attempt by the Government to be seen as something more than the one that is solely responsible for the reduction of deficit. Would this issue enure that they receive more votes form the same sex relationship communities and support groups?
At this stage it is clear that many religious leaders are oposed to the idea of same sex marraiges and prepared to fight for the traditional union of marraige between a man and a woman. It may be that politics and religion meet head on to address this issue but anyone that takes on a religion and challenges faith may find they are fighting with both hands tied behind their backs.
If you are thinking of entering into a Civil Partnership or are having difficulties in your relationship there are a number of options available to you, if you are yet to enter into a civil marriage you an take steps to protect your financial positions before you enter into this relationship. If you wish to discuss matters further in confidence, please call Leeds Family Law on 0113 3944145.