The Home Office has today published the draft regulations to allow civil partnership registrations to take place in religious premises. The document summarises the responses received to the consultation process to which Changing Attitude contributed.
Lynne Featherstone, the Equalities Minister, confirmed regulations should be in place by the end of 2011. The document proposes the regulations will come into force on 5December and churches will be able to register early in 2012.
The report details the regulations needed to enforce the Equality Act 2010, which removed the prohibition on holding the ceremonies at churches, synagogues and other religious buildings.
While the Unitarian Church and the Quakers as well as Liberal and Reform Judaism said they would hold ceremonies for gay couples, the Catholic Church and Church of England said they would not.
Changing Attitude is campaigning for the Church of England to allow churches and clergy who wish to register civil partnerships to do so. We took our Civil Partnerships in Church NOW! campaign to General Synod in York last July with banners proclaiming our goal in no uncertain terms.
Many churches already conduct services to bless lesbian and gay couples following civil partnership ceremonies. Changing Attitude estimates that at least 10% of Church of England congregations would be open to affirm the faithful, loving relationships of same-sex couples by hosting civil partnerships and services of blessing.
The decision whether or not to allow Church of England churches to hold civil partnerships lies with General Synod and Changing Attitude will continue our campaign in the Church with urgency.
There is a connection to be drawn between the debacle at St Paul’s cathedral and the Church of England’s attitude to sexuality and LGB&T people. The rest of the country were shocked by the cathedral’s stance, closure of the building and threat to evict the protestors. These actions seemed to be clearly contrary to the teaching of Jesus.
I am constantly told that people don’t understand the church obsession with gay people. Jesus said nothing which condemned homosexuality but rather a lot about love, truth and justice. His actions repeatedly transgressed the law and confronted the prejudices of his age. Just as people perceive that Jesus would have been in the tents with the protestors, they see him as identifying with LGB&T people who have been subjected to intolerable abuse and injustice for centuries, injustice which is now perpetuated by the church.