The Home Office has today launched the much talked about Equal Civil Marriage Consultation which sets out the government’s proposals to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage.

The key proposals the government will be looking at are:

  • to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage i.e. only civil ceremonies in a register office or approved premises (like a hotel)
  • to make no changes to religious marriages. This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman
  • to retain civil partnerships for same-sex couples and allow couples already in a civil partnership to convert this into a marriage
  • civil partnership registrations on religious premises will continue as is currently possible i.e. on a voluntary basis for faith groups and with no religious content
  • individuals will, for the first time, be able legally to change their gender without having to end their marriage

At the moment, the law allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership but not a civil marriage. In reality, what is the difference? Our dual system reeks of apartheid and really does nothing to offer a meaningful explanation for the divide. Well, that’s how we feel, but you can have your say by filling out the consultation.

For anyone interested in sharing their views with the Home Office, you can access the consultation here.

And you can complete the online form (the part with the questions to answer), here.

Cartoon drawn by Steve Bell, courtesy of the Guardian Newspaper.