The MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy has joined Labour’s campaign to ensure equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Labour strongly believes that gay and lesbian couples should have an equal right to marry and deserve the same recognition from the state and society as anyone else. Couples who love each other and want to make a long-term commitment to each other should be able to marry, regardless of their gender or their sexuality.
The campaign comes in response to the launch of the Government’s Equal Civil Marriage consultation, which is intended to come into force by 2015. The Government is not proposing that places of worship should be obliged to hold same sex marriages. This is rightly ruled out in the consultation. Religious marriages are a matter for each faith, religious organisation or denomination, not for the Government.
However, Labour is urging the Government go further than they currently plan. At the moment Theresa May has ruled out allowing any church to conduct a same sex marriage. Labour believes that is the wrong approach. If we really support the institution of marriage and want to welcome more people into it, then Government and Parliament should not deny the Quakers, the Unitarians and other religious organisations who want to celebrate gay marriage the chance to do so.
Commenting on the Government’s equal civil marriage consultation Kerry McCarthy MP said: “I have always been supporter of equal marriage and I am proud that seven years ago it was a Labour Government that introduced civil partnerships. Since the introduction of Civil Partnerships thousands of gay and lesbian people have had their relationships recongised and they have received many of the same rights of married straight couples. However they have not been able to use the word ‘marriage’, which is a word which means a lot our society.
“It is now time to take the next step and deliver marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Changing the law to support gay marriage is the right thing to do and is an important way for the state and society to recognise, respect and celebrate loving, long-term commitment in all its forms.
“It is for this reason I have joined Labour’s Campaign for Equal Marriage. I was troubled that following their poor results at last week’s local elections, some Conservative MPs attacked moves to bring forward equal marriage, casting some doubt over the Government’s commitment to the proposals. Equally on the day when President Obama affirmed his support for equal marriage, I know many people were disappointed that the Government did not take the opportunity to include an Equal Marriage Bill in the Queen’s speech. Equal Marriage should be a matter of principle and not an idea that the Conservative Party flirts with just to woo voters. Over the next parliament, I will continue to urge to the Coalition Government to keep its equal marriage commitment and to adopt Labour’s proposals which would grant those churches and religious organisations that want to celebrate gay marriage the freedom to do so.”
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said:
“The Labour Party strongly supports same sex marriage and I welcome the Government's consultation. People who love each other and want to make a long term commitment to each other should be able to get married. As a society we should support and celebrate that commitment. I hope the Government will now put legislation into the Queens Speech so we can build strong support across all parties in Parliament and pass these changes into law in the next twelve months.”