22nd March 2012
I share the views of the many people who have contacted me with their concerns about the redefinition of marriage and I was pleased to see a Bill aimed at reforming marriage was not included in the Queen’s Speech. This means it is unlikely that the institution of marriage will be reformed in this parliamentary session.
It is my personal view that religious marriage is a time-honoured institution that belongs to various faiths in the United Kingdom. It is not the place of the Government to dictate the individual consciences or beliefs of those with faith. That is not to say I have any prejudice whatsoever and indeed fully welcomed the creation of civil partnerships, which give homosexual couples comparable legal rights and responsibilities to those of marriage.
The public consultation on same-sex marriage started this month. It is open to any individual or organisations who are interested in expressing a view. I recommend that all those who have contacted me about this issue take part in the consultation here.
It is important to point out that there is absolutely no question of the churches or any other religious institution being forced to host ceremonies for same-sex marriage or civil partnerships. Indeed, the consultation only considers same-sex civil marriage and not religious marriage.