In a huge victory for religious freedom, gay and lesbian couples wishing to include religious content in their civil partnership ceremony or wishing to have their ceremony solemnized in a welcoming place of worship may legally do so, according to BBC News. Clergy and congregations wishing to participate in the registering of gay and lesbian civil partnerships will no longer be forbidden from practicing their religion.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 which established civil partnerships originally forbade inclusion of any religious elements in the civil partnerships registration ceremony. The changes go into effect later this year.
Among those supporting this change was a group of senior Anglican clergy who stated the following in a letter to the House of Lords last year:
To deny people of faith the opportunity of registering the most important promise of their lives in their willing church or synagogue, according to its liturgy, is plainly discriminatory.
Despite this, the Church of England has no intention of opening its churches to civil partnership ceremonies. BBC News quotes a Church of England spokesman:
The House of Bishops’ statement of July 2005 made it clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register civil partnerships and that remains the position.
How long until an Anglican cleric ignores the Church’s intentions and out of his belief, conscience and conviction joins his Jewish, Quaker and Unitarian peers in registering civil partnerships in his local church?