BRITAIN’S Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has pledged to introduce marriage equality and has confirmed that the UK’s coalition government will legislate for it by 2015.
Confirmation came in a letter to British Quakers. In it Clegg said:
Marriage is an important institution based on love and commitment and I believe that it is a twenty first century human right for that choice to be available to all – gay or straight. So I am proud that this Coalition Government has now committed to introduce equal marriage.
It is not the place of government to mandate religious organisations to conduct gay marriages. But nor is it the place of government to ban them from doing so.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain, said:
Quakers welcome Nick Clegg's support for our position on this. Quakers see God in everyone and so we would say all committed relationships are of equal worth. We have recognised same-sex couples as married since 2009 and have been waiting for the law to catch up. We will await with interest how the coalition government will make this a reality in law when the report of the recent consultation on equal marriage, which currently extends only to civil marriages, is published.
This news will come as a blow to the Evangelical Alliance, which, on July 6, issued an appeal to churches to pray for the Scottish Government to drop its plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
Churches are called to pray as the Scottish government meets next week to decide what to do following a consultation it carried out in the country.
The Evangelical Alliance is part of Scotland for Marriage, and Fred Drummond, the Alliance's director of Scotland, said:
The cabinet needs to listen to the many thousands of people who have made their voices heard and drop these ill considered plans. This is a time for the Church to pray for our leaders, as they meet to decide how to respond to the consultation. We must ask that they have wisdom. It is vital that they hear the calls of the vast majority of respondents not to redefine marriage.
The Scotland for Marriage campaign group has brought together many groups which:
Believe that the proposals to redefine marriage would be highly damaging and undermine the role of marriage as one of the basic building blocks of society.
Plans to redefine marriage were announced in Scotland before England and Wales, although the significant delay in responding to the consultation has led to speculation that first minister Alex Salmond might wait and follow Downing Street's lead.
The Scottish consultation closed in December 2011 so campaigners on both sides have been waiting for some time to find out what will happen next. The consultation in England and Wales has recently closed and the government are expected to provide a response later this year.
Even if the Scottish cabinet decide to press ahead with the controversial plans there would then be a further consultation on a draft bill before a finalised bill entered parliament in 2013.
Meanwhile, a poll just published indicates that half of Scots believe that the legalisation of same-sex marriage should be decided by a referendum. The ComRes survey, on behalf of the Scotland for Marriage group, showed that 50 percent of people want the matter to be decided by a nationwide referendum rather than the Scottish Parliament.