David Cameron backs gay marriage in places of worship as it is announced same-sex religious ceremonies WILL go ahead
Prime Minister insists religious groups would not be forced to conduct ceremonies but added he didn't want gay people 'excluded' from marrying in places of worship
Plans for gay couples to be allowed to marry in churches or other religious buildings, as well as secular settings, are to be set out next week by the Coalition Government.
David Cameron’s move delighted campaigners for marriage equality, but it will put him on a collision course with church leaders and many Conservative MPs who insist weddings can only take place between a man and a woman.
Tonight the Prime Minister was warned he would split his party by trying to force through the move, which is backed by the overwhelming majority of Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs.
The Government initially intended to legislate for same-sex marriage in approved premises such as register offices and hotels, but has now significantly widened its proposals.
Under the revised plans, religious institutions would also have the right to marry gay couples, although Whitehall sources stressed that the planned legislation would make explicit that churches would not be forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies against their will.
It is understood the change followed advice by Government lawyers that a blanket ban on religious weddings could be challenged in court, while a system allowing churches or other groups to “opt in” to conduct ceremonies would be legally watertight.
Mr Cameron had told colleagues he wants to press ahead with legislation quickly, arguing the step is a simple matter of equality and fairness. It is expected it will be published by March with a view to becoming law towards the end of 2013.
The Prime Minister said: “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.
“But let me be absolutely 100 per cent clear – if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.”
The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church strongly opposed same-sex marriage during recent consultation on the proposals, but the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews are among groups that are expected to apply to stage ceremonies.
Benjamin Cohen, of Out4Marriage, which is in favour of same-sex weddings, said: “We’re delighted to hear the Government will be legislating to introduce full equal marriage including same-sex marriages solemnised by religious ministers.”
But Colin Hart, campaign director for the Coalition For Marriage, which opposes the move, said: “The decision to press ahead with the profoundly undemocratic proposals to rewrite the traditional meaning of marriage is deeply disappointing and regrettable. What is even more alarming is the PM has gone back on his promises that churches will be protected.”
More than 100 Conservative MPs are expected to oppose same-sex marriage in a free vote on the proposals. Many backbenchers say the move has enraged party activists and constituents.
Stewart Jackson, the MP for Peterborough, predicted Mr Cameron would regret the move. He said: “There is no mandate for this. It was not in our election manifesto. It is being foisted on the Conservative Party.”
- 1 Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Frank Lampard equalises for Manchester City against Chelsea: how the internet reacted
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Rihanna 'nude photos' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Jennifer Lawrence leaked 4Chan sex video branded 'fake' by forum users
Gabrielle Union contacts FBI over nude 4Chan pictures leaked by 'vultures'
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...
£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified science t...