Churches and other religious institutions must be free to officiate over gay weddings if they wish, Ed Miliband has said.
The Labour leader called for equality legislation to include a clause allowing same-sex partners to marry in religious premises with the backing of the institution concerned. The Government is consulting on proposals for civil marriages for same-sex couples in England and Wales, with legislation promised before the 2015 election. However, under present plans the new law would apply only to civil weddings, despite representations from some religious groups – including the Quakers and Reform Jews – that they would like the opportunity to conduct same-sex marriages.
David Cameron has privately expressed sympathy with their position but is concerned that it could further inflame those religions vehemently opposed to any change in the status quo.
Mr Miliband said: "We will be pushing the Government to get on with the process for legislating for equal marriage … where faith groups want to provide that opportunity for gay couples ... they should be able to do so."
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