Nick Clegg backs gay church weddings

 

Churches and other religious premises should be allowed to host gay weddings, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

Mr Clegg stressed that he did not want to force any religious group to marry same-sex couples, but said he saw no reason to stop churches from doing so if they chose to.

His comments go beyond the proposals to legalise civil marriages for homosexual men and lesbians, set out in a Government consultation paper which has sparked a furious reaction from some religious groups.

The proposals, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, envisage same-sex civil marriage ceremonies in a register office or approved premises but no change to religious marriages, which can only take place between a man and a woman.

Under the proposed reforms, religious premises would continue to be allowed to host civil partnership registrations on a voluntary basis, but without any religious content.

Mr Clegg told the Evening Standard: "This is a personal view at the moment, but I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn't force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn't stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage.

"I don't see why two individuals who love each other and want to show commitment to each other should not be able to do so in a way that is socially recognised as being marriage."

The Church of England wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May last month to warn that the legalisation of civil marriage for same-sex couples would "alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman" and would result in legal challenges to force religious organisations to host gay weddings.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, warned that gay weddings would "hollow out" the meaning of heterosexual marriage and could lead to the "gradual unravelling of the Church of England".

But Mr Clegg said: "I have a very strong sensation that once the dust settles everyone will look back and think, 'What on earth was the controversy about? It just seems a perfectly natural thing to do'.

"I don't think it is anything to get hot under the collar about, or aggressive or polemical."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has hosted a meeting of religious groups which want the right to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, including Quakers, the Unitarian Church and some Jewish groups.

Ms Cooper has said there are "serious contradictions" in the Government's position.

Paul Parker, the most senior figure in the Quakers, said: "We really do not acknowledge there is a distinction between two types of couples.

"We want everyone to have the same experience, both legally and on the day.

"We are calling for the law to catch up, really, with something we already recognise."

Benjamin Cohen of the Out4Marriage campaign said: "We welcome the decision by Nick Clegg to support religious same-sex marriage because without allowing this permissive change in the law, all the Government would really be doing is changing the name of civil partnerships to civil marriages.

"Religious same-sex marriage is important.

"There are many couples who are religious and there are many religious ministers who believe in equality.

"True equality means allowing same-sex couples to marry within religious institutions that wish to do so while maintaining the right for religious institutions to refuse.

"No religious institution should be forced to conduct same-sex marriages but those that wish to should be allowed to because religious freedom is important too.

"Out4Marriage is glad that the continued pressure that we are putting on the Government over religious same-sex marriage is being listened to.

"It would be a crying shame if the Government banned same-sex couples to marry with equal rights to straight couples while trying to make the civil marriage system more equal."

PA

Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Voices
voices Furore is yet another example of shameful Westminster evasion, says Nigel Farage
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
News
peopleMan repeatedly tried to enter her homes in Los Angeles and London
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

£55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

Reception Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

£35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

DT Teacher - Food Technology

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job We are currently recr...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents