Missing mothers: Plea to include mothers’ names on marriage certificates passes 25,000 signatures

 

Elisa Criado
Wednesday 07 May 2014 01:04
Comments
A guide to marriage certificates
A guide to marriage certificates

A petition asking for mothers’ names to be included on marriage certificates has passed 25,000 signatures, 75 per cent of its 35,000 target.

The petition, published on change.org, appeals for a move away from the view in which marriage is seen as “a business transaction between the father of the bride and the father of the groom”. Currently, in England and Wales, marriage certificates include space for the name of the Father of the Bride and the Father of the Groom, with separate boxes allocated to each of their occupations. The mothers of the happy couple are excluded from this official documentation. In contrast, civil partnership certificates, as well as Scottish and Northern Irish marriage certificates, do supply room for the names of the bride and groom's mothers.

According to the petitioner, the lack of mothers' names on marriage certificates in England and Wales "is part of a much wider pattern of inequality. Women are routinely silenced and written out of history.”

The petition addresses Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Sarah Rapson, The Registrar General, and Sajid Javid of the Government Equalities Office. At the first news of the appeal, the Home Office said there were no plans for an overhaul of the current system.

The format of the English and Welsh marriage certificate has remained unchanged since the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1837. As in any patrilineal society, tracing female ancestors is notoriously harder than uncovering the male line in family trees. The absence of mothers’ names on marriage documents contributes further to the phenomenon of invisible women ancestors.

The journalist and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez has endorsed the campaign in an article in the New Statesman. Discussing her own considerations on whether or not to get married, she writes: “I cannot sully a relationship that means so much to me, by associating it with an institution that renders my mother worthless, invisible, surplus to requirements.” Like the 26,000 who have thus far signed the petition, she hopes that the addressees will soon make a change to this “antiquated and needlessly discriminatory state of affairs”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in