The House of Lords has voted for same sex marriage; a series of votes saw the majority of Conservative, Labour, LibDem and Crossbench peers support it. A number of improvements to the bill included a commitment to examine humanist weddings (the issue being less what humanists believe and more that their system is registrant based not building based.)
Although the Commons must now agree the Lords amendments this is not thought to be controversial.
It has taken less than four years for the decision of Yearly Meeting in York to become law – in England and Wales, with careful protection for those who do not agree. Scotland will soon follow suit. Now to think of those in countries where these rights and freedoms do not exist and indeed, where things are going backwards.
Last year Quakers said:
Quakers in Enfield back same sex marriage; calls on Government to extend plans to religious same sex marriage for denominations that want it
Winchmore Hill Quakers – the Quaker organisation for Enfield and parts of Barnet and
Hertfordshire – wish publicly to support same sex marriage. We believe that the Spirit of God is calling some same sex couples to marriage - a holy union based on life long commitment – and we should recognise this.
We believe we may be the first religious group based in the borough to issue a public statement in support of same sex marriage.
Same sex marriage is a matter of love, equality, and truth. Every great moral advance
surprises and upsets people and is strongly resisted. We have seen this many times in our history. Quakers were pioneers in fighting slavery, seeking equality for women, providing humane care for the mentally ill, and in expanding education. We reach this
position on marriage not to be fashionable or to shock people but because after
much reflection, in the Spirit, we consider it to be the right thing to
We believe that we can listen to and respect those who disagree with us and by listening and waiting together, reach common understanding. We deplore aggressive and
derogatory language used by any side in this discussion. We welcome the current Government consultation on same sex marriage [now closed] but we note it will only permit civil secular same sex marriage. As a religious body which has married its own
members in its own way since the mid C.17th, we wish to marry our same sex couples in exactly the same way and through the same process as our opposite sex members. We believe that both religious and civil same sex marriage should be legalised.
After 22 years of discussion and reflection, Quakers in Britain decided in 2009 to seek a change in the law. 1700 Quakers attended our conference at York which reached a common view. However, we wish to make it clear Quakers nationally and we as a local group do not seek any law which would force other religious congregations to carry out marriages they do not agree with. We are happy to have respectful dialogue with those of any background who wish to discuss our position.”
(Our May press statement updated a little.)