To whom it may concern,I am writing to respond to the consultation on outdoor marriages and civil partnerships. I am responding as an individual and a humanist and wish to make clear that while I welcome the proposed reforms as enhancing freedom of choice (and therefore my response can be recorded as ‘Yes’ to questions 5, 18, and 20a-c), I think the Government must also extend legal recognition to humanist marriages. These reforms strengthen the case for doing so without any further delay.I wish to make my views clear on this by responding specifically to question 28.
– an individual or representative of a company or body affected or potentially affected by this proposal.
– religion or belief
The Government should extend legal recognition of humanist marriages without further delay. Legal recognition of humanist marriages would:
In 2020, the High Court ruled that the failureto extend legal recognition to humanist marriages was 'discrimination'. However, the judge said that the discrimination could be justified for the time being by making reference to the Government's stated desire to conduct wholesale rather than piecemeal reform. This desire was considered to be legitimate because piecemeal reform was said to possibly introduce further discrimination. In particular, the inconsistent rules around who could and could not have outdoor marriages was cited as an example of such discrimination that might be introduced.
Now the Government is extending legal recognition to outdoor civil and religious marriages. That means three things.
First, the Government has engaged in the very kind of piecemeal reform that it said it was against in order to win the humanist marriage case.
Second, by introducing outdoor civil and religious marriages, it has also removed the barriers that were presented by the previously inconsistent rules on which marriages could be outdoors.
And third, the Government has in fact further discriminated against me and other humanists, because it has now allowed outdoor religious marriages to be legally recognised while still not allowing outdoor humanist marriages.
It is worth noting that this discrimination is more severe for LGBT people, as LGBT people are disproportionately likely to be non-religious and humanist, while most religious groups do not allow same-sex marriages. Humanists UK does more same-sex weddings every year without legal recognition than there are legally recognised same-sex religious marriages. The lack of choice afforded to people wanting same-sex marriages is therefore much more acute than for people wanting opposite-sex marriages.
Therefore the Government must now extend legal recognition to humanist marriages without further delay. It could even do so on an interim basis, initially, pending further reforms to marriage law following on from the Law Commission review. It can do this tomorrow by making use of the order-making power given to it by section 14 of the 2013 Marriage Act.
Please give reasons and supply evidence of further equalities impacts as appropriate.
See previous answer. You have failed to recognise the impact that these reforms will have on the case for immediate legal recognition of humanist marriages.
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