Government to unveil consultation plans for equal marriage in England and Wales tomorrow

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Consultation plans for the UK government’s introduction of civil marriage equality for gay couples are expected to be unveiled tomorrow.

The consultation, which will examine how, rather than whether, to introduce equal marriage will be revealed by the equalities minister Lynne Featherstone with the backing of the prime minister and deputy prime minister.

The move was announced in September 2011 with a Downing Street source saying David Cameron had “personally intervened” to ensure that the consultation takes place and that the law is changed within the lifetime of this parliament. anticipates the consultation to encompass how existing civil partnerships would be treated under a change in the law and whether same-sex couples will continue to have the option of civil partnerships as well as marriage.

The move to introduce equal marriage is also supported by the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband and the Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas.

Preceding weeks have seen numerous high profile religious figures speak out against equal civil marriage and fears that churches could be forced to hold ceremonies, though religious gay marriages are not being consulted on.

Recent polls have found more people in the UK in favour of equal marriage rights than opposed, though neither showed majority support.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph shows 45 per cent supporting the move in principle, while 36 per cent oppose it.

A similar poll by YouGov for the Sunday Times found 43 per cent in favour of same sex marriage, 32 percent in favour of just civil partnerships and just 15 per cent opposed to both.

A questionable poll commissioned by Catholics Voices and conducted by Comres was released last week. It appeared to show that 70 per cent of the public are opposed to same sex couples getting married. A full PinkNews analysis of the subject is here.

The Times became the first daily newspaper to outline its vocal support to reforming marriage by allowing same sex couples to enjoy the same rights as opposite sex couples. It wrote: “It would enrich the institution of marriage, enhance social stability and expand the sum of human happiness. It is a cause that has the firm support of The Times.”

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have made clear their opposition to marriage equality. Britain’s only Catholic cardinal, Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien called it a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

But Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Judaism and just last week, Reform Judaism backed equality and wish to conduct religious same sex marriages.

A Catholic newspaper claimed on Friday the government was expected to “bow to public pressure” and ask “whether gay civil marriage should be allowed at all”.

A government source confirmed to the consultation “has always been about how to introduce equal marriage, not whether to introduce it”.

More than 50,000 responses were submitted to the Scottish government’s consultation on the introduction of gay marriage last December.