MPs to debate humanist marriage ceremonies

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is to receive a third and final Commons reading later today, with MPs set to vote on an amendment concerning humanist marriage ceremonies.

In the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, MPs will vote on an amendment to the bill put forward by the Humanist Association, to allow recognised groups to officiate at marriage ceremonies.

At the moment, anyone taking part in a humanist ceremony must still have their marriage made legal through a register office.

However, Humanist ceremonies have been a fully legal form of marriage in Scotland since 2005.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “The amendment does not open up legal recognition for any new weddings other than humanist ones.

“Humanist weddings are popular and meaningful and legal recognition for them would be fair, timely, and not at all controversial.”

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert is a supporter of the amendment.

Writing for on Monday, the MP said: “The prime minister may have to accept that there are likely to be majorities in the House of Commons for opposite sex civil partnerships, humanist weddings as well as equal marriage for gay and lesbian people. He should welcome these changes.”

But Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry said the humanist weddings plan was “not a particularly sensible amendment, whichever side of the argument you’re on”.

Yesterday, a proposal – which would have delayed the bill – to also allow straight couples to take up civil partnerships was defeated by 375 votes to 70.

MPs instead backed a Labour plan to consult on civil partnership changes soon – rather than after five years.

MPs also voted against a motion to grant civil registrars the ability to ‘opt-out’ of same-sex marriage for religious reasons.

Gay couples could now marry in England and Wales as soon as summer 2014.