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May 19 2013

Humanist Weddings Controversial in Britain

It appears that non-religious weddings are more controversial than same-sex weddings in Britain, where members of parliament are running into opposition in trying to add recognition for humanist weddings into a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

Jedi, druid and pagan weddings could be made legal across Britain under proposals from MPs, it was claimed last night.

They want to change the law to allow humanist weddings, for couples who do not want a religious or civil marriage to express their commitment.

But Tories say such an amendment would ‘dilute’ the institution of marriage by allowing other ‘ridiculous’ sects to marry couples…

MPs are trying to amend the same sex marriage bill, the controversial legislation to allow gay weddings, to allow humanist weddings to have legal force too. It will be voted on next week.

But government sources say if they are empowered to carry out marriages, it will be impossible to stop other sects going to court to claim the same power on the grounds of discrimination.

A government source said: ‘Marriage is hugely important and binds families and society together. We believe allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot will strengthen marriage by making it more relevant in modern society.

‘But proposals such as this which seek to undermine and dilute the institution of marriage by creating a two-tiered system are ridiculous. We have a fundamentally different marriage system to the one in Scotland and while they may be open to pagans, spiritualists and Jedi’s conducting marriages, we are not.

Hey, let’s try this: It’s none of your fucking business what goes on at someone else’s wedding. I don’t care if they get married by a drunken clown or an Elvis impersonator and you shouldn’t either, unless you’re just another religious authoritarian. This is really quite simple: Everyone should have a legal civil union, for which all they have to do is say “I do” or sign a legal document. If you want to hold a ceremony of some type — any type you want — that’s entirely up to you.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Suido

    My cousin, who lives in London, got married in a Vegas/Bollywood themed wedding, officiated by another cousin who was dressed as Elvis.

    True story, and I’m still annoyed I was on the wrong side of the world for that event. I wonder if Tories realise just how much marriage has been undermined and diluted by happy heterosexual couples already….

  2. 2
    matthewhodson

    “…allowing other ‘ridiculous’ sects to marry couples.”
    Clearly the Tories only want their ridiculous sect to marry couples

  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    Weddings just need two participants, some witnesses (two is usually the minimal number), and an officiant. The marriage license is given by the civil authorities beforehand and the certificate is approved by the same authorities. How hard is it to get five signatures on a piece of paper?

  4. 4
    Arkady

    Some of the restrictions are a bit ridiculous – some friends of mine wanted a hybrid wedding (she’s religious, he isn’t, so they wanted the god bits taken out of his vows) but they legally weren’t allowed to modify the church ceremony. The compromise was to do what groups like pagans also have to do, have a registry office ‘quickie’ wedding then do whatever they like for the friends-and-family ceremony (in this case a church wedding with the bride’s uncle, a CoE vicar, officiating, but with the legal bit already taken care of).

    The restrictions on civil partnerships, the same as civil weddings, up until now has been that you are not allowed anything the slightest bit religious during the ‘official’ part of the ceremony. OK for the non-religious, but rather a mean restriction on those religious groups that do want to perform marriages for everyone. There’s also some weird and wonderful rules on where you’re allowed to perform civil weddings, the pagan ones often fall foul of these by being in the open air.

  5. 5
    matty1

    The Tory party has long had a reputation for extramarital affairs combined with attacks on single mothers and similar hypocrisy. This is just standard operating procedure.

    Maybe if we told them a common sense approach would be banned by the EU* they would come round.

    *Actually a lot of European countries have exactly the same kind of marriage system Ed advocates where the civil ceremony is saying yes and signing a form and nothing else has legal effect, but hopefully the little Englanders won’t realise.

  6. 6
    dingojack

    Arkady – “There’s also some weird and wonderful rules on where you’re allowed to perform civil weddings, the pagan ones often fall foul of these by being in the open air.”

    My friends got married by a celebrant in a beach-side park just around the headland from Cronulla*. Yes they had to book the park from the Council, but the only cops who turned up were invited guests.

    How weird indeed!

    Dingo
    ——–
    * to avoid the marauding packs of drunken, racists yobbos. [/sarc]

  7. 7
    D. C. Sessions

    Everyone should have a legal civil union, for which all they have to do is say “I do” or sign a legal document. If you want to hold a ceremony of some type — any type you want — that’s entirely up to you.

    You mean like in Mexico?

  8. 8
    steve84

    Simple solution: mandatory civil weddings

    They already have civil registrars. So they can just require couples to have a simple civil ceremony. Afterwards they can have any elaborate ceremony they want.

    I really don’t get this obsession with doing the legal stuff at the big party.

  9. 9
    steve84

    Btw, the continental European system comes from France where it was started after the French Revolution. Then Napoleon spread it to other countries with his wars and in turn countries that were inspired by his legal code spread it to their colonies.

  10. 10
    mill

    I definitely agree in principle that any consenting adults who want to get married should be able to do it in whatevery way they like. But it’s worth noting that a lot of the modifications being proposed to the bill in question are actually an effort to prevent the bill from passing at all.

    The thing about opposite-sex couples having access to civil partnerships (which is a something my girlfriend and I have talked about) is all very well in principle, but it was proposed as an amendment to the same-sex marriage bill by three scheming Tory back-benchers as a means of delaying the bill from going through. Simple enough idea; the more provisions the bill has, the more likely MPs will find something to object to.

    Personally, as much as I’d like an extension of civil partnership rights, I’m more than happy to put that to one side for now so we can pass the same-sex marriage bill. Let’s keep our priorities straight.

  11. 11
    matty1

    @ Steve84 but that would French and European which sends the Tory right into an frenzy.

  12. 12
    Alverant

    I’m concerned about this. Why do people care so much how a couple gets married. Jedi, druid and pagan religions are less ridiculous as mainstream religions (mostly due to the lack of violence done in the name of said religions) so how do they dilute marriage? I second the idea of requiring a simple civil service for the official records and letting the couple have whatever ceremony they want. About 2 years ago I saw a fan-ish weeding at a convention. The groom wore a tie-die shirt and the religious official wore a kilt. It was a great wedding that stood less on tradition and more on the emotions and isn’t that more important?

  13. 13
    Pen

    I think you’ve confused humanist and non-religious at some point in this post. The British state does of course perform countless non-religious marriages. The discussion is over which other organisations may perform marriages which will be recognised by the state with no need for a further civil ceremony as you get in many european countries. The main religions are already among them. The point is if the humanists can do it, why not the gardener’s club or my circle of friends. I don’t know why not really, but there it is.

  14. 14
    mildlymagnificent

    There’s also some weird and wonderful rules on where you’re allowed to perform civil weddings, the pagan ones often fall foul of these by being in the open air.

    Lawks. There’s a goodly proportion of Oz marriages that wouldn’t pass muster if they had to be recognised officially by the Brits then.

    As for the not so common religions, I initially couldn’t see why the celebrants couldn’t just get the usual non-religious celebrant’s license and do what all the celebrants do here. There are “core” legal requirements, but most of the ceremony is agreed between the couple and the person officiating. I suspect the Brits are a bit more prescriptive about what can and can’t be done.

  15. 15
    f1tz

    Shit like this is why Scotland needs to ditch rUK and let them get on with it.

  16. 16
    Nick Gotts

    Actually a lot of European countries have exactly the same kind of marriage system Ed advocates where the civil ceremony is saying yes and signing a form and nothing else has legal effect, but hopefully the little Englanders won’t realise.

    That’s what has legal effect in England and Wales: the couple and two witnesses signing the marriage register. In a religious ceremony, when the priest/vicar/rabbi/imam/etc. pronounces the couple married, they aren’t, legally speaking, until the signing has taken place.

    Shit like this is why Scotland needs to ditch rUK and let them get on with it.

    There’s much better reasons than that. A fair electoral system, no privatisation of the NHS, and just possibly, getting rid of the nukes at Faslane. (My bet is that they’d be allowed to stay as part of a package deal; there’s a lot of pressure points would be available to the FUK* in the negotiations that would follow a “Yes” vote in next year’s referendum, and there’s nowhere practical FUK could store them.)

    *Formerly United Kingdom

  17. 17
    amyjane

    To be fair Great Britain has an official church. In this country a friend of mine became a mail order minister 25-30 years ago and she performs weddings. The Hippie, write your own ceremony type. Another reason to keep church and state separate.

  18. 18
    coryat

    Lots of good reasons for Scotland not to leave the UK as well, including avoiding a retreat into nostalgic nationalism, not having to re-apply to be a part of the EU, not throwing pensions into upheaval, not potentially having to have border checks when moving between England and Scotland and preserving the shared history and sense of social identity of our United Kingdom.

  19. 19
    steve84

    @amyjane
    That is irrelevant here. That are several non-Anglican religious communities that are allowed to perform legal weddings without the presence of a government registrar.

    Btw, there are US states where legal humanist weddings are impossible because of very restrictive requirements for officiants. Indiania for example. The humanists there recently lost a lawsuit about it. So this isn’t a church/state issue per se.

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