Justice Minister says that all weddings should be secular
SIMON HUGHES, Justice Minister, Liberal Democrat MP for Southwark, and an active Anglican layman, has said that religious wedding ceremonies should have no legal status.
He is proposing that Britain adopt the French system in which couples who want to be married in church would first have to go through a secular, state-approved ceremony.
Hughes made his remarks after the Supreme Court ruled that the Church of Scientology has the right to conduct weddings because it is a ‘legitimate place of meeting for religious worship’.
As a result of this ruling the Law Commission is to review Britain’s marriage laws. Although Hughes made his comments in the light of this review, he has argued for some time for a separation between religious and civil wedding ceremonies.
In May last year Hughes upset many supporters of gay marriage and many members of his own party by abstaining on the third reading of the Equal Marriage bill. He voted in favour on the second reading.
In a statement explaining his vote, Hughes said that as a Christian he believed marriage was a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman but that as a ‘evangelical Protestant Christian’ he wanted to see separation between church and states ‘in the interests of both of them’.
He called for ‘heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgender and non-gender people’ all to have the choice of an ‘identical sort of civil partnership or of a civil marriage or union’ but said this should be separate from Christian or other faith marriages which should no longer receive legal recognition from the state.