Jus­tice Min­is­ter says that all wed­dings should be sec­u­lar

The Church of England - - NEWS -

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.

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