UK: Gay rights group wants 'parties to marriage' in bill to legalise SS marriage

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Fri Feb 24 12:55:33 EST 2012

UK:Forget being called husband and wife, gay rights group wants 'parties to marriage' in bill to legalise same-sex marriage

By Steve Doughty, Social Affairs Correspondent 
February 18, 2012

Proposal: Stonewall made the suggestion for this year's Marriage Bill

Gay rights activists are campaigning to have the words 'husband' and 'wife' erased from the statute book as part of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Pressure group Stonewall yesterday released a draft bill, intended as a 'model' for the Marriage Bill due later this year, calling for spouses to be known as 'parties to a marriage' to avoid confusion for homosexual couples.

The move provoked protests from critics, who say the aim of a new law would be to destroy the traditional understanding of marriage.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: 'The proposal to wipe the terms husband and wife out of the law at the stroke of a pen underlines the far-reaching implications of redefining marriage.'

He said gay rights activists wanted 'to impose their agenda on every married couple by force of law'.

Author Patricia Morgan, who coined the phrase marriage lite for cohabitee relationships, added: 'Its purpose is to take traditional notions of marriage - a complementary relationship between a man and a woman, a regenerative relationship - and do away with them.'  Civil partnerships, which give gay partners all the legal privileges of marriage, have been available since 2005.

But David Cameron declared his support for opening the full title of marriage to same-sex couples last autumn.

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A consultation document on a gay marriage law is expected this spring. But such a law is regarded by many Tories as a step too far to indulge the Liberal Democrats and a group of 100 are said to have made their opposition known.

Stonewall, a group which has been influential in Whitehall thinking since the late 1990s, said the necessary legal changes could be made in a Bill of five clauses.

Its chief Ben Summerskill said: 'It is a model for legislation and in some clauses you have to replace the words husband and wife because you cannot have two husbands or two wives.' 


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