Full equality in marriage.

Why is A Decent Proposal important?

In 21st Century Britain we’re more than ready to extend marriage rights to same sex couples. Liberty is delighted that the Coalition has committed to do just that.

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Tell me more about A Decent Proposal

In the last few decades we've come a long way from the bad old days when people faced regular legal and societal discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. The New Labour Government deserves much of the credit for this: equalising the age of consent, legalising same-sex adoption and introducing civil partnerships, not to mention passing the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 which have together helped to ensure that our rights and freedoms receive equal protection regardless of sexual orientation.

The Coalition Government is now continuing the good work with the Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Act. The Act allows for gay civil marriage and gay marriage in places of worship – without obliging religious denominations to hold such ceremonies.

This follows the Government’s acceptance of Liberty's pto an earlier consultation and the Legal Opinion we obtained from Karon Monaghan QC. Those worried that that faith groups will be coerced into performing ceremonies can rest assured that the Bill has been carefully and cleverly crafted to ensure full protection for freedom of conscience and belief.

Liberty welcomes this Bill as a historic step in the right direction for marriage equality. We are supportive of provisions in the Bill which will give those religious denominations which support equal marriage the opportunity to marry gay couples in accordance with their religious beliefs and traditions.

While no faith group should be forced to marry a same-sex couple, those that wish to do so should not be prevented.

Our only concern with the Act is a clause which would perpetuate inequality in the provision of occupational pension schemes for gay couples.

In 2012, Liberty client John Walker won his legal battle to secure equal pension benefits for his civil partner. Mr Walker’s situation was clearly discriminatory – if he had dissolved his civil partnership and married a woman, she would have been immediately entitled to a full spousal pension in the event of his death. It is disappointing that the Government is now appealing this decision while simultaneously trying to perpetuate the inequality in the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act.