If We're A Gay Couple, Can We Have A Religious Wedding?

By Mperezpbro (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
The 2004 Civil Partnership Act maintained that gay couples could not include religion in their civil ceremony. So no vows, iconography, prayers, hymns or biblical readings at all.

This remains true of civil ceremonies today. 

Gay marriage will, in theory, change this. 
Religious venues will be allowed to perform same-sex marriages on their premises but only if the religion has opted to do so.

The Government is keen to enhance marriage equality laws but not at the expense of religious freedom. If a religious group opts-out of performing same-sex marriages, they can't be sued for discrimination. 

It's a sort of get out of jail free card for religions uncomfortable with the idea of equal marriage. 

For example, if the Catholic Church opt-out (and they will) then no Catholic church in the UK will be able to officiate a same-sex ceremony. 

Religious doctrine is not known for changing quickly and, realistically, you're sure to be buried beneath the church before being allowed to walk down the aisle. There's plenty of debate on both sides about the moral implications of gay marriage, but the bottom line is that most religious organisations will be opting out. 

The only religion to have been explicitly exempt from performing gay marriage is the Anglican Church. It is essentially illegal for them to perform any such ceremony.

It isn't all bad news however. There are religious groups who will be opting in. Many of these have been vocal supporters of gay marriage for decades. The Unitarian Church for example, has carried out same-sex blessings for gay couples since the 1980s and has 170 congregations spread across the UK. Similarly, the Quakers have blessed same-sex partnerships since long before the 2004 Civil Partnership Act. They too have meetings across the country. 

In November 2013, the Methodist Church began a consultation with its own congregations about gay marriage and will present its findings (and presumably its decision to opt-in or opt-out) at some point in 2014. Both Liberal and Reform Judaism have added their support to gay marriage too,  and have snubbed the party line of their conservative counterparts

The best advice is to check with your local organisation to see if your religion has opted-in. If they haven't, then don't despair. If you believe in a God that is omniscient and omnipresent, then you don't need to be married in a church for him to be with you. After all, an atheist doesn't need Richard Dawkins to officiate their ceremony.

The important thing isn't the where or the how, but the who to and the why

If you're looking for inspiration for you big day, then visit the Pink Wedding Days website for a list of gay friendly wedding venues and services.

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