"And I should say that the people of the Rhondda remember Churchill's period in relation to the Tonypandy riots. However, the Lord Chancellor has responsibility for marriage law, and he will know that the law forbids civil weddings from including religious readings or music, even though many people who are not able to get married in church or who do not want to do so would like to have such readings. The Government say that they will allow that for civil partnerships, but not for civil weddings. Can we not have a little more equality for heterosexuals?"
A little more equality for heterosexuals? That'd be great! But civil partnerships aren't open to them and civil marriage isn't open to LGBT people so whether they can or can't have religious readings might be jumping the gun a little. Let's have actual equality please.
Nick Herbert's answer leaves me with a very bitter taste in my mouth:
"I am answering this question because I am the only one in the village. [Laughter.] I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for the fact that his question was transferred. The Equality Act 2010 removed the express prohibition on civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises. In response to that amendment of the law, the Government are committed to talking to those with a key interest in how to take this forward. That will include consideration of whether civil partnerships should be allowed to include religious readings, music and symbols, and the implications for marriage will have to be considered as part of that."
Hilarious! Did you see what he did there? He said he was the only one in the village! You know, like that TV series.. *sigh* But the answer leaves us no clearer as to what this consultation they have planned actually means. What do they plan to do? It's a consultation without portfolio.
And in a written question from, our friend, Chris Bryant, we get:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will bring forward proposals to amend the law to allow religious music and readings at civil weddings and civil partnerships.
Lynne Featherstone answers, possibly grumpily given he keeps asking these silly, badly thought out questions:
Civil partnership and civil marriage registrations are entirely secular in nature and prohibited from taking place on religious premises or containing any religious language, or religious music.
An amendment made during the passage of the Equality Act 2010 removed the express prohibition on civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises. In response to this amendment, the Government committed to talking to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships. This will include consideration of whether civil partnerships should be allowed to include religious readings, music and symbols. This commitment was made clear in the Government's published document 'Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality', published on 16 June 2010.
We will begin this exercise before the summer parliamentary recess.
Well at least we now know there is a timetable developing, if not in place.
Confused? You will be...
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist