Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update

Unlike the House of Commons, which rose last week, the House of Lords has continued working and does not leave for its summer recess until Wednesday. On Tuesday afternoon the Upper House was due to debate the Draft Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership) Regulations and the Draft Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Consequential and Contrary Provisions and Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2014, both of which were laid before the House on 3 July and both subject to the affirmative procedure. However, concern was raised by Quakers in Britain, who had welcomed the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and eagerly anticipated when all Quaker marriages, of same-sex or opposite-sex couples, could be celebrated and reported to the state in exactly the same way. Recording Clerk Paul Parker said

 “This is more than a formality for those in civil partnerships . . . It is deeply unfair that Quaker couples are denied their opportunity to celebrate their long-term loving relationships in their worshipping community. Instead, from 10 December 2014 there will be a civil process and they will be issued a ‘certificate of conversion’ rather than a marriage certificate.”

Furthermore, the process could only be conducted by a senior registrar and, as a consequence, some might have to travel long distances in order to complete this merely bureaucratic procedure. The BBC reports that after pressure from Baroness Thornton (Lab), the draft SIs have been withdrawn and revised versions will now be debated in the autumn. It is anticipated that they will still be implemented in December.

Nevertheless, same sex marriage will be discussed by their Lordships on Wednesday morning during oral questions; and Lord Fowler (Con), will ask the Government “whether they are satisfied with the enactment and operation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013”.