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Unitarians welcome statement by Prime Minister in support of same sex marriage in churches

Statement by Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches

I welcome the statement today by David Cameron supporting the holding of same sex weddings in churches .

The Prime Minister, speaking after an event in Redditch today, said: ‘I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.

‘But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.

‘That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament but personally I will be supporting it.’

Legislation has been promised before 2015, and it is anticipated that next week Culture Secretary Maria Miller will launch the government’s plans in response to this summer’s consultation on equal marriage

Unitarians look forward to the announcement and that this will mean we will be free to conduct same–sex marriages in our places of worship if congregations wish to do so.

We don’t expect Parliament to force other churches or individual clergy, who may disagree with us, to marry same–sex couples if they do not wish to do so. However, we do not consider that our wishes should therefore be set aside. We claim the right to do so in line with our own deeply held convictions about the inherent worth of all individuals and for public recognition of relationships.

Civil partnerships in religious premises, whilst welcomed by Unitarians, are not a substitute for same sex religious marriage. The introduction of civil partnerships in religious premises has faced difficulties and progress has been slow although several Unitarian congregations have registered to host ceremonies and some have taken place; the first being in Ullet Road Unitarian Church in Liverpool.

It is evident that there has been little public disquiet or indeed interest. I would think this will be the response if religious marriage for same sex couples was permitted with churches simply left to chose. There would be a flurry of media interest and then people would simply get on with their own lives.

7 December 2012