Yvette Cooper on Religious Organisations Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

Yvette CooperYvette Cooper MP, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, following a meeting of religious organisations and individuals backing same sex marriage, said:

"It is clear from today's meeting that many religious communities and people within different faiths support same sex marriage. And it is really important that their voices are heard. 

"Too often the debate appears polarised between church and state, yet today we heard faith leaders from different backgrounds set out powerfully why they support equal marriage, why they want to be able to hold and celebrate same sex marriage within their own faiths too, and why they disagree with the response some senior church leaders have submitted. 

"The consensus in the meeting today was very clear. Two people who love each other and want to make a long term commitment to one another should be able to get married, whatever their gender and sexuality.

"No church or religious organisation should be forced to conduct same sex marriages. Freedom of religion is a very important part of our society. It is embedded in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the courts will continue to respect that, and Parliament will be able to reaffirm that when legislation is debated. 

"However, it is equally important to respect religious freedom by allowing those organisations that do want to offer same sex marriage ceremonies the opportunity to do so. 

"At the moment the Government is ruling out allowing any religious organisation from conducting same sex marriages. That is unfair on organisations such as the Quakers, the Unitarians and Reform and Liberal strands of Judaism who want the freedom to celebrate same sex marriage. It also makes it harder for other churches and religious organisations to change their minds in future without having to go back to Parliament. We are urging the Government to change their plans. 

"Parliament has legislated on marriage for 400 years, making sure the way the state recognises long term loving relationships remains relevant and reflects our sense of justice and equality in a modern society.

"David Cameron was right to support same sex marriage. He must not be deterred now by opposition within his own party and beyond."