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Jersey debates gay marriage

Jersey debates gay marriage

Tuesday 08 July 2014

Jersey debates gay marriage

Tuesday 08 July 2014

Politicians are due to decide today if gay couples should be allowed to get married in Jersey. The proposal comes from newly-elected Deputy Sam Mézec, and has prompted various church groups to speak out against the move.

Although same-sex couples have been able to marry in the UK since March this year, Jersey’s legislation only allows civil partnerships. And if a married gay couple from elsewhere moves to Jersey, their relationship here is still only recognised as a civil partnership.

In his proposition, Deputy Mézec says: “I have lodged this proposition because I believe that the Chief Minister’s proposals to recognise UK same sex marriages as civil partnerships in Jersey do not go far enough.

“I believe that to welcome married same sex couples to Jersey by downgrading their relationship to a civil partnership does not accord their relationships the dignity and respect that they deserve from a community that is now far more accepting of same sex relationships than it was years ago. The time to introduce same sex marriage is now.”

He goes on to point out that: "When the States first decided in 2009 to accept the principle of civil partnerships, there were only 7 countries in the world that allowed same sex marriage. In 5 years, that number has more than doubled, with 16 countries now allowing same sex marriage (including our 2 closest neighbours, France and the UK)."

His proposition follows the UK legislation in allowing “civil marriages” in Jersey, so that religious institutions would not be forced to conduct gay marriages if they have an objection.

Two politicians are already seeking to amend his proposals. Firstly, the Treasury Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, only wants the change to be agreed after further public consultation, and to make it absolutely clear that religious groups won't be forced to comply. 

Then in a last-minute amendment, the Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand, wants the effect of allowing gay marriage to be studied first, either by a Scrutiny Panel, or the Chief Minister's Department. Senator Le Marquand is also a lay preacher:

"Although some denominations such as Catholics have for years drawn a distinction between what the State accepts as a valid marriage and what the Church accepts as a valid marriage, that has not been the position for the Church of England in Jersey, which has accepted civil marriage as marriage. Although there have been restrictions from time to time on allowing re-marriage in a Church of England Church, there has never to my knowledge been a division between what the State accepts as marriage and what the Church of England in Jersey accepts as marriage. In this context, the use of the term ‘civil marriage’ in the proposition is not helpful because there is no distinction in the Church of England in Jersey. This is going to create a very strange situation". 


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