The Liberal Democrats will debate changing the system of marriage and civil partnerships at the party's main annual conference this September. The motion, tabled by Lib Dems for LGBT Action (Delga), would open up both systems of partnership recognition to couples regardless of gender. It would resolve many issues with the current system, such as the restriction on religious groups using their places of worship for civil partnership ceremonies, the lack of recognition of same-sex marriages conducted abroad, and the forced divorce-and-remarriage that transsexual people face when their gender is legally recognised through a GRC.
The motion will be debated on the Tuesday morning of party conference.
The motion reads:
F35 Equal Marriage in United Kingdom
Conference notes that:
i) At present no two individuals of the same sex may enter into a marriage in the United Kingdom,and that no two individuals of mixed sex may enter into a civil partnership.
ii) Under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act (2004) any individual seeking gender recognition or to change their gender as legally recognised cannot remain in a marriage or civil partnership.
Conference recognises that:
a) The Deputy Prime Minister, and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, said in Pink News on 1 7th February 2010: 'I support gay marriage. Love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another'.
b) The moves by the new coalition government to allow ceremonies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender couples to be performed in religious buildings are very much welcomed.
c) Whether someone believes in marriage, civil partnership or commitment, any religious organisation or building whether a church, mosque or temple which chooses to have civil partnerships celebrated at their religious places of worship will be in the future able to do so.
d) To grant rights to one group of individuals which are denied to others based on sexual orientation and gender is unconscionable.
e) The current arrangements with regards to marriage are discriminatory in nature.
f) Non-UK same-sex marriages are currently equated to civil partnership in the UK, not marriage.
Conference believes that as stated in the preamble to the party's constitution, we 'exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community' and 'reject all prejudice and discrimination' including those issues which relate to gender and sexual orientation.
Conference therefore calls on the British government to:
1. Open both marriage and civil partnerships to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples.
2. To allow approved religious and humanist celebrants to legally solemnise and celebrate same-sex marriage and civil partnerships in places of religious worship.
3. To allow those individuals who wish to seek gender recognition or change their legally recognised gender to remain in their current marriage or civil partnership without changing any legal requirements.
4. To establish a simplistic process by which any existing civil partnership may be converted into a marriage or vice-versa without the need to dissolve the civil partnership or proceed with a divorce.
5. To automatically recognise all non-UK same-sex marriages as marriage in the UK, and to subsequently remove non-UK same-sex marriages from the current schedule which equates them to civil partnerships in the UK.
6. To continue to maintain the schedule equating non-UK same-sex civil unions or registered partnerships as civil partnerships in the UK.
7. To add non-UK opposite-sex civil unions or registered partnerships to the schedule equating them to Civil Partnerships in the UK.
8. To openly promote and encourage recognition of same-sex marriage and civil partnerships across the European Union, especially in countries where currently no laws exist.