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Civil Partnerships

In April 2014 the Church of England submitted a response to the Government's consultation document on the future of civil partnership. The response, which can be found here, was considered and approved by the Archbishops' Council and House of Bishops' Standing Committee as well as by both Archbishops.

The Equality Act 2010 removed the prohibition on the registration of civil partnerships in places of worship. In June 2011 the Church of England issued a response to the Government's consultation on this.

The response focuses on the need to give assurance that the forthcoming regulations continue to provide unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own convictions and its own internal procedures of governance. That means that there needs to be an 'opting in' mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.

In February 2007 the General Synod debated a Private Member's Motion from the Revd Paul Perkin on Civil Partnerships. Background papers GS Misc 843A and GS Misc 843B were prepared for the debate.

In the debate the Synod amended the motion and carried it in this form:

'That this Synod

(a)  acknowledge the diversity of views within the Church of England on whether Parliament might better have addressed the injustices affecting persons of the same sex wishing to share a common life had it done so in a way that avoided creating a legal framework with many similarities to marriage; and

(b)  note the intention of the House to keep their Pastoral Statement under review.'

On 25 July 2005 the House of Bishops had issued a pastoral statement to help the Church as it addresses the implications of the Civil Partnership Act. The Pastoral Statement and its accompanying press release can be viewed here.

The Queen's speech in November 2003 included legislation for a Civil Partnership Bill and introduced in the House of Lords in March 2004. A comprehensive summary of the speeches and votes by bishops in the House of Lords on civil partnership legislation from 2002 until the passing of the Civil Partnership Act in 2004 is available here.

In June 2003 the Women & Equality Unit of the DTI published its consultation paper on Civil Partnerships, outlining a framework for the legal recognition of 'same-sex interdependent, stable relationships that are intended to be permanent'. This was followed by the publication of the responses to Civil Partnerships in November 2003.

The Archbishops' Council's response to the Consultation paper can be read here.

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