Really equal marriage: the Union Civile

This week Guernsey moved a step closer to equal marriage with a clever proposal for a Union Civile law that would remove religion from laws related to marriage. You can read more about the story here or visit Liberate’s website for more information about the work they have been doing.

ringsThe proposed law would mean that all those who wanted to marry would do so in a civil ceremony. Thus, in one bold stroke, all marriages between two people, irrespective of their sex or gender, would be equal in Guernsey. The ability to legally marry a couple would be removed from religious organisations, which would also remove the knotty question for people of faith as to whether their church should “allow” same-sex marriage.

Under the proposal, there would be nothing to stop a couple celebrating their wedding through a religious service after they had legally tied the knot civilly. Under current EU legislation, there is no means by which a religious organisation could be forced to offer a celebratory service to a same-sex couple if it is against their religious beliefs. This should satisfy the churches that the legislation does not stop them from celebrating marriages as they understand them in the way that they wish.

Trans* Jersey stated that we would be in favour of adopting the Scottish model for same-sex marriage legislation, but this new development from Guernsey is even better. It does away with the UK system of two laws, one for opposite-sex couples and one for same-sex couples, in favour of one law for everyone.

We are in favour of adopting Guernsey’s proposal here in Jersey as it would solve the problem that trans people have when they transition within a marriage. Under Guernsey’s proposal, the marriage stays intact and the transition has no effect on its status. This also resolves the problem, perceived by some, that a person’s transition alters or diminishes the partnership somehow. Under this proposal, there is no alteration of the partnership and, therefore, the spouse has no reason to require a veto to stop their partner’s transition.

Deputy Sam Mezec lodged a proposition with the States of Jersey this week to debate same-sex marriage in July. We will have to wait for more news on what Jersey’s proposed legislation will look like, but Trans* Jersey hopes that it will resemble Guernsey’s forward-thinking and elegantly simple proposal.

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