The States of Jersey are currently asking for comments from the public on proposals for an equal marriage and partnership law. They have published a consultation paper, which can be downloaded here.
The consultation process closes on 22 October 2014 and the Chief Minister will report to the States in November 2014.
What the consultation does not do is ask whether a respondent is in favour of same-sex marriage. As far as the consultation is concerned that argument has been had and the island has to move on. Same-sex marriage is going to happen. It is now a question of how. The consultation paper offers a number of options for equal marriage and tackles a couple of other inequalities in current marriage law at the same time.
The consultation document is quite weighty but it is well-written and researched. It is also progressive in its thinking and doesn’t just copy what other jurisdictions have done. It offers three options for same-sex marriage:
- Same-sex civil marriage only
- Same-sex civil marriage and same-sex religious marriage
- Same-sex and opposite-sex civil marriage only (also known as civil union)
All three options provide a means for someone to transition within a marriage without having to dissolve an existing union. Trans* Jersey is most keen to ensure that any legislation brought in does not contain the so-called Spousal Veto that is enshrined within the England and Wales Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and that, should option 1 or 2 be adopted, any law is modeled on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.
The other section of specific interest to trans* islanders is part D that deals with adultery as grounds for divorce. As people who may or may not have the genitals that are expected of a man or woman, the legal definition of adultery doesn’t always make sense within a marriage in which one or both partners are trans*. In a farsighted move, the States are proposing either doing away with adultery as grounds for divorce or redefining adultery to include same-sex acts. Clearly, removing adultery altogether is the simpler option here.
We have requested involvement in any forum convened by the States to discuss the proposed legislation and were involved in the first round of meetings on 29 July 2014.
Whilst Trans* Jersey encourages you to complete the online survey, we would also like to receive your comments about the States’ proposal regarding equal marriage and partnerships.
We believe that by speaking together as a group of trans* islanders our comments on the consultation will carry more weight.
Our partner organisation Liberate’s Jersey group has already responded and you can read their response here.
We therefore invite you to email us with your comments, suggestions, thoughts or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org