Equal Marriage consultation – first impressions


I just had a very quick initial scan of the Government’s response to the Equal Marriage consultation. (PDF Link) Headline issues of particular interest to Bi and Trans folk are as follows:

Civil partnerships will be retained, but open to same-sex couples only. This is disappointing, as it’s effectively giving same-sex couples more rights than mixed-sex couples. There is a legal challenge in the works already to try to open this up to mixed-sex couples, and presumably that will now go ahead.

Civil Partnerships (CPs) can be converted into marriages, either for transition or just because a couple wishes to do so. This will be required for those transitioning but already in a CP, because mixed-sex CPs will not be allowed. Conversion due to transition will become part of the Gender Recognition process, but will require written consent of the spouse as well as the transitioning person. Once an interim Gender Recognition Certificate has been obtained, the choice is either to convert to marriage or go through the current system and annul the existing marriage.

The handling of paperwork on transition, e.g. would a replacement marriage certificate be issued still showing the initial marriage date, is still up for discussion.

In an announcement that I know will upset a great many people, marriages stolen under the old system of forced-divorce will not be reinstated.

Interestingly, 3% of respondents indirectly stated they were Trans and married, a surprisingly high proportion. Another 3% were identified as being spouses. In both cases, 79% of people said they would like to use the option to retain their existing marriage.

Opposite sex couples will continue to be able to annul their marriage on the grounds of non-consummation. This may be of particular interest to some non-op Trans folk as well as other groups, such as those with disabilities where consummation is physically impossible and both people knew it when they got married.

And finally, the one you’ll no doubt read in the mainstream sources: Religious (Not just civil, as I’d initially thought from earlier statements) marriage in religious premises will be allowed as long as both the minister and the wider church agree to it.

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  1. #1 by naath on 11 December 2012 - 16:43

    I’m a bit confused about the possibility to annul for “non consumation”. I mean, I’m all for people being able to dissolve their marriages because they don’t want to be married any more… but I’m not really seeing why this needs a separate law, rather than just having a law that says you can get a divorce if you want one?

    The non-restitution of confiscated marriages is baffling and deeply unfair.

    • #2 by Zoe O'Connell on 11 December 2012 - 16:47

      I think it’s one of those things that’s only in there because it’s always been there. (Religious marriage-is-for-creating-kids thing) As it affects relatively few people, there’s never been the political will to remove it.

  2. #3 by Paula on 11 December 2012 - 17:35

    End of your para 3 above…..

    Is it that the IGRC will only be issued if the trans applicant is in a CP?

    I assume if the applicant is married then a GRC will be awarded and the existence of this can be used by either party to annul the marriage?

    Is there a solid reason why the stolen marriages cannot be simply reinstated or, if an application for a conversion is made, the date on the new marriage certificate can’t be the date of the original marriage, provided that in the interim, the couple formed a CP after GR?

    • #4 by Zoe O'Connell on 11 December 2012 - 17:56

      I think they still have to work out the details on how it’d all work in practice – I guess you’d have to apply for an IGRC either if you’re CPed or if your partner did not want to remain married/CPed post-GRC. Then that can be used to convert or annul if you wanted a full GRC as appropriate.

      The civil service have not yet given any real reason why it’s not possible to reinstate/backdate the old marriages.

  3. #5 by Paula on 11 December 2012 - 17:52

    Just read the full document linked in your post. Non trans spouse must agree that the marriage should continue. If she does not, an IGRC will be issued to be used to end marriage.

  4. #6 by Richard Gadsden on 12 December 2012 - 08:48

    Note that some religious marriages do not have to be on religious premises.

    Quaker and Jewish marriages are “according to the usages” of those religions. Quakers can conduct marriages outside of their Meetings-Houses, and occasionally they have used their powers (to grant a marriage according to whatever rules they decide themselves) to marry non-Quakers who can’t marry in any other way – e.g. non-CofE people in hospitals before the exemptions for civil marriages were brought in.

    Quakers and Jews are the only people who can conduct marriages outside, for example.

(will not be published)


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