A draft Equal Marriage Bill?

Those lovely folk over at Stonewall have published a draft same-sex marriage bill. The clue is in the name – it’s just same-sex marriage, not equal marriage. It’s telling that the real content is just two sides of A4, with lots of space on the page. I think the Trans community’s version would be longer, just for the basics.

Brainstorming, what would people like to see in a proper equal marriage bill?

For starters, here’s what I have:

  • Same-sex marriage, both civil and religious
  • Opposite-sex civil partnerships (Emma Brownbill points out that this is also a Trans issue, due to stealth concerns)
  • A process for converting historical Marriages/Civil Partnerships (Only those before passage of the Bill) to the other form
  • An end to requiring divorce/annulment to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, (GRC) and by extension, ability to obtain updated marriage/divorce certificates when you also get a GRC.
  • Legally (Including in contract law) regard all marriages annulled under the Gender Recognition Act and then re-entered into as being continuous. (This has implications for pensions and similar)
  • Some recognition of poly relationships to be able to get the same rights and responsibilities as others? (I have no idea how one would write this as primary legislation!)

I have probably missed loads…


  1. – Same-sex marriage, both civil and religious

    No, equal marriage, between two people no matter their ‘sex’ and a separation between the civil and religious elements (i.e. it a civil ‘thing’ but religions can carryout a civil service within their own religious ceremony)

    – A process for converting historical Marriages/Civil Partnerships (Only those before passage of the Bill) to the other form

    All marriages would become the same under the above proposal at the point the bill became law

    – GRC (not my strong point)

    under the above, it becomes a marriage beween two individuals so the abstraction of gender identity removes these requirements (I think)

    – Poly

    okay replace two with ‘N’ (pensions/rights transfer post death is going to be the bit that makes this difficult)

    The problem I have with all this stuff is people trying to shoehorn relationships into what happened before. It would be much better to create an ideal state and then work out how to migrate the existing situation to a new state..

    1. Some people very much want to keep civil partnerships, (And would object to being automatically granted a “marriage”) hence including both. Perhaps make the legal status of both the same but just issue certificates with your choice of wording on the top? In practice, primary legislation could just instruct the civil servants they need to sort it out and grant any necessary powers to the General Register Office or Secretary of State.

  2. Good points all.

    Although I’m in favour of a legal framework for poly marriage though I think it is going to be tricky to come up with a good one; probably better to push ahead with gender-neutral marriage and CP and tackle adding more people later.

    Fixing the bullshit with needing to annul marriages to get a GRC is very important. That Stonewall could neglect to include that is really telling 🙁

  3. Removing the part of the Matrimonial Causes Act (as amended by the Gender Recognition Act) that makes “my partner has a GRC and I wouldn’t have been able to marry them if they didn’t but now I don’t want to be married to a trans person!” a legitimate reason for annulling a marriage would be nice. Though hopefully, making marriage gender-neutral would fix that.

    Ensuring both certificates and official wording of the civil ceremony are gender neutral would be good too.

  4. What about those who are Intersex?

    See http://www.intersexions.org/n1853-intersex-and-marriage

    “She did not in fact marry a male but a combination of both male and female and notwithstanding that the husband exhibited as a male, he was in fact not”

    …I have no hesitation in saying that the definition of`marriage” as understood in Christendom is the voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all other for life.

    I am satisfied on the evidence that the husband was neither man nor woman but was a combination of both, and a marriage in the true sense of the word as within the definition referred to above could not have taken place and does not exist.”

    Family Law > Australian Family Law Cases > 1979 CASES > In the marriage of C and D (falsely called C).

    Neither a mixed-sex nor same-sex marriage can be entered into.

    My own medical condition (CAH due to 3BHDD) is not quite the same as this case (CAH due to 21HD), but very similar. Like the husband, I was brought up as male, and looked male – mostly. More than him in some respects, less so in others.

    Now, just a few days before our 31st wedding anniversary, it seems that due to this old case, our marriage is a nullity.

    Also, because I’m Intersex, the GRA doesn’t apply, and I can’t get my UK Birth Certificate corrected, all the old caselaw that was more sympathetic was rendered null and void by the GRA.

    Somehow I think this is so far below Stonewall’s radar horizon, they haven’t given the possibility that such situations could exist a single moment’s thought. I fear that if they did know, they wouldn’t care one whit more than they do now.

    1. Ouch, that’s nasty. As far as I’m aware there’s no similar case law in the UK but making gender not matter for both marriage and civil partnerships would clarify this, because it would not matter what gender anyone involved is regarded as.

      Of course, that doesn’t fix the GRA issue. I’m not sure if anyone has yet looked at what wording would be required to fix this?

  5. No wording needed. It was an administrative decision by lawyers with no medical training to interpret the undefined term “gender dysphoria” in the legislation to mean “meeting the diagnostic criteria for Transsexuality in the ICD-10”. Which excludes Intersex people such as Caroline Cossey.

    Much as the way “registered medical practitioner” in the legislation has been successively re-defined by caselaw as being “registered with the BMC”, and then “licensed to practice and thus practising within the UK”.

    For those living in jurisdictions where gender-recognition legislation only affects those born there, not in the UK, it effectively prevents anyone being able to gather the medical evidence required. The same in Jurisdictions not on “the list”, such as Australia.

    I’m legally recognised as female in Australia, but not having been born in any of the states here, there’s no means of legal recognition by those states – the states are on the list, the country is not.

    Hence in order to get my birth certificate corrected, I need to show a) I’m not Intersex and b) Have a series of periodic appointments, probably over at least a year, with medics on the other side of the planet.

    Or I can get two doctors present at my birth (in 1958, at home, attended only by a midwife) to attest that I didn’t look mostly male at the time.

  6. Marriage is a very special and sacred event for all. Thus, ensuring that everything is put into place is very important. Having a law or a system to dictate the status sounds pretty tricky. But I somehow agree and hope that a proper framework would be worked out soon enough.

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