the friend online
05 June 2009


Committed partnerships and marriage: the issue is equality not ‘what people do in bed’ - preview

Gill Coffin examines the need for our testimony to equality to be the basis for discussion at YMG

Lesbian, gay and bisexual Quakers, meeting at the end of April, were united in the view that Britain Yearly Meeting’s response to the recognition of same-sex committed partnerships must be focused on equality and not on ‘what people do in bed’
  • The planned sessions at Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) on the celebration of committed relationships, their status and their relationship to marriage should take place in the context of our Quaker testimony to equality

  • Believing that lesbian and gay partnerships are ‘marriages in all but name’, we welcomed the proposal from Meeting for Sufferings to revise Quaker faith & practice (Qf&p) to ensure equal support for committed partnerships and marriages in Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM)
  • We hoped, however, that there would be recognition of the discrimination that is enshrined in the law
  • Quaker Registering Officers can register a marriage but not a civil partnership, and a civil partnership may not legally be registered in a religious building and no religious language or symbolism may be included in the ceremony
  • We recalled George Fox’s words: ‘For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests’ or magistrates’; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; – it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses

  • Gill Coffin

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