Tag: Gay Marriage Legislation

Changes to existing matrimonial law being considered by the House of Lords

The Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords last week. The Bill is a Private Members Bill introduced by Baroness Deech (Crossbench) and proposes to replace section 25 (2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Setting out the proposals to the Bill, Baroness Deech explained:

‘The purpose of this Bill is to reform the law relating to the splitting of assets on divorce.  The current law is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, section 25, which has not been thoroughly debated by Parliament for 40 years despite radical changes in society and families, and which has been the subject of calls for reform from the Law Commission, Resolution and the Centre for Social Justice. Reform is urgent because the law is uncertain. It is largely judge-made law, which bears little resemblance to the statute. Judicial discretion has led to unpredictability and conflicting decisions, which make it hard for parties to negotiate and lead to disproportionate costs. Legal aid has been removed and parties of modest means are left unrepresented with little guidance as to the right outcome. The Bill would implement provisions very similar to those of Scottish law, and the laws of most European and North American states. It would introduce as a fair starting point the equal division of all the property and pensions acquired by the couple after marriage; provision for short term maintenance; flexibility to allow the home to be retained for the carer and children; and binding prenuptial agreements. This is intended to facilitate mediation, reduce litigation and costs, and recognise equal partnership in marriage.’

The Bill is a long way off becoming law and may not even make it onto the statute books at all.

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Vatican Softens On Divorce But Not Gay Marriage

There are signs that the Catholic Church is beginning to soften its stance on a range of issues including divorce but there remains a strong conservative undercurrent.

While divorce continues to be something that is far from welcomed by the Catholic church, it should come as some relief that the church will look into divorcees receiving communion even if they will do so on a case by case basis.

Even this move was passed by just a single vote as Pope Francis set about turning the Catholic church into what he describes as a “field hospital for wounded souls.”
The issue of gay marriage, however, remains a contentious one with bishops strongly opposed to gay marriage. A total of 270 Catholic bishops gathered for debates which took 90 hours to complete with 400 speeches related to the pastoral care of Catholic families.

The issue of divorce for Catholic couples has historically been a barrier to unhappy couples divorcing from partners who may have been abusive. Remaining trapped in those marriages by their religion is not something that progressive members of the church see as an option.

Allowing people to take communion after going through a divorce is seen as a highly significant step in removing barriers to participation in services. Millions of people who may have felt excluded following a divorce which not have been wholly their fault will now be looking forward to the possibility of having a full role in the life of their church.

Gay couples on the other hand will probably have longer to wait for any sign of acceptance in the Catholic church.

US Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States

In a 5-4 majority decision, the Supreme Court made it legal for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. Prior to this decision, only 37 states permitted same-sex marriage. Following this decision, the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage will no longer be able to enforce them. It has been reported that same-sex couples in the affected states including Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Texas rushed to get married on Friday 26th June.

President Barack Obama has said the ruling was a ‘victory for America’ and tweeted that day stating ‘Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins’.

Justice Anthony Kennedy in delivering his opinion for the majority stated that the right to marry was ‘based on history, tradition and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond’. Although many were delighted, the Supreme Court decision has also angered many opponents of gay marriage.

The case considered by the Supreme Court concerned Mr Obergefell, who lived in Ohio, and was not recognised as the legal widower of his late husband. In recent years, a number of legal rulings and a dramatic shift in public opinion has expanded gay marriage in the United States and this decision reinforces this shift in opinion.

The Times reports on Gay marriage exemption for churches

According to a report in The Times, Churches will be able to opt out of the up coming gay marriage legislation.

The legislation, due for publication next year, will apparently include an explicit exemption for churches allowing them to refuse to host gay marriage ceremonies should they choose to.

This has been introduced in response to concerns that churches were probably set to lose any legal action launched, should they refuse.