Monday, 7 January 2013

New type of marriage could be created in Scotland as government propose 'belief' weddings

A NEW type of marriage could be introduced in Scotland under plans aimed at reflecting the growing popularity of ceremonies such as humanist weddings.
The Scottish Government wants to create a third category of marriage, called "belief" marriages, as an alternative to religious and civil ceremonies.
Plans to enshrine the new category in statute are set out in a consultation paper on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, which also contains proposals to introduce same-sex marriage.
Last year, 2486 couples were married by humanist celebrants in Scotland, well up from the 82 couples who did so in 2005.
Some 1729 couples chose to be married by the Catholic Church last year, and the Church of Scotland joined 5557 couples in marriage over the same period.
Currently, there are two types of marriage ceremony in Scotland - civil and religious.
Since June 2005, celebrants belonging to the Humanist Society of Scotland have been authorised on a temporary basis to solemnise marriage.
Such marriages have been classed as "religious" under marriage law, despite the beliefs of such organisations being non-religious - a situation the draft Bill aims to alter.
Under the proposals, the arrangements for authorising belief celebrants would be along the same lines as those for authorising religious celebrants.
The proposals also set out the arrangements for authorising belief celebrants to solemnise same-sex marriage.
"The system will be opt-in and bodies and celebrants will have to choose to take part in same-sex ceremonies," the document states.
Tim Maguire, of the Humanist Society of Scotland, who carries out weddings, reportedly welcomed the proposal.
He said: "It was this slightly strange situation that humanists' ceremonies were being counted, if you like, in the same (religious) category, but clearly we're rather different.
"We're neither civil, nor religious, but humanism is a belief so it recognises that. I think it's a recognition of the extraordinary growth in popularity of the ceremonies."
Humanists believe, among other things, that people do not need a deity to determine what might be ethical or appropriate.
A Scottish Government spokewoman said: "The Scottish Government is committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships.
"Humanist weddings are currently classed as religious. However, our current consultation on same-sex marriage proposes the establishment of a new form of marriage ceremony called 'belief', which would cover humanists.
"The Humanist Society Scotland are in favour of introducing same-sex marriage."


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