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Report examines the case for equal marriage

In the first detailed examination of the pros and cons of same sex marriage, the authors of a paper published by think tank Policy Exchange argue that the balance of argument favours equal marriage.

The report – 'What’s In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage?' – looks at the social, historic and legal arguments for and against gay marriage.

Examining the arguments for, the report finds that:

  • Marriage is a beneficial institution. Married couples are more faithful, make more money and are generally healthier than cohabitees or single people.
  • Children benefit from being raised in a married household. Only 8% of children born into a married household sees their parents split up before the age of five compare to 52% born into a cohabiting household.
  • The State has intervened on a number of occasions to alter the nature of marriage; by introducing civil marriages; by allowing Jews, Quakers and Catholics to marry under their own faith; by introducing divorce laws. Extending marriage to include gay and lesbian people would be consistent with the history of marriage.

Examining the arguments against, the report finds that:

  • Countries which have introduced equal marriage have not seen changes in the stability of heterosexual marriage.
  • None of the countries that have already introduced same sex marriage have forced religious bodies to perform gay marriages. However, legal safeguards need to be introduced to prevent judicial activism from forcing religious organisations to marry gay couples.
  • It is not the case that only the “metropolitan elite” is in favour of equal marriage. The highest levels of support are in the North East of England (81%), Yorkshire (70%), the West Midlands and London (69%).

The report recommends:

  • Same sex couples should be allowed to marry and given the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples.
  • Religious bodies or institutions should not be forced to carry out same sex marriages on their premises.
  • Religious bodies or institutions should be allowed to ‘opt in’ if they wish to carry out a same sex marriage on their premises.
  • A fast track should be provided for existing civil partners who wish to transfer to full marriage.
  • Once equal marriage has been introduced, no new civil partnerships should be created.


175 years of civil registration
Cafcass publishes its 2011-12 Annual Report

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