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Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities, commenting on the Government’s equal civil marriage consultation, said:
“The Labour Party strongly supports same sex marriage and I welcome the Government's consultation. People who love each other and want to make a long term commitment to each other should be able to get married. As a society we should support and celebrate that commitment. I hope the Government will now put legislation into the Queens Speech so we can build strong support across all parties in Parliament and pass these changes into law in the next twelve months.
“Some religious leaders have expressed strong opposition to these proposals. Whilst I respect their right to hold such views, I wholeheartedly disagree with them and I hope that the debate can be conducted in a respectful way without some of the inflammatory language we have seen.
“There was similar opposition to civil partnerships when we introduced them seven years ago, yet many people of all faiths now respect and support civil partnerships.
“No one is proposing that churches should be obliged to hold same sex marriages. That is rightly ruled out in this consultation. Religious marriages are a matter for each church and denomination, not for the Government.
“But equally the Government should go further than they currently plan. At the moment Theresa May has ruled out allowing any church to conduct a same sex marriage. I believe that is the wrong approach. If we really support the institution of marriage and want to welcome more people into it, then Government and Parliament should not deny the Quakers, the Unitarians and other churches who want to celebrate gay marriage the chance to do so.
“This is an important opportunity to demonstrate the value of love and commitment in relationships, whatever someone's sexuality and gender.”