By Rabbi Aaron Gol...
March 3, 2010
Liberal Judaism welcomes the new amendment to the Equality Bill, which will lift the ban on Civil Partnerships being held in religious buildings. The vote was passed in the House of Lords on Tuesday 2nd March, by 95 votes to 21.
The ban on holding civil partnerships in religious buildings was introduced by the Civil Partnerships Act (2004). The new amendment will not force religious movements to hold civil partnerships in their buildings. It simply allows those who wish to do so to register their premises for the conduct of civil partnerships. It does not allow ministers of religion to officiate over the civil partnership itself.
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Joint Chair of the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism, said: “We are delighted that our synagogues are now able to host civil partnerships at the same time as same-sex commitment blessings. It is another step towards full equality for gay men and lesbians. My community is looking forward to being able to celebrate its first ever Jewish spiritual blessing together with the English legal ceremony, and to enjoying the whole simcha onsite.”
Speaking in the Lords, Baroness Neuberger, President of Liberal Judaism, said, “This is about what we in this chamber can do to ensure the happiness not only of the couples involved but also, as I said in committee and I speak as a Jewish mother, of the parents involved. It will make a lot of difference to them. We should not underestimate this. This does not weaken marriage. It is not about marriage. It is about civil partnership between people who are religiously faithful and wish to recognise that religious faith after a civil partnership."
Quakers and Unitarians also joined Liberal Judaism in supporting the amendment when it was proposed by Lord Waheed Alli.