Shuls prepare for same-sex marriages

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2014

The location of the first same-sex Jewish marriage is still to be revealed five weeks before new legislation permitting gay or lesbian couples to wed comes into force.

Religious groups can apply from March 13 to hold same-sex marriages on their premises, with the first ceremonies in theory able to take place after midnight Saturday March 29.

But, according to one council marriage registrar, the application process is likely to take longer than two weeks, making a Jewish same-sex wedding difficult before the end of next month.

Liberal Judaism said that it knew of couples planning to marry “later in the year” but so far none on the weekend when the new law comes into force.

West London Synagogue, of the Reform movement, has a same-sex chupah booked for early summer.

In addition, the daughter of West London’s senior rabbi, Julia Neuberger, Harriet, is to marry her girlfriend in a civil ceremony in the spring. West London has applied for a licence to hold civil weddings in its communal hall as civil marriages cannot be held in a religious sanctuary.

The synagogue had been expected to hold same-sex weddings earlier. But it is still waiting for clarification on how gay couples who have had a commitment ceremony can go on to get married. Clerics who do not wish to conduct same-sex weddings will be safe from legal action, according to the law.

Same-sex couples married by a Reform rabbi will need a get if they divorce.

“We regard same-sex marriages as fully equal and the requirements are the same,” said a Reform spokesman.

Last updated: 8:45am, February 21 2014