Saturday 29th March saw the first same-sex marriages take place in the UK.
The controversial legislation that received Royal Ascent back in July 2013 is now being brought into play.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, felt that the move sent a message that people were now equal, and Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, was quoted: "Britain will be a different place."
But with all this talk of equality and tolerance, one thing that appears to be overlooked is the fact that the bill allows religious organisations to "opt in," with the exception of the Church of England and the Church of Wales, regardless of their religious structure not agreeing with the lifestyle.
Scotland passed a similar law on same-sex marriages in February, these are expected to begin in October, while Northern Ireland have no plans to follow suit.
Marriage today is not one of a religious experience, within a society that has less people labelling themselves under a religious organisation, it has become more a cultural/spiritual experience, or status symbol.
Personally, I support same-sex marriages. I feel that gender equality is an important issue and all couples should have the right to marry, without the patronising term "civil partnership."
Marriage status should be given in all legal requirements to couples wanting it and they should be allowed to be married anywhere licensed.
However, to force a religious organisation that are openly opposed to same-sex marriage, to allow it in the church, makes a mockery of their belief system.
I personally am not religious, if I chose to marry I would not be hoping to marry in a church as I feel it would be hypocritical and insulting to the Church, as I do not live a Christian lifestyle.
I also do not understand why a group would want to be associated with another that openly hates their lifestyle.
Before the bill was introduced, the legal definition of marriage was the union between a man and a woman. When the bill was amended to allow same-sex marriage all that needed to be done was change the definition to a union between two people (whether that's a man and woman, a woman and woman, or a man and man.)
What did not have to happen was to force a religious ceremony upon a group that not only oppose but also view it as a sin:
"Leviticus 20:13 - If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them." King James Bible.
In Judaism same-sex relationships are forbidden by the Torah, examples can be seen in the book of Vayiqra (Leviticus), with an example quoted above, as the first testament of the bible shares many of the same books as the Torah. In traditional Jewish Law (Halakha) homosexual relations are subject to capital punishment.
This view is one that is still kept by Orthodox Jews, however, some modern Jewish dominations have taken a more liberal approach to same-sex marriage and relations, with some recognising the holy union. Under the current legislation these groups would be allowed to opt in if they chose.
Islam also does not accept same-sex relations. Within their religion it is not only a sin but it is also an offence to Sharia Law (islamic law): Qur'an (7:80-84) - "...For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.... And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)"
In Sikhism Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the complete guide to life and salvation. Marriage between two of the same sex is not mentioned, therefore leading some Sikhs to believe that it is not right.
It also mentioned that this spiritual unity is between a man and a woman, therefore same-sex marriage is not conducted.
With all this talk of tolerance and equality, and following what David Cameron said about the bill: "It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth."
We are also a nation that is tolerant of religious beliefs. Meaning that this bill has given Catholics, the religious groups stated above, along with all other religious groups and other Christian groups the option to "opt in" to the bill. The Church of England and the Church of Wales have not been given the choice. Regardless of their system being opposed.
Tolerance does not mean you have to like something. It means that you're accepting it, or even just putting up with it, regardless if it bothers you.
Equal rights for everybody within a civilised society is an important matter. The Gay community are one that have had hard times, homosexuality was illegal just over half a century ago, and has not been tolerated over the years since.
It's fantastic that society has got to a point where Same-sex marriage is recognised and a part of British Law.
But it does not make sense to be intolerant of one group in order to be "tolerant" of the other. When religion does not have to come into marriage as such.
Marriage can take place anywhere in the United Kingdom that can be licensed and with a registrar. As I said, I am not a religious man, my choice would not be to marry in a church.
However, if I did, I would have to prove my commitment to the clergy. This could take a long time and a lot of effort, including giving money to the church, at the end of which I could still be rejected if they deem I am not Christian enough!Suggest a correction