Couple's same-sex marriage in 2006 is now legal at last

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Rob and Owen Claxton-Ingham Rob and Owen Claxton-Ingham

One couple have special cause to celebrate the legalising of same-sex marriages today.

For it means the wedding of Rob and Owen Claxton-Ingham in Canada in 2006, is now recognised in the UK.

The Otley pair wed in Canada because they could not marry in Britain at that time.

Now, the national Quaker movement says it ‘rejoices’ with the two men as same-sex marriage became law at midnight.

Elsewhere in the Bradford area, there was a mixed reception for the move. A Conservative MP voiced his fears for religious freedom, while a spokesman for gay organisation Bradford Pride described the new law as ‘a landmark moment’.

At Bradford and Keighley Register Office, though, there were no bookings for a same-sex wedding today. A spokesman said: “We have nothing booked for Saturday in this district and there is no information regarding the next few days ahead.”

Rob and Owen Claxton-Ingham met in 1992 at a gathering for young Quakers and ten years later adopted two children. They say that, for them, marriage is a ‘spiritual and emotional experience’.

“It was important for us to make that commitment within an act of worship,” said Rob.

Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, said many Quakers ‘have been longing for this day’. “Quakers see God in everyone and that leads us to say we are all born equal and our love is of equal worth too,” he said.

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, reiterated his opposition to the law. He voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill when it came before Parliament last year.

“This is not something I support,” he said. “But I am a democrat and believe in a parliamentary democracy. I was in a minority and the Bill went through. I wish those who do get married under this law and who are now perfectly entitled to do so every success for the future. There is nothing personal here. It is simply a policy I don’t support.

“And that view is basically about religious freedom. What I fear in particular is that one day churches will be forced against their will to marry same-sex couples. That would be an intolerable situation.

“I support the freedom of the churches and time will tell on this. Lots of people in the Church of England resist this policy and I defend the rights of those who take a different religious view.”

Richard Scullion of Bradford Pride said: “We welcome this huge step forward towards equality. It is a landmark moment for many loving couples who have been denied equality and discriminated against.”

Mr Scullion said he was not aware of any local couples planning to marry at this stage, but said: “I am sure many will be taking advantage of the new law in due course.”

A number of religious groups have welcomed the law. Faiths other than Quakers which will marry same-sex couples include Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism.

The issue has divided the Church of England, but the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has hinted that the Church will no longer resist gay marriage among churchgoers.

Last month, bishops tried to ban clergy from marrying same-sex partners, sparking criticism from more liberal Christians who support the change.

The Archbishop said yesterday that the Church should react on Saturday ‘by demonstrating in word and action the love of Christ for every human being’.

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