This is a longer version of a letter by Rabbi Zvi Solomons in The JC
I note the silence of my colleagues in the face of the Gay Marriage furore. This is understandable but avoids more serious issues which need fixing, whilst giving the impression that this does not apply to us as much as to other religious groups.
Civil recognition of Gay Marriage has been seen as lending homosexual marriage legitimacy. This could never be the case in Orthodox Judaism, but Marriage Law needs reform to take account of the failure to protect all those who opt out of the system altogether by contracting only a religious marriage without registering civilly. Likewise in other religions, except for the Quakers and the Church of England, there is no opportunity for civil registration at the time of the wedding. This means that Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many Christian weddings may not protect the bride and groom in the event of a marriage breakup. We call to mind George Galloway MP whose third, pregnant, wife is in religious limbo whilst he goes on to marry a fourth woman in a religious ceremony.
I propose a solution which would rid us of the sound and fury over this issue, whilst dealing with the current confusion in Marriage Law in the UK.
Let everyone be legally required to register a Civil Partnership regardless of how, to whom, or where they get married. This would bring equality in the Law without using a charged term, “marriage”, and restore marriage to its original place, at the heart of belief, leaving it up to every group to decide whether they wish to call it by that name, and to whom it may apply.