In the most blatant piece of yellow journalism I have witnessed since… well… the last time I read the same newspaper, the Daily Mail has announced that due to what it perceives as a flaw in the new Equal Marriages bill, Pagan Weddings could be legalised in England and Wales. NB: in the mentality of the Daily Mail, this is supposedly a Bad Thing.
At the moment, if you want to have a Pagan wedding in England or Wales, you are obliged to come to an arrangement which is common on the continent of Europe, i.e. have two wedding ceremonies – the first being the kind that you would ideally want as a ceremony, but with a second which consists of a quick ten-minute jobbie down the Registrar’s office on Monday morning to actually make it legal. Now it so happens that Christian churches almost always have their own registrar to attend their marriages which is why a Christian couple only needs the one ceremony. Thus: if a Pagan religion were allowed to have the same arrangement, this would spare Pagan couples the extra expense and bureaucracy as well.
Needless to say, however, the true situation is far more complicated.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the amendment to the Equal Marriages bill which is the source of the controversy applies only to Humanists – not to other named groups. The Daily Mail therefore has conveniently pulled some “anonymous government sources” out of its arse to supposedly say that “ridiculous” (sic) sects like pagans and even Jedis could mount a legal challenge to the Act on the basis of some sort of human rights discrimination type bullshit and force the recognition of their own ceremonies as well.
“But what,” I hallucinate that I hear my many millions of pagan (and even Jedi) readers say, “would be wrong with that?”
As far as the Daily Mail is concerned, everything. As far as people whose opinions count, however, there is a more subtle objection. In an ideal world, members of any religion ought not to have to resort to litigation – which may prove costly, time-consuming and stressful – to vindicate their basic rights. Therefore the best solution is not to have to resort to a dodgy legal challenge, but to actually have the right to marriage written in the black and white of the statute.
So come on, Members of Parliament! And Peers as well! The bill is currently before Parliament and you have the power to propose a suitably worded amendment which would allow such groups to conduct proper ceremonies. Search your feelings – you know it to be true.