Tuesday 13 November 2018
Rules dictating how and where people can get married will be relaxed if the States of Deliberation supports proposals submitted by the Policy & Resources Committee.
The Committee wants to reform the outdated 1919 Marriage Law and its proposals were the subject of public consultation during the summer - with the majority of respondents supportive of the changes.
Proposals outlined in the policy letter outline a change of approach that gives couples greater flexibility. These include:
- Allowing marriage ceremonies to take place in more locations, including outdoors, in territorial waters and in Bailiwick airspace. However, civil ceremonies will not be able to be held in places of worship.
- Ceremonies can be held at any time of the day, subject to the agreement of the chosen celebrant.
- Limited religious content being allowed in civil and non-religious belief ceremonies.
- Allowing more people to legally conduct ceremonies, including non-religious belief celebrants such as Humanists.
- Removing the need to make the location of the ceremony accessible and open to the public, so couples can hold private ceremonies should they wish - except in outdoor locations where the public have free access.
- The content of marriage certificates will be changed to include the recognition - should couples wish - of both parents, regardless of gender. This will make marriage documentation more inclusive.
The proposals may be debated by the Assembly as soon as 12th December 2018.
Deputy Gavin St Pier, Policy & Resources Committee President, said:
'The Committee is delighted to have developed a set of forward-thinking, modern proposals that reform marriage in a way that has the support of the majority of the community. We set out to ensure that changes made the process of getting married simpler and more inclusive, whilst ensuring that government fulfils its role and provides effective safeguards to protect any vulnerable parties from forced, illegal or sham marriages.
'We understand that the issue of how and where people get married is important to the community, and reforming the law is the right thing to do. We look forward to presenting these proposals to the States in December.'
Deputy Jane Stephens, Policy & Resources Committee member who leads on social policy, said:
'We have been working collaboratively with colleagues from across the States to develop these strong set of proposals for change, including HM Greffier, officers from Marketing & Tourism, Immigration, St James' Chambers and interested members of the community. Through these proposals we aim to address the issues raised by different groups within the community and at the same time give couples more control, freedom and choice over how the most important day of many people's lives is conducted.'
The public can access the Policy Letter report via www.gov.gg/marriagelaw.