Next Left has consistently supported Waheed Alli's amendment to the Equality Bill which would allow those religious groups who wish it to register civil partnerships on their premises. Although the amendment passed in the House of Lords recently, by an overwhelming majority, there is now a real danger that the amendment will be lost in the so-called 'wash up' period in Parliament prior to the election.
Iain McLean and Diarmaid Macculloch have a letter in today's Times urging MPs to keep the civil partnerships amendment alive.
The letter points out that the government has now accepted the amendment. Conservative intentions remain unclear.
I reproduce the letter here:
On February 23 you published our letter, signed also by several senior Anglicans, urging the House of Lords to support Lord Alli’s amendment to permit civil partnerships to be held on the premises of Quakers, Liberal Judaism and Unitarians. You also published a powerful leader, “Equal before God”, in support of our letter.
Lord Alli’s amendment was carried in a free vote by 95 to 21 in the face of opposition from both front benches. Several speakers quoted our letter or your leader. The Government has now accepted it, but if the Equality Bill is incomplete at the dissolution of Parliament, it goes into what politicians call “wash-up”. Only the parts acceptable to both main parties survive; the rest fall.
We hope that, as they start to campaign for the general election, they will all give an express promise to protect the amendment.
Iain McLean, FBAProfessor of Politics, University of Oxford
Diarmaid Macculloch, FBAProfessor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford'