The document I sent to Mr Cela
Only a marriage service conducted under the provisions of the Marriage Act 1949 can be regarded as Legal and valid. All other services (religious or otherwise) are not considered as valid and legal and the participants of such a non-legal marriage are not afforded the protection and rights offered to the participants of a Legal and valid marriage.
The Registrars Service have decreed that where a marriage is to take place with a religious (or other) service then the Civil Marriage must take place first. I understand that the Marriage Act (1949) Section 46 is considered as justification for this position.
The Marriage Act (1949) Section 46
Civil Ceremony marriage followed by religious ceremony:
(1)If the parties to a marriage desire to add the religious ceremony ordained or used by the church or persuasion of which they are members, they may present themselves, after giving notice of their intention so to do, to the clergyman or minister of the church or persuasion of which they are members, and the clergyman or minister, upon the production of a certificate of their marriage before the superintendent registrar and upon the payment of the customary fees (if any), may, if he sees fit, read or celebrate in the church or chapel of which he is the regular minister the marriage service of the church or persuasion to which he belongs or nominate some other minister to do so.
This section provides permission for the couple to undertake a religious ceremony additional to the civil ceremony. Please note – the religious ceremony is not a marriage as classified under the Marriage Act C.76. There is no time period stated and most importantly it does not state that the religious ceremony (which again I reiterate is not a marriage) cannot take place before the civil ceremony.
(2)Nothing in the reading or celebration of a marriage service under this section shall supersede or invalidate any marriage previously, and the reading or celebration shall not be entered as a marriage in any marriage register book kept under Part IV of this Act.
Not applicable as already stated above, the Hindu ceremony is not a marriage.
(3)No person who is not entitled to solemnize marriages according to the rites of the Church of England shall by virtue of this section be entitled to read or celebrate the marriage service in any church or chapel of the Church of England.
Again, not application as the Hindu ceremony is not classified as a marriage.
To clarify, according to the Marriage Act 1949 a marriage takes place when:
1. Takes place in a registered building/approved premises
2. Takes place at the registrar's office
3. Before a registrar
4. Takes place in a church
Therefore, under the legislation in England & Wales the Hindu ceremony is not classified as a marriage and will not invalidate the civil ceremony if it takes place before.
Additionally, the Marriage Act (1949) allows for a valid and legal marriage where the Civil Service is conducted by a minister of the Church of England, The Jewish Faith or the Mormon faith. These Services appear to be considered as “Integrated”. Other specific faith services can be approved by the Registrars Department to conduct a valid and legal marriage.
The insistence that a Civil Marriage MUST take place before any additional service (religious or otherwise) means that where the religious service take place first the participants are refused permission to legalise their marriage and are thus denied the protection that a legal marriage would offer them (and their children)
This must be a denial of their human rights and specifically will be:
- Breach of Article 5 “Right to Liberty”
- Breach of Article 12 “Right to Marry”
In an “integrated” service, it is normal for the Religious service to take place before the Civil proceedings. This seems to be considered as acceptable because the service is considered as “integrated”. However as neither of the combined services recognises the other, the only “integration” appears to be that both services are performed in front of approved persons (ie the person approved by the Registrars Department and the Religious Minister) and before the same witnesses.
Where a marriage has been dissolved via a legal Divorce, both parties are free to re-marry in a Registrars Office. Note that the Catholic Church does not recognise a Legal Divorce and thus considers the parties to be married in the eyes of the church before the second Legal Marriage. Until recently, the Church of England took the same approach.
Recent legislation has approved “Partnership” arrangements between same sex partners and further legislation has now approved Legal and Valid Marriages between same sex partners. Further, partners who have previously taken part in a Same Sex Partnership service have been allowed to take part is a Same Sex Legal Marriage Service.
Suggested Solution for approval of the Marriage of Chantelle Gough and Kayur Patel in Hampshire
This marriage should be considered as INTEGRATED for the following reasons:
- The Civil marriage will be performed by an approved person- ‘Registrar’
- The persons being married in both ceremonies are the same
- The witnesses will be the same at both ceremonies
- The congregation will essentially be the same at both ceremonies (where venue size permits)
- Both ceremonies will be conducted on the same day
- Both ceremonies will be conducted in the same venue
Therefore it should be permissible for the Religious Service to take place before the Civil Service.