Update on Humanist Wedding Win in High Court

Here is an update on a story we wrote about a few weeks ago, where a footballer and his model fiance had gone to the Belfast High Court in an effort to get their Humanist Wedding seen as legal without also having to do a registry office wedding.

Eunan O’Kane and Laura Lacole had told the court they wanted a ceremony that reflected their beliefs, but the only legal options available to them were a religious or civil service. And they won!

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Laura said, “Our humanist ceremony will speak to our values and the love Eunan and I have for each other in a way no other marriage ceremony could. We’re thrilled that our action has extended the same choice to thousands of other couples.” Unfortunately though, Northern Ireland’s Attorney General is now going to appeal the verdict, so Euanan and Laura can’t completely celebrate yet.

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Footballer tries to get a Humanist wedding which is legal without a civil ceremony

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Laura Lacole, a model, is marrying the Leeds United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Eunan O’Kane in Northern Ireland next month. The couple, both humanists, want a ceremony that reflects their beliefs, but the only legal options available to them are a religious or civil service. They have taken the case to the courts because they say it is discrimination under European laws protecting freedom of belief that as Humanists they’ve got to have a civil ceremony to make their humanist wedding legal. It is quite a big news story in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a landmark case for Humanists wanting to get married there.

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To learn more about Humanism you can check out the Humanists UK website, as well their YouTube channel.

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Family Court Refuses to Grant a 66 Year-old Woman a Divorce

In the new AQA GCSE for Religious Studies students need to know about divorce. In the UK there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The person who starts proceedings, (called the Petitioner) must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery (spouse has had sex with another person)
  • Unreasonable behaviour (see below)
  • Desertion (spouse has completely left you for 2 years or more which rarely gets used in divorce proceedings)
  • 2 years separation with consent (you and your spouse both agree to a divorce)
  • 5 years separation with no consent required (you or your spouse might not agree to divorce though you do have to be living apart for this)

Out of these five the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales is Unreasonable behaviour. For this you’ve got to show that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. If the allegations are particularly serious, e.g. violence, then one or two allegations might be enough. If the allegations are relatively mild, for example, carelessness with money or devoting too much time towards a career, then you might need five or six allegations.

Well, Tini Owens was refused a divorce from her husband Hugh Owens in the family court and so has now taken her case to the Court of Appeal. One of the three Appeal judges who is hearing her case, Sir James, said the judges would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.”

In the first failed effort at getting a divorce Ms Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her, including that he was “insensitive” in his “manner and tone” and said she was “constantly mistrusted” and felt unloved. “The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years,” she said in a witness statement. “There is no prospect of reconciliation.” The judge though failed to see this as unreasonable behaviour.

What do Christians and Muslims say about divorce?

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Church of England still rejects same-sex marriage

The Church of England bishops have rejected the need to change its standpoint on same-sex marriages. A new report entitled Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations, by the Church of England bishops suggests new teachings on marriage and relationships should be drawn up to replace those introduced in the 1990s. It said, despite rejecting the idea of changing policy on same-sex relationships, that the new teachings should provide “maximum freedom” for gay people. 

The report also said there was “some support” in the House for the new document including “penitence for the treatment some lesbian and gay people have received at the hands of the Church”. Penitence means the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong which is like repentance.

In England and Wales the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013 and became law in 2014. It allowed marriage for the first time between gay people because the Government believed that it should not prevent couples from marrying unless there are very good reasons – and loving someone of the same sex is not one of them. The law stated that religious organisation were allowed to opt out of being forced to conduct same-sex marriages as part of human rights legislation which guarantees the freedom of thought, religion and conscience.

Wedding Bells

The great thing about the first topic being studied by Year 10 this half-term is that examples of the nature and purpose of marriage are all around us to learn from. Next time there is an article about weddings and marriage in the news, or a scene which you read or watch, or a family wedding you’ve got to attend – concentrate – and mentally note down what happens, what gets said, who does what and why. Bingo you’ll be learning more for your RS GCSE!

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Margot Robbie above with her new husband Tom Ackerley

Over the Christmas holidays Margot Robbie’s wedding to Tom Ackerley made the news pages: The Daily Telegraph reported how she fed the guests pizza and Coco Pops; The Sun explained how she’d tied the knot in Australia; BBC Three stuck to mostly photographs in their report; and the Daily Mail reckoned that all the guests received tattoos!

The plan to get married often starts with an engagement…

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…yet how the marriage will look can vary tremendously. As our Year 10s have been planning possible weddings between celebrities, someone mentioned their love of this YouTube video of Jess and Gabriel’s wedding:

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Is there a better video or film clip you’d recommend for us to watch to understand marriage and weddings?