One marriage law for all, says Dutch Reformed Church

The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) has come out in favour of a single law for all marriages, including gay unions.

It made the proposal in a submission this week to Parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee, which is weighing up whether to approve a Civil Unions Bill, separate from the existing Marriage Act, to cater for same-sex partnerships.

“We are of the opinion that there should be one law for everyone. It is the only way in which we will truly recognise the equality of all people,” the DRC said.

The DRC standpoint is in sharp contrast to that of the Catholic Church, which said earlier this week that man-made laws “cannot legitimise what is against the natural moral law”.

The DRC said in its submission that as an interim measure, the Marriage Act should be amended by expanding certain definitions to give same-sex relationships equal status and rights.

This would cater for the Constitutional Court deadline for a law recognising same-sex unions.

In the long term, the Department of Home Affairs should start rewriting the entire Act, which could possibly be renamed the Civil Unions Act, and would recognise not only Christian marriages, but also similar unions in other religions and cultures, such as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, African traditional and same-sex unions.

“The responsibility of religions to legalise marriages and unions according to their beliefs will then remain the prerogative of the relevant religious institutions,” it said.

“We have a history of discriminating against people based on differences people have no control over.
We cannot afford to again create a situation in which the law discriminates between people, compromising their dignity and equality.”

At the same time, it said, it trusted that Parliament would refrain from passing any legislation that would in any way prevent religious communities from experiencing the blessing of healthy marriages and family structures according to the beliefs of that religious community.

Few churches worldwide were at present prepared to confirm a marriage (or legitimate relationship) between people of the same sex.

But this, it said, should not necessarily be a reason for the state not to formulate legislation in this regard and have it accepted by Parliament.—Sapa

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