Marriage update

Liberate has recently spoken with the Chief Minister’s Department and they have confirmed that they are still on track to have same sex marriage passed into Jersey law in December 2017.

The law is with the law draftsman and we should see a draft very soon.

Brexit has thrown an almighty spanner into the works and is producing large amounts of legislation in the UK that needs royal assent at Privy Council. This will have a knock-on effect on Jersey’s marriage law, which as primary legislation will also need to go through Privy Council. This makes the timing of the passing of the law tricky to predict.

The Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law has undergone a complete overhaul to address issues such as making the process for all couples wanting to give notice of intention to marry simpler, clarifying the legal position and responsibilities of step-parents, introducing immigration and identity checks to prevent sham and forced marriages, and enabling couples to choose what the marriage certificate says on it – spouse/spouse, husband/wife, wife/wife or husband/husband. The new law will also not include the so-called “spousal veto” that affects transgender partners in an existing marriage.

The whole process has touched many areas of legislation – some predictable like family law, some not so obvious like tax law – and has had to be worked through carefully to ensure that same sex married couples do not find themselves being discriminated against unintentionally or excluded from a basic right offered by other laws to opposite sex married couples.

There are still some knotty issues to be worked out regarding parental responsibility as it relates to surrogacy and same sex couples, pensions and pension recognition on the death of a spouse, and who the lead taxpayer should be on the personal tax returns of married couples.

Liberate applauds the care that is being taken to get all the island’s legislation right for same sex couples so that, when the law is finally put in place in Jersey, it will be fit for purpose and will not have to be “patched” or return to the States for debate at a later stage.

gay-marriage-uk

The following media release was made public yesterday (21 February 2017) by the States of Guernsey:

Following the registration of the Same-Sex Marriage (Guernsey) Law, 2016, in January, two Ordinances have been drafted, which are required in order to commence the Law and make necessary changes to other Guernsey legislation in preparation for its introduction.

The Ordinances will be considered by the Legislation Review Panel in early March. If the Legislation Review Panel approves the Ordinances, they will be lodged for consideration at a future States Meeting. The earliest opportunity for them to be debated by the States will be at the States Meeting which commences on 26 April.

If the States approve the Ordinances at that meeting, the Law to enable same-sex marriages to take place will come into effect on 2 May 2017. This would mean that the earliest possible date for a same-sex marriage to take place would be 4 May 2017. In order for that to be possible, couples would need to qualify for, and obtain, a special licence from the Greffe, which allows marriages to take place one clear day after giving notice.

It is important to note that, until the Ordinances are approved by both the Legislation Review Panel and subsequently by the States, there is no certainty that the legislation will come into force on 2 May 2017. Furthermore, same-sex couples who are considering getting married should discuss their circumstances with the Greffe before making wedding plans in order to ascertain the notice period applicable for them.

Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security said:

“People are keen to know when same-sex couples will be able to get married in Guernsey. We thought it important to share the information that we have, which is to the best of our knowledge and dependent on the timetable being met as explained.”

Some helpful links are in this ITV Channel report for those wishing to get married in Guernsey.

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