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Britain Considers Gay Marriage Plan

The British government is considering a plan to allow gay couples to wed in civil ceremonies.
The British government is considering a proposal to allow gay couples to wed in civil ceremonies, but the Churches of England and Wales would be barred from offering same-sex weddings.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller told parliament Tuesday that, under the new plan, it would remain illegal for the Church of England and Church in Wales to perform gay weddings, an exclusion church officials requested.

Other religious institutions would be allowed to conduct gay marriage ceremonies if the organization's governing body opted to do so.

Religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians and liberal Jewish groups, which favor the plan, could choose to marry gay couples, but no individual minister could be forced to marry same-sex couples or be sued for not doing so.

Conservative lawmakers strongly oppose the plan on religious grounds.

Britain currently allows gay couples to obtain "civil partnerships," which have the same legal rights as gay marriage, but civil rights campaigners say the distinction is inferior.