Campaigners criticise same sex marriage law delay

Ringed male hands Politicians debated the introduction of same sex marriage on Tuesday

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Gay rights campaigners say a last minute decision to delay a same sex marriage proposition was driven by "fear of the unknown".

States members voted to delay changing the law on Tuesday.

The late amendment means the Chief Minister now has to conduct a "detailed study" by 31 December.

Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand, who lodged the amendment, said same sex marriage could have "unintended consequences".

Martin Gavet, chairperson of Channel Island gay rights campaign group Liberate, said Senator Le Marquand had a poor track record in equality issues.

"In 2011 he was the only States Member to vote against civil partnerships and is on record stating that he was concerned that civil partnerships may weaken the institution of marriage," said Mr Gavet.

"The LGBT community will quite rightly be angry at the States Assembly's decision."

Critics said Senator Le Marquand's amendment was a delaying tactic and would turn the topic into a divisive issue during the October general election.

Insulting

During Wednesday's debate, Senator Le Marquand, who is not standing for re-election, said: "It is a highly significant matter we are debating here.

"I am passionate about marriage and I do not want anything, no matter how well meaning, to water it down.

"It is frankly insulting to the people of Jersey, whatever side of the argument, for us to be making a snap decision."

Deputy John Le Fondre said the same sex marriage proposition was "seismic" and warranted close examination although Deputy Southern disagreed.

"We had a chance to advance to the 21st Century and what we did was duck it because, I believe, there is a difficult election coming up," said Deputy Southern.

Deputy Sam Mezec, of Reform Jersey, lodged the original same sex marriage proposition and said the only consequence would be that some people of the same sex would get married.

Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf, who is openly gay, said a protracted consultation would be damaging.

"We know enough about equality," he said.

"We know enough about fairness. We do not need to have a visceral debate that will be unpleasant and divide us.

"People should be equal."

The amendment was passed by 24 votes to 18 and the amended proposition by 39 to one.

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