UK Politics

Marriage certificate could include mothers' name

Marriage certificate Image copyright Getty Images

Mothers' names could be included on marriage certificates in England and Wales, under plans being considered by the Home Office.

At the moment, the certificates only require the names and occupations of the fathers of the bride and groom.

There is no legal requirement or space on the certificate for mothers' names.

More than 100 MPs from all parties are calling for the "offensive and outdated" law to be changed so that women are not written out of history.

Marriage certificates in Scotland and Northern Ireland already include mothers' names.

An Early Day Motion by Green MP, Caroline Lucas, says the "law should not perpetuate the offensive and outdated message that marriage is a business transaction between fathers".


She also points out that "both mothers and fathers are recorded on a civil partnership certificate," and she believes "the same should be the case on a marriage certificate".

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has promised to look into changing the law.

Image copyright Getty Images

In a written answer to Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, one of the signatories of Ms Lucas's motion, he said: "I have discussed modernising marriage certificates with the home secretary and we are currently considering a range of options.

"The content of marriage registers has not changed since civil marriage was introduced in 1837, so it is right that we look at whether it still meets our needs."

Mr Javid also promised to find a way to reflect the fact that many individuals now have legal parents of the same sex.

Responding to a Commons question from Labour's Huw Irranca-Davies on Thursday, he said: "You raise a very important point.

"When these rules were first set in 1837, equality was just not a priority for our society. Thankfully, today it is. These are just the kind of changes we are looking at."

Blank certificates

Campaigners on Twitter have been pressing for a change in the law, using the hashtag #MothersOnMarriageCerts.

The Home Office would not be drawn on the range of options it was considering or when an announcement would be made.

But a spokeswoman said officials were looking at the feasibility and cost of replacing all of the existing, blank marriage certificates with new ones that include space for the mother's name.

She said: "We are currently reviewing the information contained on marriage certificates and a number of options are being considered.

"Replacing all the certificates held by local authorities, in churches and other religious buildings is logistically complex and costly but we are investigating how this change may be achieved."

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