Happy 18th birthday to Humanist Weddings

Tomorrow will mark the 18th anniversary of the first humanist wedding in Scotland, so I was a bit surprised to read an article in The Observer by Devorah Baum that said, “Shorn of patriarchal expectations, marrying people could find they’re better able to talk about what it is they really want out of marriage.”

There are no ‘patriarchal expectations’ in a humanist wedding, so I wrote this letter, which the Observer published last Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people have done that already in Scotland since its first legal humanist wedding on 18 June 2005. Humanist celebrants don’t tell couples what marriage means. Instead, we ask them to think about what it means to them; what most of them say is that marriage is an equal partnership.

There are no “patriarchal expectations” in a humanist marriage. That may explain why a 2019 BBC Survey found that couples who’d had a humanist wedding were almost four times less likely to divorce than those who’d had a civil one, three times less likely than those who’d had a Roman Catholic one, and more than two times less likely than those who’d had a Church of Scotland marriage.

Eighteen years on, humanists are still campaigning to give couples in England and Wales the same freedom as those in Scotland. That day can’t come soon enough for me.

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