Norwich MP calls for marriage reform to end “business transaction between fathers”
Norwich MP Chloe Smith spoke of her surprise that her mother was left off her marriage certificate as she called for an end to the old practice of marriage being a “business transaction between fathers”.
Ministers have been urged to bring forward laws immediately to end the “offensive and outdated message”.
The names of the mothers of the bride and groom are not specifically recorded on marriage certificates in England and Wales, although there is space for details of the fathers.
MPs from across the political spectrum have now told Home Secretary Theresa May to rectify the situation and bring marriage certificates into line with those for civil partnerships to ensure mothers are “no longer erased from these important historical records”.
Tory Chloe Smith, who sponsored the motion, said she was surprised to learn she could not include her mother on the certificate when she married Sandy McFadzean last November.
“Having only recently got married myself, the anachronism in the process is clear and I simply don’t think it’s right for the 21st century,” she said.
Asked if she knew in advance that her mother would not be included on the certificate, Miss Smith said: “I didn’t know that. It came as a surprise.”
The motion tabled in Parliament has so far been signed by 26 MPs.
It follows a petition on the change.org website, which has attracted more than 37,500 signatures calling for the names of mothers to be included alongside those of fathers.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion), who is the main sponsor of the early day motion in the Commons, has also been joined by former Labour minister Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford) and Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell (Colchester), among others, in raising the issue.
The motion states: “That this House... believes our law should not perpetuate the offensive and outdated message that marriage is a business transaction between fathers; further notes that both mothers and fathers are recorded on a civil partnership certificate and believes the same should be the case on a marriage certificate; further believes that change is needed so that mothers are no longer erased from these important historical records; and calls on the Secretary of State for the Home Department to bring forward the necessary legislative proposals without delay.”