The campaign to have mothers’ names added to marriage certificates alongside fathers’ has attracted a good deal of support.
I appreciate that many people, both men and women, will accept that the current situation – where fathers’ names are required on marriage certificates in England and Wales, but not those of the mother – is a relic of the past. It suggests that a bride is being handed over from one man to another whereas a marriage should, of course, be about a partnership between two equals. I got married earlier this year and I would have liked my mum’s name on my marriage certificate too.
This is not the case on marriage certificates in Scotland and Northern Ireland or on civil partnership certificates across the UK, where the names of both parents are required.
I know that the change.org campaign – which has received over 70,000 signatures – has helped highlight this and I am pleased that the Shadow Equalities Minister has written to the Home Office to ask why the government has not committed to amending marriage certificates and to clarify what the projected costs to the Exchequer would be.
I also believe that given the previous Labour government passed legislation to enable same sex couples to adopt children, and for same sex partners to be automatically considered the adoptive parent in cases of artificial fertilisation, that its right that any change to the reference to parents on marriage certificates should reflect the reality that many individuals will have two legal parents of the same sex.
The government needs do much more to tackle gender inequality in our economy, society and political system. Indeed, for the first time in five years the gap between men’s and women’s pay has increased and the government’s tax and benefit changes have had a disproportionate impact on women.
I will continue to press the government on this issue.