Genuine marriages only

The Church of England's Communication office seems very keen on (heterosexual) weddings (see yesterday's post).

Under the strap line "Join in with us wherever you are!" (why the exclamation?) they have a YouTube marketing video basically telling potential customers, you can get married in any church you like, one way or another. Everyone welcome - baptised or not, church-goer or not, believer or not.

Is the CofE continuing to lose market share? Or is this just a distraction from the question of civil partnerships? Or is it a merely matter of needing the fees?

However the video doesn't mention the CofE's guidance on marriage of non-EEA people. The UKBA have been paranoid about sham marriages. Or, in the more diplomatic words of the Faculty Office,
Strictly speaking the law of marriage and the national immigration requirements are separate. However, there is a contemporary concern that some couples may be contracting marriage solely for immigrations reasons. (here, pdf)
For some time the CofE resisted pressure to conform to secular changes in marriage preliminaries.  They have now caved in no doubt following the successful prosecution of Rev Alex Brown for his part in a series of sham marriages. To rub in its victory the UKBA sent its own guidance note along with the Church's.

I don't deny sham marriages take place, and may be arranged by organised criminal gangs, and that they are are a crime to be prosecuted like any other. But I do think the matter has been blown out of proportion.  For example, the press release, in support of the need for such a change, says there were 155 arrests in relation to sham marriages - arrests, not convictions, and presumably more than one arrest per putative marriage, and with no time-scale given. 

I also know that genuine marriages, contracted by "those who wish to do so to enter into the honourable estate of holy matrimony, intending a permanent and lifelong union, for better for worse, till death do them part." are threatened and, I believe, have been blocked. The reason is that sham marriages are only one of the UKBA's target. 

The other target is those asylum seekers or other non-EEA nationals who wish to contract a valid marriage. Such a marriage is likely to strengthen in their a to remain in the UK. To assert or assume that such benefit is the only or primary reason for marriage for every one is as demeaning of the holy estate of matrimony as is sham marriage. It reflects the UKBA's culture of disbelief and disdain towards those it is trying to keep out.  

The Case Study in the Faculty Office's guidance, which is less a case study than a statement of dfficult decisions to be made, concludes:
If the relationship is a genuine one and the parties understand the nature and import of marriage, it would be disproportionate to refuse the licence. Although the overriding interest is to ensure  that the marriage is based on a genuine intention, such procedures can help to ensure that the position of the Church of England is not abused in a way which could cause it potential embarrassment or damage its position as a national institution privileged and obligated to carry out national duties.
It is the final clause which the Revd Alex Brown flouted.

And I don't see in any of the guidance notes how to appeal the refusal of a licence if the incumbent considers a couple's application to be genuinely founded.

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