February 28, 2011
Church of England to block gay marriage
The Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined the Church of England’s opposition to equal marriage rights. Dr Rowan Williams told a private meeting of influential MPs that the Church does not support moves towards equal marriage, and will refuse to host same-sex civil partnerships.
The Archbishop’s comments come as the government plans to consult upon the future of marriage and civil partnership laws. Changes are likely to include the legalisation of civil partnerships with religious readings and within religious buildings.
Conservative MP Simon Kirby asked Dr Williams what he would say to a gay couple wishing to celebrate their union in a church. The Archbishop explained that whilst the Church of England will support gay clergy and permit them to enter into civil partnerships, it does not plan to weaken its opposition to equal marriage.
“Public opinion is moving faster than the Church on this issue and it is increasingly in danger of getting left behind,” Mr Kirby told the Sunday Telegraph. “Obviously it is a difficult issue for the Church, but it has many gay men and women who want to be treated the same way as everyone else.”
A spokesperson for the Archbishop said that marriage should be between a man and a woman. “Civil partnerships now provide legal securities for same-sex couples, but this does not, in itself, alter what we believe to be unique about marriage,” he added. “The Church of England is opposed to all forms of homophobia and would want to defend the civil liberties of homosexual people, and to welcome them into our churches.”
The traditionalist position is not supported by all. Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor at St Paul’s Cathedral, argued last week that the Church should do more to support same-sex couples. “Gay relationships are perfectly capable of reflecting the love of God. Which is why the Church should respond more imaginatively to the idea of same-sex blessings being celebrated in church.”
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