Church of England briefs parliament on their opposition to marriage eqaulity

The Church of England has briefed members of Parliament on the official opposition to proposals to make marriage equality legal in the UK.

Here is the summary of the document, prepared by the Parliamentary Unit, Mission and Public Affairs Division and Legal Office of the Church of England:

The Church of England cannot support the Bill, because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms.

This reshaping and unnecessary politicising of a fundamental social institution, which predates church and state, did not feature in party manifestos, was not included in the last Queen’s Speech and has no mandate from the Government’s own consultation exercise. The legislation has also been prepared at great haste and as a result relies on an unacceptably wide use of secondary legislation.

We do not doubt the Government’s good intentions in seeking to leave each church and faith to reach its own view on same sex marriage and including provisions in the Bill to protect them from discrimination challenges. If the Bill proceeds into law it is essential that the various ‘locks’ in the Bill are preserved as drafted. The Church of England, whose clergy solemnize around a quarter of all marriages in England, has sought no more safeguards in substance than those provided for other Churches and faiths.

The Church of England recognises the evident growth in openness to and understanding of same sex relations in wider society. Within the membership of the Church there are a variety of views about the ethics of such relations, with a new appreciation of the need for and value of faithful and committed lifelong relationships recognised by civil partnerships.

Civil partnerships have proved themselves as an important way to address past inequalities faced by LGBT people and already confer the same rights as marriage. To apply uniformity of treatment to objectively different sorts of relationship – as illustrated by the remaining unanswered questions about consummation and adultery- is an unwise way of promoting LGBT equality.

The continuing uncertainty about teachers, the position of others holding traditional views of marriage working in public service delivery, and the risk of challenges to churches in the European courts despite the protections provided, suggest that if the legislation becomes law it will be the focus for a series of continued legal disputes for years to come

Comments (6)

What are "the remaining unanswered questions about adultery and consummation"?

Clint, the government doesn't know how to define gay sex, which means they can't define consummation of a marriage. If you can't consummate a marriage, you can't commit adultery. I'm glad to live in a country without a national church. Having a national church makes it even harder to bring about equal marriage.

Enrique Molina [added by ~ed.]

"This reshaping and unnecessary politicising of a fundamental social institution...."

Wow. Good thing kings never married off their children to the children of other sovereigns for political reasons, huh?

Genie Carr

Under English law, consummation and adultery can only take place in a mixed-sex context. It is not that the question has not been answered, but that the Church of England seems not to like that answer. In both cases this is only an issue when one is seeking either to annul a marriage (due to failure to consummate) or end a marriage on the grounds of adultery. Under present English law, a woman cannot sue her husband for divorce on with adultery as the ground (or as the English say, the "fact") if he has an affair with another man -- but she can sue for divorce on the fact of "unreasonable conduct." This will remain the case with same-sex marriage: a person who has an affair with a person of the opposite sex is committing adultery under the legal definition; if with a person of the same sex, it could constitute unreasonable behavior -- and if the "innocent party" finds that either situation render continuing the marriage intolerable, they can sue for divorce. In short -- nothing has changed.

So in the long run this is just the church making an issue out of the few scraps of straw available to them. It doesn't make a very convincing straw-man, as it has nothing to do with marriage other than its termination.

Disgraceful.

JC Fisher

Interesting how those claiming to represent the Church of England now say they embrace civil partnerships! They are in the process of rewriting history. It is a lie that civil partnerships provide the same rights as civil marriage. The issue here is equality and not redefining marriage.

Now I understand why a friend of ours in London told us that he and his partner, who are in a civil partnership, would never want to get married in the Church of England.

Why are we in communion with Canterbury?


Gary Paul Gilbert

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