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Archbishop Welby opposes UK marriage equality bill

Archbishop Welby opposes UK marriage equality bill

Speaking in the House of Lords today, Dr. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that he favors civil unions for same-sex couples, but opposes marriage equality:

It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage. Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the whole passage of the Civil Partnerships Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should. I must express my sadness and sorrow for that considerable failure. There have been notable exceptions, such as my predecessor Archbishop Ramsey who vigorously supported decriminalisation in the 1960s.

It is also necessary to express, as has been done already, total rejection of homophobic language, which is wrong – and more than that, sickening.

However, I and many of my colleagues remain with considerable hesitations about this Bill. My predecessor Lord Williams of Oystermouth showed clearly last summer, in evidence during the consultation period, that it has within it a series of category errors. It confuses marriage and weddings. It assumes that the rightful desire for equality – to which I’ve referred supportively – must mean uniformity, failing to understand that two things may be equal but different. And as a result it does not do what it sets out to do, my Lords. Schedule 4 distinguishes clearly between same gender and opposite gender marriage, thus not achieving true equality.

The result is confusion. Marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories. The new marriage of the Bill is an awkward shape with same gender and different gender categories scrunched into it, neither fitting well. The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost. The idea of marriage as covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, predating the state and as our base community of society – as we’ve already heard – is weakened. These points will be expanded on by others in the debate, I’m sure, including those from these benches.

Coverage of his speech and the debate in the House of Lords can be found in the Telegraph and the Guardian.


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John Bennett



I agree *and* I disagree, Joshua.

On the one hand, I think that sexual orientation absolutely SHOULD be adiaphora.

The problem is, is that LGBT orientations have been used to justify discrimination and even VIOLENCE against some (of the most vulnerable) of God’s Beloved Imago Dei. Confronting this SIN AGAINST God’s LGBT children is absolutely NOT adiophora, it is Esse.

The sooner we can put this discrimination BEHIND us, as Christians, the sooner we can focus on “visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding the hungry, and clothing the sick” * (i.e., “preaching the Gospel”, without words, as is preferable!)

JC Fisher

* I am of no illusions that overcoming the sins of wealth inequality—overcoming via active&political Christian charity—will be far MORE intractable to overcome than is the comparatively “minor” problem of homophobia.


While I disagree with and am disheartened by the Archbishop’s opposition to marriage equality, I’m equally disheartened by the comments on Episcopal Cafe linking the “proper” stance on this particular issue to the church’s relevance. The church is relevant because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing else. If anything is leading to Christianity’s irrelevance in western societies, it is the inordinate amount of time we spend arguing over issues that are adiaphora instead of focusing on preaching the Gospel, visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding the hungry, and clothing the sick.

Joshua Rodriguez

Obadiah Slope

Obadiah Slope = John Sandeman

[Thanks John. ~ed.]

Obadiah Slope

“We Americans learned a while ago that that “distinct” means “not equal”.” Harry, what do you make of the Aoteoroa/New Zealand Anglicans three Tikanga model where Maori, Pacific Islanders and Pakeha have separate bishops? Do American learnings have to apply all around the world?

John Sandeman

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