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Church of England Slams Government Plans to Legalise Gay Marriage

By Periscope @periscopepost

Church of England slams government plans to legalise gay marriage

Wedding rings. Photo credit: Goran Ratković

The background

The Church of England has condemned the government’s proposal to legalise gay marriage, and warned that the move could fatally undermine the relationship between church and state in the UK.

The government is carrying out a consultation on extending the legal status of marriage to include homosexual couples. Under the proposal, no church would be compelled to carry out same-sex ceremonies. But in a submission to the consultation, Church of England clerics questioned this would actually be feasible under human rights law, and accused the government of meddling with the definition of marriage.

Gay couples should not be excluded from marriage

“In simple terms, marriage is a social and legal union between two people who love each other. Why in that case should gay couples be excluded from joining in matrimony?” asked Charlotte Proudman and Michelle Brooks on a Guardian blog. Gay marriage is not about undermining the union of heterosexual couples, but about changing an unfair system. And legalisation would have wider benefits: “Legalising gay marriage would send out the message that homosexuality is acceptable in our society,” said Proudman and Brooks.

Government is setting church against state

“Matrimony, as the word suggests, involves the union of a woman and a man and legislation is not going to change that fact,” said a Telegraph editorial. By pressing ahead, the government risks opening up a serious rift with the Church of England and other religious groups. According to the editorial, “there is the potential for the biggest clash between canon law – which sets out the Church’s definition of marriage – and the law of England since the Reformation.”

Cameron has rushed gay marriage

“It looks as though the Tory end of the Government has rushed into this one without thinking it through,” wrote Paul Goodman at the Conservative Home blog. Looking at the government’s gay marriage plans from a purely practical view, rather than as a matter of conviction, Cameron and co risk alienating voters: “Most surveys show about a third of voters against the idea, and it is usually bad politics to seek to force through change which a majority or plurality of voters favour tepidly but a significant minority oppose passionately,” Goodman wrote.

We should embrace a secular state

“If the secularisation of the British state turns out to be an unexpected benefit of gay marriage then we should welcome it,” wrote George Eaton at The New Statesman’s Staggers blog. “In an increasingly atheistic and multi-faith society, a secular state, which protects all religions and privileges none, is a model to embrace.” Separating church and state would be a “real legacy” for Prime Minister David Cameron.

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