UK Government changes its mind on same-sex marriage in church

Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that there will be a change in the proposed legislation on same-sex marriage following consultation earlier this year.

The original proposals sought to make a distinction between ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ marriage by insisting that same-sex marriages would not take place in religious buildings.

But ahead of the revised proposals expected to be published later this week, the Prime Minister has indicated that churches will be allowed to celebrate same-sex marriages if they want to, while promising that no church or religious venue will be forced to do so.

The change of heart has undoubtedly come as a result of the church objecting to this new division between civil and religious marriage, and the lobbying of LGB&T groups who argued that to exclude churches from offering same-sex marriage would simply repeat the same mistake that accompanied the introduction of Civil Partnerships (an exclusion which was later reversed by the House of Lords).

The news has been welcomed by many pro-LGBT Christian groups, but the Church of England has issued a press release reaffirming its opposition to same-sex marriage.  Only in the very last paragraph does it welcome the change of heart on dividing civil from religious marriage saying, “We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government’s earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage.”

The proposed legislation is expected to come before Parliament next year.

(The full statement from the CofE can be read here and a statement by LGCM can be read here)

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  1. You are already out of date! The government has now backtracked almost completely. Yes, in theory same-sex ceremonies will be able to be held in church, but no individual congregation will be able to hold them unless the entire denomination formally agrees. This is unlikely to happen except for the Unitarians and the Metropolitan Churches.

    Furthermore such ceremonies will be illegal in the Church of England and the Church in Wales, regardless of anything the Churches themselves might decide in the future.

    In short nothing has really changed.

    • Hi Hazel.
      Yes – the announcement was a disappointment today as regards the CofE. It does seem to me that the extra safe-guard for the Cof E and Church in Wales is overkill – and the Archbishop of Wales agrees according to the BBC!
      The denominational approval for others was expected – exactly as it is for Civil Partnerships, but there are denominations which are talking about it and the United Reform Church is likely to take this on.
      God Bless

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