Changing Attitude, LGCM, Stonewall, LGB Consortium, Lesbian and Gay Foundation and Outrage have been invited by Lynne Featherstone MP, the Minister for Equalities, to a discussion at the Home Office on Tuesday 27th July. With Jeremy Timm, the chair of trustees, I will be representing CA.
This is part of the coalition government’s commitment to talk to those with a key interest in what the next stage should be for civil partnerships. This now includes, in the government’s careful phrasing, that “…some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples the opportunity to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so.”
The conversation next week results from the amendment made to the Equality Act 2010 which makes it possible to remove the express prohibition on civil partnerships taking place on religious premises.
Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said on Monday in a video interview that the government will give gay couples the right to civil marriage. He predicted that the change would be made before the next general election.
He said: “It would be appropriate in Britain in 2010, 2011, for there to be the ability for civil marriage for straight people and gay people equally. That’s different of course from faith ceremonies which are matters for the faith communities… they have to decide what recognition to give. The state ought to give equality. We’re halfway there. I think we ought to be able to get there in this parliament.”
The coalition government is coming under increasing pressure to provide full marriage equality. Changing Attitude supports the move to grant full equality to lesbian and gay couples and more significantly for those of us who are Christian and Anglican, to allow civil partnerships to be registered and celebrated in church buildings by priests acting as the registrar.
The government is moving much faster than the Church of England, which will find itself even more out of synch with the local communities which we are in theory called to serve in this country. The church’s attitude to LGBT people affects not only gay individuals directly but families, friends, colleagues and congregations.
This isn’t a question for us simply of equality or not being out-of-step with secular society. I believe that society is reaching a place of truth in God that recognises the full and equal humanity in creation of LGBT people. There are other, rich biblical truths, metaphors, narratives and theologies about relationship, sexuality, intimacy and marriage to be set against Leviticus 18.22 and Romans 1.18-32.
Next Tuesday I expect to meet people with far more understanding of the place of LGBT people in the Kingdom of God than many of those Christians who hold such strong views about me and my kind.