Coalition for Marriage has today launched a petition in support of “the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”
In a recent Daily Mail article, Lord Carey claimed the proposal to change the status of marriage ”constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history”.
All this is in anticipation of the public consultation on how to make civil marriage available to same-sex couples, to be launched next month, a development supported by David Cameron. At last year’s Conservative party conference, the Prime Minister said: “I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
Lord Carey says he doesn’t begrudge rights and benefits to homosexual couples. Well, you could have fooled me. A glance at the list of signatories on the petition shows that the anti same-sex marriage campaign is supported by those who are hostile to the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the church and actively campaign to deny us any rights, benefits or equality in the church.
They oppose the acceptance of anyone not prepared to suppress desire for intimacy nor willing to eradicate any feelings of love which might draw them into a relationship with a person of the same sex. The petitioners refuse to believe that gay is a natural identity or that anyone is born gay. They support ex-gay ministries and advocate the healing of same-sex sinfulness to make people ‘normal’, which in their belief system means heterosexual.
From Anglican Mainstream, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, and Dr Philip Giddings have both signed. They are members of General Synod, along with Andrea Minichiello Williams, Co-Founder, Christian Concern, Alison Ruoff, John Cook and Sarah Finch.
Four diocesan and one retired bishop have signed: Rt Revd Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester; Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford; Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter; Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle and Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, retired Bishop of Winchester. There are no surprises here. There are two things worth noting however: one, how few there are out of the 114 bishops and two, that Hereford and Carlisle have nailed their colours to this mast. This helps clarify which bishops support the inclusion of LGB&T people and which are intractably opposed.
The petition is launched in the slipstream of recently published research showing how few people in UK society support the belief system of these members of the Church of England. What the petition shows more dramatically is the lack of support in Synod and elsewhere for what they will claim is the orthodox, traditional teaching of the Church about homosexuality and same-sex relationships.
The majority of Christians support civil partnerships and may come to support same-sex marriage as debate about the government’s consultation develops. Lord Carey has already given the game away by referring to civil partnerships as marriage.
The bishops members of General Synod are joined by others I would expect to be associated with the petition, from churches and organisations which campaign against LGB&T people in the Church and hold a ruthlessly hard line against us. They reveal what a small minority they represent. They will easily attract far more signatories than Changing Attitude’s petition in support of civil partnerships in church. Anti-equality bishops are far more ready to stick their heads above the parapet to oppose equality than other bishops to proclaim their support (with the honorable exception of the Bishop of Salisbury).
Peter Tatchell has commented: ”The Coalition for Marriage is intolerant and out of touch. Its support for the ban on gay marriage is homophobic and discrimination. Coalition members are entitled to believe that same-sex marriages are wrong, but they are not entitled to demand that their opposition to such marriages should be imposed on the rest of society and enforced by law.”
Once again, a minority of Christians in this country demonstrate a Christian ethos which is deeply prejudiced, homophobic and obsessed with human sexuality. No wonder the Church of England in particular and Christianity in England in general looks dead on its feet. It is addicted to tradition, to the maintenance of power and authority and hamstrung by leaders who grab the headlines.
Changing Attitude trustees and supporters live Spirit-filled lives, following the path of Jesus the Christ, energised by self-giving love, deep faith and trust, and profound hope in God’s infinite and intimate welcome which transcends all attempts to close church doors to those whose pattern of life they claim is sinful.
I gave up on sin-addicted Christianity many years ago.
If you haven’t yet signed Changing Attitude’s petition in support of civil partnerships in church, please do so here right now!
Other predictable signatories:
Revd Hugh Palmer, Rector of All Souls Langham Place, London
Revd William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, London
Colin Hart, Director, The Christian Institute
Steve Clifford, General Director, Evangelical Alliance
Dr David Landrum, Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Alliance
Dr Don Horrocks, Head of Public Affairs, Evangelical Alliance
Dr Peter Saunders, Chief Executive, Christian Medical Fellowship
Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise
Revd David Holloway, Vicar of Jesmond Parish Church
Revd George Curry, Vicar of Elswick Parish Church
Revd Charles Raven, Rector of Christ Church, Wyre Forest