For immediate use
Church of England fails to consult lesbian and gay Anglicans on equal marriage statement
The hierarchy of the Church of England in Church House and the House of Bishops has issued their submission on equal marriage without consulting those most affected by the proposal – lesbian and gay members of the Church of England.
The Church of England is threatening a new rift with the Government, according to reports. It is also creating an ever deepening rift within the Church itself, between the hierarchy and congregations. It does not represent the diverse attitudes to equal marriage held by Anglicans.
Christians live with lesbian and gay family members, colleagues and members of their congregations. To them, gay couples in civil partnerships are married. People do not see an intrinsic difference between heterosexual and same-sex relationships as the Church’s submission claims.
In an open letter to the Times on 21 April 6 bishops, 4 deans and 8 General Synod members argued for “a recognition of God’s grace at work in same-sex partnerships” and “that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples”. They said statements by church leaders give a false impression of popular feeling. The statement issued by Church House today repeats previous mistakes and reinforces this unfortunate impression.
The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, comments:
“The Church of England’s statement and response have achieved headlines which send a message to the nation that Christians are prejudiced against lesbian and gay people and have set out to block moves to equality in marriage and justice for lesbian and gay couples. It is a disaster for the mission and evangelism of the Church.
“The Church of England’s response is threatening and legalistic. The claim that legal and material inequities between heterosexual and same-sex partnerships have now been satisfactorily addressed is not true.
“Many lesbian and gay Anglicans want equal marriage, religious as well as secular, in church because for us marriage is a spiritual as well as a legal institution which strengthens and enriches both the couple and society.
“There is no evidence to support the Anglican hierarchy’s claim that to change the nature of marriage to include same-sex couples will be divisive. The recognition of long-term same-sex relationships has no impact on the institution of marriage for heterosexuals.
“Lesbian and gay Anglicans, our families, friends and members of our congregations are encountered by God who delights and rejoices when two people fall in love and dances with delight in celebration of their relationship. God longs for lesbian and gay couples who believe in Christian fidelity and stability to consecrate themselves to one another in marriage.”
For further information contact:
The Reverend Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England
Mobile +44 (0)7770 844302
Office +44 (0)1380 724908