Changing Attitude understands that following the consultation process, the Government’s proposals for equal marriage will be published in 7 to 10 days time. The Government received 228,000 responses to its consultation on equal marriage – more than any other issue under the Coalition.
The Daily Mail, Telegraph and Guardian are now reporting that plans to allow gay marriage could be voted on and approved by MPs within weeks. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have apparently agreed to fast-track the change in the law – bringing it before Parliament in the New Year.
But even if, as expected, dozens of Tory MPs refuse to back the plans, they look certain to be passed into law with the support of Labour and the Lib Dems. Labour leader Ed Miliband has suggested the Government should go even further than proposed, and allow gay marriages in church.
The proposal is of course being fiercely opposed by the same groups who campaigned successfully to block approval for women bishops on Tuesday – Reform, Anglican Mainstream, and Forward in Faith (despite their large gay closet).
As the Guardian says, there is also a belief that with the most extreme conservative evangelicals on the back foot over the vote on the ordination of women bishops it may be the right time to show they may have over-played their hand, and are in the minority in terms of public opinion.
Sir Tony Baldry, the Tory MP and second church commissioner, told MPs that church members would be “deluding themselves” if they thought their views on moral issues would be given the same weight as before.
He said: “If the Church of England thinks that parliament is going to listen to them on moral issues such as same-sex marriage with considerable attention when the Church of England seems to be so out of step on others issues of concern to parliament then they are simply deluding themselves.”
The Archbishop-elect, Justin Welby, has already hinted at a softening of the Church’s stance on same-sex partnerships after promising to re-examine his own traditional views. It seems he is going to face in the opening months of his Archiepiscopate a challenge as great as +Rowan faced when Jeffrey John was nominated for Reading.
But this time, the opposition forces will be diminished and treated with derision if they dare suggest that equality for LGB&T people is not consistent with the Christian Gospel.
A Conservative source said: ‘David Cameron’s view of this is: “get it done and get it done quickly”. If we are going to do this it’s better to make it happen rather than have it hanging. If people want to commit to each other, he believes that’s a foundation of a stable society.’
The agenda for the Changing Attitude trustee meeting on 1st December is going to be dramatically enhanced Our campaign for civil partnerships in church will be maintained and there will be a growing demand for the outcome of the House of Bishops review groups to be approval of a liturgy to bless (yes, BLESS, not simply dedicate) same-sex relationships.