http://changingattitude.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/zpfile0001.jpg 1552w" sizes="(max-width: 179px) 100vw, 179px" />Tina Beardsley and Keith Sharpe joined me in meeting Ben Bradshaw at Portcullis House yesterday to review the impact of the no vote on women bishops on potential progress towards the full inclusion of LGB&T people in the Church of England.
Ben talked about Frank Field’s EDM on women bishops, tabled for next Wednesday in the Commons, and asked Changing Attitude to encourage our supporters to write to their MP, which we have done.
Our conversation ranged over a wide range of initiatives that Changing Attitude can take. The trustee meeting on Saturday had already agreed that we will ask to meet individually and in private with the 25 members of the House of Bishops we know are supportive of LGB&T people. The first appointment has already been made and others will follow. These meetings will be one major focus of our work in the Church of England over the coming 12 months leading up to the submission of the Pilling Working Party report in December 2013.
Ben encouraged us to arrange meetings with other members of parliament, including amongst others, Frank Field, Chris Bryant, Tony Baldry, and Helen Goodman.
We will also write to Maria Miller, the Equalities Minister, asking for an update on the progress of the equal marriage consultation. Rumours suggest there may be a government announcement next Wednesday.
Ben agrees that the issue for us in the Church of England (and he is an active worshipper) is the celebration of lesbian and gay relationships in church. This might mean working to persuade the Church of England to be permissive and allow each parish to decide whether it wanted to register for civil partnerships or for the Church to make it clear that there is at present no legal impediment to holding a service of thanksgiving following a civil partnership in church.
When the equal marriage proposals are published, there will undoubtedly be pressure on the Church of England to open its doors to same-sex marriage following the outcry in Parliament and in the country at the failure of the women bishops’ legislation. The failure of the Church to be honest and model equality in ministry for women and sacramental relationships for LGB&T people is something that has shocked the country. There is widespread support for women bishops and, we believe, for the blessing of same-sex relationships in church.
Ben agreed that for Changing Attitude, it is the blessing of same-sex relationships that is critical for us, and for the Church of England as the established Church with expectations that it reflects both the pattern of Jesus, Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God, and the widespread view in our country that the Church is portraying God as unjust and prejudiced. It is time the Church of England learnt from the wider population that people reject what a blocking minority hold on to as the “traditional, orthodox, Biblical, conservative evangelical, Anglo Catholic” view of God.