Government Ministers’ letter leaves Church of England in no doubt that full inclusion is expected

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities have written to Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, spelling out with clarity why the MBE was awarded in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Sajid Javid and Helen Grant are clear that the Government expects the Church of England to make rapid progress towards becoming fully inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (CA England also now includes intersex people).

Changing Attitude England has been given further authority and responsibility to campaign for radical change in the Church. Full inclusion for us means equality for lay and ordained Anglicans both in ministry and relationships.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
10 July 2014

Dear Mr Coward,

We should like to offer you our sincere congratulations on receiving and MBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

This is an acknowledgement of the important contribution you have made, in your role as Director of Changing Attitude, to securing equal rights to marriage for gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and for helping to transform the Church of England to ensure the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Anglican community. We are delighted that your work has been recognised in this way.

We know that this award will be warmly welcomed by your friends and colleagues and hope that it gives you and your family equal pleasure.

With best wishes,

Sajid Javid
Helen Grant


  1. says

    I say! It’s not every day one gets lobbied by not just one government minister, but two! Many many renewed congratulations, Colin, and I among your many other friends and admirers second all that they say.

    • Changing Attitude says

      You may if you like. But it’s hardly news that although the government does not intend to interfere with the C of E in this matter, it very much hopes that it will embrace equality of its own accord. That is what we hope too.

    • Changing Attitude says

      I gather there are cases bouncing around about whether marriages contracted in one jurisdiction should be necessarily acknowledged in another where there isn’t equal marriage. But that’s a different issue to a government (backed by all three major political parties) deciding that it’s legal in its own country, and is what it wishes to encourage. From this perspective I don’t see the relevance of whether ECHR is calling it a ‘human right’ or not – the court most certainly isn’t condemning gay marriage, just not supporting its acknowledgement in countries where it hasn’t yet been voted in favour of.

  2. Sally says

    And what qualifications do Sajid Javid and Helen Grant have, exactly, for promoting their own interpretation of Christian doctrine over that of the House of Bishops?

    The metropolitan opinion formers are determined to use this issue to undermine, divide and destroy the Church of England and the average person in the provincial pew is oblivious to what is going on.

    • Changing Attitude says

      Linda Woodhead’s large-sample research shows that churchgoing Anglicans are divided more or less 50:50 on this – the government’s absolutely entitled to an opinion on the established church (just as, conversely, the church continues to be well represented in the House of Lords). But it would be optimistic of you to think that this wouldn’t be an issue in the church if it wasn’t for the government: the under 30s are overwhelmingly on the liberal side of the argument, and Christians in that demographic (e.g. those with a conservative evangelical background in Diverse Church) are beginning to speak up for themselves instead of being spoken for by older generations. We’re really delighted to have MP support, but attitudes really are changing, and this is a big part of what’s effecting the shift.

    • Anonymous says

      Sally, the average person in the provincial pew has gay friends, family members, work colleagues and neighbours that they would love to see being part of their own congregation, sitting alongside them in that pew. The average person in the provincial pew would consider that the Christian doctrine of Jesus’ words to treat others as they would wish to be treated leads them to accord the same respect to a same-sex married couple that they would wish to receive in return. Sajid Javid and Helen Grant have a vision of a Church of England that accords everyone equal respect, and with Colin’s tireless campaigning, we stand a chance of seeing it too.

  3. Harry Macdonald says

    What this government has completely failed to recognise is that it is the definition and focus of marriage that it has been changed. In the past the primary focus of a marriage was the care of the children produced by the couple. Now the focus seems to be the two consenting adults (or 3 if you live in Massachusetts). and any children are secondary. The question that no one has answered is ‘What business is it of government who I choose to share my life with?” If two parents are undertaking to nurture and protect the next generation it is very much something governments should take an interest in, if it is just who I choose to live with….

    • Changing Attitude says

      I’m not sure if I follow how ‘children become secondary’ because equal marriage has happened. If you’re the child of undivorced heterosexual parents, I don’t see how your life security could possibly be weakened by it. If you’re a child living in an LGBT family, your stability and security might be considerably enhanced by the marriage of those looking after you. And as usual with this argument, you overlook the many heterosexual couples who don’t have kids. We’ve seen a lot of hypertheoretical arguing along these lines in the last few years, but they are always thin on well founded examples of concrete harms in practice.

      • Harry Macdonald says

        For centuries folk were free to live together but if they wanted to procreate they were expected to marry. Slowly over the last few decades more married couples are separating, more are having children without marrying and the focus has changed from “I want to get married because I want to procreate and give the children a secure home” to “I want to marry you because I love you”. SSM is just the next step of that process. The question still remains, what business is it of governments who I choose to share my life with? If SSM was part of the adoption process, then I can see a reason, but as a stand alone institution, why?

        • Changing Attitude says

          As (I presume) a heterosexual, are you really saying that the only reason you can conceive for wanting to be married to your partner is in order to have kids? Would you be happier if heterosexual couples did not marry until they had children?

          There are all sorts of tedious, tax and benefits related reasons why the government might need to know ‘who you share your life with’ – and circumstances where agencies might ask that question, regardless of whether you had formally married. So the one isn’t really contingent on the other.

          • Harry Macdonald says

            NO I am not saying that. I am saying that marriage used to be a contract between a couple and society generally which said that if I want have sex, with the attendant possibility of having kids, then I will commit to staying with the man/lady and caring for those kids, and not burden the rest of society with looking after them. This was never perfect and has been much degraded recently with the high rates of separation, but it does give a reason for the arrangement to be formally recognised (i.e. marriage) and is the basis for recognising marriage across all cultures for many centuries.
            The idea that I want to get married only because I love you is relatively new and has the alarming corollary that when I stop loving you I’ll leave and if that upsets the kids, too bad.
            What I am saying is that the church opposes SSM because it radically redefines what marriage is all about. If the church was happy with the new meaning then it would be happy to see SSM in church, but civil partnership provides all that would seem to be required without needing to redefine an institution that goes back centuries.

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