John M. Becker

Church of England Drops Opposition to Marriage Equality

Filed By John M. Becker | June 06, 2013 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Anglican Church, Church of England, gay marriage, Great Britain, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, UK, United Kingdom, Wales

church_of_england.jpgIn a dramatic reversal, the Church of England officially announced yesterday that it was dropping its opposition to marriage equality. 

The announcement came in the form of a short statement released by the Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, who heads the church's delegation in the United Kingdom's House of Lords. In its statement, the church acknowledged the inevitability of marriage equality after landslide votes in Parliament in favor of the freedom to marry:

Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape.

The bishops will now seek to change the marriage equality bill to include an adultery clause -- which would recognize adultery as valid grounds for divorce -- and a provision ensuring that both same-sex spouses are classified as legal parents in the event the couple has children.

The Church of England, which was founded so that King Henry VIII could change the definition of marriage, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of marriage equality. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, recently warned that if marriage equality passed, it would mean that marriage is "abolished, redefined, and recreated." His predecessor, Rowan Williams, lamented that LGBT rights -- including marriage equality -- risked "fragmenting" society. And perhaps most dramatically, last year the church hysterically claimed that the British government's plan to allow same-sex marriage presented the greatest threat to the relationship between church and state in 500 years. Senior clergymen even threatened to disestablish the church from the state if equal marriage became law.

The fact that the Church of England has capitulated -- and will now focus on "improving" the same-sex marriage law rather than obstructing it -- is truly a stunning turn of events.

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