Church of England Gives Up Fight Against Marriage Equality

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday June 7, 2013

The Church of England has been vehemently bent on prohibiting the United Kingdom's gay marriage bill from being legalized. Despite their desperate attempts at blocking the measure and condemning marriage equality and gay couples, officials have announced this week that they will no longer try to stop the bill from passing, the Religious News Service reports.

On Tuesday, the House of Lords overwhelmingly voted against an amendment that would kill the measure, signaling that gay marriage in Great Britain was immanent. Soon after the vote, Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said officials are sure gay marriage will eventually legalized in England.

"It doesn't mean the Church of England is happy, but that's where our government is going," Jenkins said. "Now it's about safeguarding people's right to hold religious beliefs."

The Bishop of Leicester, Rev. Tim Stevens, who heads the bishops in the House of Lords, said they would now focus on their efforts on "improving" the measure, rather than trying to nix it, the British newspaper the Telegraph reports.

The bill now moves into committee where bishops will try to add amendments to add protects for teachers or other workers who object gay marriage because of their religious beliefs. Twenty-six bishops hold seats in the upper chamber.

"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," Stevens said.

Though, some experts say this is not the end and are warning that officials from the Church of England will still attempt to take down the gay marriage bill.

"I think it's been over reported that the church has given in," said Chris Sugden, an Anglican minister and secretary of the traditionalist group Anglican Mainstream. "It's as if the church is saying, 'We don't approve of gambling, but if there are going to be betting shops, they would put an amendment to say they should not be near schools.'"

In Stevens' statement, he still mentions the redefinition of marriage, saying, "If this bill is to become law, it is crucial that marriage as newly defined is equipped to carry within it as many as possible of the virtues of the understanding of marriage it will replace."

According to Rev. Peter Ould, a commentator and Anglican priest, Stevens' comments may be subtle enough that the bishops in the House could still vote against the bill once it comes out of committee.

"I wouldn't put it past the bishops to say we didn't get what we wanted so we are going to vote no," Ould said. "The underlying tone of the statement is that this bill isn't good. It needs to be improved."