The Church of England has issued a statement officially declaring that they will no longer work to obstruct the passage of the marriage equality bill that is currently going through Parliament. While it is clear that the Church of England will not support the bill as it is, the statements about the matter have contained some mixed signals about the sentiments from the leaders in the Church.
On Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby spoke about the issue during the debate on the Marriage Bill. The Archbishop expressed that he felt passionately about the issue of equality, and even apologized that the Church has ignored the rights and the wellbeing of LGBT brothers and sisters in the past.
Welby explained, "it is clearly essential that stable, and faithful, same-sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognized and supported with as much dignity, and the same legal effect as marriage." Despite this overwhelmingly positive statement, the Archbishop explains that he cannot support the bill as it is because, "the idea of marriage as a covenant is diminished," and the family in its "normal sense" is weakened.
Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins compares the passage of the marriage equality bill to the eventuality of the Church allowing female bishops. Stevens, the Right Bishop of Leicester issued a statement on Wednesday, one day after an amendment designed to kill the Marriage Bill in the Upper House failed with a majority vote of 390-148.
“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. Now, the focus is shifting from preventing the bill from passing to ensuring that there will be legal protection for those with strong opposition to marriage equality.
While the sentiments from certain members of the Church of England seem muddled and confusing, it is apparent that the bill is not yet acceptable for the House of Lords to feel comfortable passing it. The current legislation bans LGBT couples from marrying, and it seems as though the House of Lords won't be comfortable with the legislation until it is further improved to match their needs.
While some in religious communities still struggle with how to feel about LGBT people in a religious context, it's important to note that a recent poll states that approval of marriage equality is rising in every religious group. Some still feel as though LGBT people cannot be religious, but this is no longer the popular opinion. The pushback from the Church of England is part of a decreasing section of religious circles that still struggle with the concept that one can be religious and also LGBT. For more information on this subject, and weekly updates about religion news visit GLAAD's Faith, Religion, and Values page.