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12 June 2012

C of E criticises government’s same-sex marriage plans

C of E criticises government’s same-sex marriage plans

The Church of England has slammed the government’s plans to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, two days before the public consultation ends.

In its submission, the C of E said it could not support the proposal to allow “all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony”.

The official submission followed a joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and criticised the plans as having the potential to create a rift between church and state the likes of which have been unseen for centuries.

Church leaders also said the government’s plans were severely flawed and questioned the prime minister’s assurances that the proposals would not force churches to carry out same-sex marriages.

“Several major elements of the government’s proposals have not been thought through properly and are not legally sound,” the statement said.

“Ministerial assurances that freedom of the churches and other religious organisations would be safeguarded are, though genuine, of limited value given that once the law has changed the key decisions would be for the domestic and European courts.”

Officials also said that David Cameron’s plans would erode the institution of marriage and ultimately be to the detriment of society as a whole.

“Such a change would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history. Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which includes, for many, the possibility of procreation. The law should not seek to define away the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women.”

The C of E submission comes ahead of the closure of the public consultation on Thursday (14 June). The Evangelical Alliance is making its submission tomorrow.

More than 550,000 people have now signed the Coalition for Marriage petition opposing the government’s redefinition of marriage.

For tips on how to have your say on the government plans to redefine marriage, read our guidelines.