Bill to allow same-sex marriage in Church of England to be tabled
Posted: Wed, 15th Mar 2023
An MP will seek to introduce a bill next week to permit same-sex marriages to be performed by willing Church of England clergy.
UK law currently prevents its clergy from carrying out same-sex marriages even if they wish to.
Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter and a former cabinet minister, will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Motion on Tuesday making the case for legislation to allow willing CofE clergy to solemnise the marriages of same sex couples. It would not force clergy who are opposed to same-sex marriages to perform them.
Last month, following a six-year consultation, the General Synod voted to allow priests to bless individuals within civil same-sex marriages. Despite this, Anglican doctrine continues to hold that gay sex is a sin and same-sex marriage is incompatible with scripture. The archbishop of Canterbury has said he would rather see the Church disestablished than split over same-sex marriage.
Recent YouGov polling shows most UK Anglicans believe same-sex marriage is "right".
The proposed legislation comes amidst increased criticism of the Church of England's position on same-sex marriage. Some MPs have even suggested repealing the 1919 act that devolves legislative power from parliament to the Church of England, which would be a step toward disestablishment.
Following the Church's recent decision to reject same-sex marriage but back blessings of same-sex couples who are already married, Ben Bradshaw said bishops were "heading for a major constitutional clash with parliament".
"The overwhelming view of MPs on both sides of the House is that it is not sustainable for our established church to be institutionally homophobic and to actively exclude a portion of the population, whom they have a duty to serve", he said.
NSS: 'bill highlights the absurdity of having an officially homophobic institution as a state church'
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "No member of the clergy should be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage. But at the same time, no member of the clergy should be prevented by law from officiating over a marriage involving a same-sex couple.
"Permissive legislation that allows for this would ensure the consciences of everyone can be protected. That this bill is necessary highlights the absurdity of having an officially homophobic institution as a state church."
Image: UK Parliament, CC BY 3.0