The Bishop of Leicester,Rt Rev Tim Stevens, has said that gay marriage goes a step beyond what is really needed at the moment because it suggests there is complete uniformity between men and women in terms of the kinds of relationship that they make.
The key proposals of the same-sex marriage consultation, released by the Home Office are:
- To enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage. Only civil ceremonies in a register office or approved premises will be deemed legal.
- Civil partnership registrations on religious premises will continue as is currently possible on a voluntary basis for faith groups and with no religious content
- To make no changes to religious marriages. This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman.
- To retain civil partnerships for same-sex couples and allow couples already in a civil partnership to convert this into a marriage.
- Individuals will, for the first time, be able legally to change their gender without having to end their marriage.
The Home Office has published a consultation, setting out the government's proposals to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage. Current legislation allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, but not civil marriage.
British actor and equality advocate Simon Callow has said that same-sex marriage was a "natural extension" of gay rights and that if civil partnerships were acceptable, then "marriage should also be acceptable".
Home Secretary Theresa May has written in The Times that government plans to legalise gay marriage will "strengthen society" and poses "no threat" to the Church. Ms May claimed that "marriage should be for everyone", regardless of sexual orientation.
The Home Secretary has rarely spoken out about her Anglican faith, however she said that her views has "nothing to do with telling the Church what to do" and that religious marriage would remain illegal.
Reverend Sharon Ferguson has claimed that gay marriage is not a 'sin', as the Church continue to oppose the government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone has said that no amount of vocal opposition from Christians and other opponents will prevent the government legalising same-sex marriages, as she prepares to publish detailed plans. She told The Independent:
– Lynne Featherstone, Home Office Minister
"There is no rolling back whatsoever. The essential question is not whether we are going to introduce same-sex civil marriage, but how".
Equalities Minister Lynn Featherstone will launch a major consultation on equal marriages today. The 12-week consultation will consider whether civil partnerships should be distinct from marriage and how this would affect both same-sex and mixed couples.