Church of England attacks plans for gay marriage

Gay marriage has come under attack from the Church of England. Credit: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

First, there was a split within the cabinet and now the church is openly challenging the Government's proposals for same-sex marriage.

Essentially their argument boils down to this; if the law does allow for a man and a man to be married or a woman to be married to a woman, then the church which illegally officiates over such ceremonies would be forced to marry same-sex couples.

They argue that if a vicar refused to do so he would be openly challenged under human rights legislation. The Government this morning has been stressing they don't believe that would be the case, they say the legislation would mean nothing of the sort.

Gay rights groups, including Stonewall, say that the church is simply scaremongering because of their basic hostility to the idea of same sex marriage.

There was a barrage of questions to the Prime Minister's official spokesman this morning over what would happen if a vicar refused to marry a same-sex couple. The Government has consulted lawyers over this but it seems that the church would have done so too.

Their lawyers seem to believe that the church would be open to challenge under human rights legislation.

There is no sign yet of the Government getting cold feet over this but I think some backbenchers and even some in the Cabinet are concerned they're paying a high price for this proposal.

ITV News' Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall reports that proposals to legalise gay marriage threaten to sever the historic bond between the Church and the State.