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Church of England objects to government's gay marriage plan

The Church says that it could be forced to stop conducting weddings on behalf of the state if gay marriage is legalised.

Image: Armando Franca/AP/Press Association Image

THE CHURCH of England has objected to the UK government’s proposal to permit gay marriages, saying that it could threaten the establishment of the Church.

In a document released today, the Church insisted that its historic understanding of marriage is as a union between a man and a woman. It argued that gay couples already can enjoy many of the legal benefits of marriage through civil partnerships, which were introduced in the UK in 2005.

Legally obligated to provide a marriage service

About a fourth of weddings in England take place in Church of England churches, which are legally obligated to provide a marriage service for any resident of a local parish, regardless of church membership.

Prime Minister David Cameron is backing the proposal for gay marriages, despite the strong opposition of some lawmakers in his Conservative Party.

In the statement, the Church state that it cannot support the proposal to enable “all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony”. The submission continued:

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.

It concluded that “imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise”.

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Additional reporting by the AP

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