This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Bishop of Leicester voices concern over gay marriage proposals
The Bishop of Leicester has expressed concern over gay marriage while saying the Church of England wants an increase in support for the gay community.
The Rt Rev Tim Stevens said the Church of England had been supportive of civil partnerships when the legislation was introduced eight years ago.
In a highly critical response to the Government's consultation on gay marriage which closes on Thursday, the Church of England said several “major elements”' of the proposals had not been thought through properly and were not legally “sound”.
“We continue to be supportive of the gay community and want to see that inclusion in our society increased and developed,” said the bishop.
“I think the difficulty we have here is the substitution of equality for uniformity, that is to say that there can be no distinction at all between men and women.”
He added: “The Government is seeking to meet what it perceives to be the needs of the gay community. I would say that the Church of England is sympathetic to those needs, we want to see a society in which gay people are fully included and their needs are fully provided for.
“But this does not amount to a basis for introducing a complete redefinition of the concept of marriage based on a consultation process which is at the very least rapid.
“From a standing start within three months to arrive at a fully considered, weighed and articulated redefinition of a fundamental social institution which has been thought about in one particular way for centuries and which is broadly accepted as a social institution in the same way internationally - to change all that on the basis of a consultation like this seems to be at the very least unwise and ill considered.”
Gay marriage threatens the establishment of the Church of England and could lead to it being forced out of its role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state, it has claimed.
The Church of England said introducing same-sex marriage would lead to an unprecedented clash between its own canon law - that marriage is between a man and a woman - and that of Parliament.