In November of this year, a group of 44 bishops from the Church of England issued a public statement in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, stating their hope that immediate action will be taken to allow priests within the clergy to enter same-sex civil marriages.
This statement was put forth only a few weeks after another recent announcement by 12 other bishops who openly expressed their disagreement with the recent majority vote by the House of Bishops to commend prayers for same-sex couples on October 20. This included comments from the likes of the Bishop of Penrith, the Right Reverend Rob Saner-Haigh, who pushed for a ‘traditional view of marriage’ by saying:
“As many of you know, I hold to a traditional view of marriage, and also long for a church where everyone will know the Lord’s welcome and support one another on that sometimes-costly road.”
Conversely, the statement issued by those in favour read:
“We look forward to Guidance being issued without delay that includes the removal of all restrictions on clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, and on bishops’ ordaining and licensing such clergy, as well as granting permissions to officiate.”
“In all of this we long for the day when LGBTQIA+ people will know themselves to be unquestionably included in the life and all ministries of our Church, and the contributions of each one of us fully accepted and celebrated as simply the offering of a fellow Christian,”
Others have also come forward to reiterate the importance of greater inclusivity within the Church of England such as Father Lee Taylor who is a gay vicar from Llangollen. In a recent press release, he detailed his frustrations at not being able to get married in his own church:
“I do feel that the Church is facing an existential crisis if it does not address these issues of affirming, blessing and sanctifying same-sex unions in the church because, on the outside of the Church, it looks very primitive…People can’t understand why a Church which proclaims a gospel of love and forgiveness and peace and unity and equality is marginalising people because of their sexual orientation.”
According to a report from the Church Times, policy to support these changes does exist in draft form but has yet to be acted upon. Similar proceedings debating the polarising topic were also held earlier in the year but the ultimate decision at the time was to not to allow priests to marry same-sex couples in church.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords, comments as follows: “the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which came into effect on 5 December 2005 finally afforded same sex couples the majority of the rights and responsibilities in relationships enjoyed by heterosexual couples and the same claims and protection in connection with finances and children in the event of a relationship coming to an end. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which came into effect on 13 March 2014 has extended the status of marriage, in addition to civil partnership, to same sex couples and allows religious institutions, with the exception of the Church of England which is prohibited by the Act from doing so, to offer religious marriages to same sex couples if those institutions choose to do so. The Act also finally enables existing marriages to continue where one or both parties change their legal gender and wish to remain married.”
At Grayfords, we believe that any two people who love each other should have the right to get married if they wish to do so. We have worked closely with clients in same-sex marriages and relationships and have a wealth of knowledge from our experienced solicitors who have worked in this area of law for many years. If you belong to the LGBTQIA+ community and need assistance with a family law matter, don’t hesitate to book a free consultation to speak with one of our solicitors today.