Gay groups want civil partnerships in church

Thu, 19 Nov 2009

Homosexual activists are lobbying to change the law hoping that, in the future, churches may be forced to host gay civil partnership services.

At present the gay lobby group Stonewall is seeking an amendment to the Equality Bill which will allow churches to host the services if they wish.

But Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”

Mr Summerskill said his organisation was working with the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) and the Metropolitan Community Church.

Rev Sharon Ferguson of the LGCM told Pink News, a gay news website, she wanted “equality” for civil partnerships and marriage.

The gay groups anticipate that such an amendment to the Equality Bill would face firm opposition from the House of Lords.

In July a homosexual Government minister called on the Church of England to allow same-sex civil partnerships to be celebrated in churches.

Chris Bryant, a junior Foreign Office minister, said churches should be “much more open” to treating civil partnerships like marriage.

A spokesman for the Church of England said it has always been clear that “marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, and that is what the liturgy of the C of E Marriage Service is exclusively intended for.”

The Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali, who at the time was Bishop of Rochester, said: “Of course all citizens must have equal rights without discrimination. But marriage is the basis of the family, and the stability of the family is grounded in the sameness in difference between men and women.”

In May Tony Grew, a leading homosexual campaigner, said the Government’s Equality Bill aims to “entrench gay rights in all aspects of public life”.

Mr Grew’s article was posted on Pink News and analysed the wide-ranging advantages of the Bill for the gay community.

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