A senior Roman Catholic has challenged the Home Secretary about the Government’s plans to redefine marriage.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark noted that civil partnerships already offer same-sex couples virtually all the rights of marriage.
He pointed out that when he met with Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this week she seemed unable to say why marriage should be redefined in light of that.
He said: “I suspect the Government hasn’t really thought out why the definition of marriage should be changed.”
The Government will launch a consultation about redefining marriage in the spring.
Archbishop Smith met Mrs May alongside William Fittal, secretary general of the Church of England.
A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The Church of England is committed to marriage as being between a man and a woman and will respond in full to the consultation when it is launched.”
The spokesperson added: “Opening marriage to same-sex couples would add nothing to the rights and responsibilities that already arise with a civil partnership but would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.”
In October a prominent commentator warned that David Cameron should “tread more carefully” in considering whether to redefine marriage.
Charles Moore, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, said that it is “very big and bold” to argue that marriage should be differently defined.
Mr Cameron caused controversy when he spoke out in favour of changing the definition of marriage at the Conservative conference in Manchester last year.
Responding to Mr Cameron’s words, Mr Moore said: “For the entire history of civilisation, marriage has been defined as being between a man and a woman.
“Throughout that history, almost all civilisations have regarded marriage as central to their survival.”