As the coalition government’s public consultation on marriage equality in England and Wales drew to a close this week the Church of England launched another attack on gay marriage. The Church claimed once again same-sex marriages would undermine society and the institution of damage and wilfully ignored the fact gay marriages have already been legalised in other countries – such as Catholic Spain.
The Church’s attack on gay marriage was widely criticised and labelled as “scare-mongering”. Openly gay Tory MP Nick Herbert has now joined the chorus of criticism. Herbert is the coalition’s minister for Policing and identifies himself as Christian but is dismayed at the Church’s stance on gay marriage.
“I don’t think they would like it if I said, ‘Well, sorry, you should accept a civil partnership too’. I consider myself to be a Christian and I’ve never in my life felt more distant from the Church than I do at the moment. I think that some Christian leaders have said things that, when heard by gay people, sound highly judgmental or intolerant. We all have to be careful of our language.” - Nick Herbert as quoted by The Times
The coalition’s consultation on gay marriage closed on Thursday; it only covered England and Wales because the SNP administration in Scotland held its own consultation earlier this year. Scotland is inclined to “introduce” same sex marriages and may do so before the government in Westminster does so – which would create an odd and potentially controversial imbalance in marriage equality in the UK as a whole.
Yesterday new marriage laws came into effect in Denmark allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. The Scandinavian country was the first country in the world, in 1989, by passing laws allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. Denmark joins a growing club of European countries which have already legalised gay marriage such as its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden, Norway and Iceland as well as other European countries such as Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. France has already pledged to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry by next year.