Religious leaders clash as UK gay marriage debate continues
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said most people do not understand gay marriage, calling government plans to legalise gay marriage unnecessary.
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said he does not see the need to change the definition of marriage.
He told Sky News: ‘He [David Cameron] seems rather intent in taking a step the reason for which quite frankly a lot of people don't understand.
‘We have legal protection for the shape of the marriage which has served society very well around the world for many centuries and quite frankly we really don't see why it's important to change that legal definition.’
Nichols added: ‘We wish to reserve that special place within the law for marriage as the basis of family life, providing the best context in the bringing up of children, and that is what best serves society.’
He said there are many people, among the gay community, who are satisfied with civil partnerships and are willing to make that point.
Gay MP Ben Bradshaw attacked the government plans last Friday (6 April), saying the fight for marriage equality was just ‘semantics’.
Rev. Nichols’ words have caused further divisions within the church in England and Wales, with a Welsh vicar stepping down after 33 years because of ‘homophobia in the church’.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England, has resigned and will stand down from his position in December.
Conservatives had attacked Williams’ left-wing views, including his opinions on homosexuality, while he has been criticised by liberals for failing to stand by his own principles.
Over 400,000 people have now signed the Coalition for Marriage, a petition demanding that marriage remains between a man and a woman, while fewer than 42,000 people have signed the Coalition for Equal Marriage, a petition supporting the government plans.
The comments follow the UK government consultation on whether gay couples should be allowed to marry in England and Wales.