The Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican church worldwide, Justin Welby, secretly backs gay marriage even though he voted against it.
That’s the claim being made in the corridors of the UK Parliament.
And the rumor has emerged as his Church of England starts a behind-closed-doors consultation on sexuality among its members amid divisions over same-sex marriage and whether gays or lesbians should become bishops.
Senior Anglican bishops, including Welby, get a vote in the unelected upper chamber of the parliament, The House of Lords.
In line with church policy, Welby voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill last summer.
But an anecdote told by Baroness Lindsay Northover, a straight ally who helped steer the bill through the Lords and get it passed, appears to confirm the rumors he is conflicted over the issue.
She claimed that during one of the voting rounds he winked at her and said: ‘Get this passed as quickly as possible.’
Liberal Democrat peer Northover told the story while making a speech at a private gay wedding in North London.
But when GSN contacted Welby’s spokesman we were told: ‘He supports the church’s official position.’
This will start with bishops talking with each other in September before they select a small group in each local area to discuss it further.
But of the 60 people in each of these small groups only a quarter need to be under 40, even though younger people are statistically more likely to support LGBTI equality and same-sex marriage.
And a minimum of just two LGBTI representatives are required out of the 60 according to the rules set out by the church.
Finally the ‘shared conversation’ will not be completed until July 2016.