A Church of England vicar will make a pilgrimage to York tomorrow (7 July) to present his pro-gay marriage petition to the homophobic archbishop there.
Father Ian Stubbs, from All Saints Parish Church in Glossop, a small town in Britain’s Peak District, hopes to start a revolution in religious attitudes by taking on the upper echelons of the Anglican church.
The plucky priest will hand in a Change.org petition signed by 4,000 people to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York’s chiefs of staff, on the second day of the General Synod meeting at York University tomorrow (7 July).
Father Stubbs said: ‘It is time to welcome gay people as full members of the church and of society and stop treating them as second class citizens. They must have equal access to society’s cherished institutions, including marriage.
‘The mark of Christian discipleship is to love one another and to promote God’s ever widening circle of friends. Nowhere does the Bible say that committed, same-sex relationships fall short of God’s purposes.
‘I am bitterly disappointed by the Church’s shameful and outdated response to the Government’s proposals for gay marriage; it shows a lack of moral courage and risks further undermining the credibility and relevance of the Church of England in modern life, especially among younger people for whom this is not an issue.
‘My fear is that as the Church digs in its heels over progressive issues like this, the Church will become less relevant to ordinary people. I have spent 40 years working to engage people with the Christian faith, I will be furious if the refusal to let loving couples marry undermines that work.’
His words contrast sharply with those of Sentamu, who has been one of the most high-profile opponents of gay marriage equality in the UK.
Sentamu said: ‘I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.
‘We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.’
Unlike in a dictatorship, the UK government held a public consultation on whether to allow gay civil marriage equality in England and Wales.
It closed last month and was a response to overwhelming public opinion in favor of the move, including 58% of British people of faith who support the government’s actions.
But the change would not affect religious marriage ceremonies – they are excluded from the proposls and there are no plans to force churches to wed lesbian and gay couples.
On 8 July, All Saints Parish Church will be screening Love Free or Die, an American documentary about a gay Anglican bishop Gene Robinson who married his partner Mark Andrew.