Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a Catholic convert since 2007, has announced his support for David Cameron’s proposal to legalize gay marriage.
Blair’s endorsement defies the Catholic Church’s campaign against gay marriage, which intensified on Sunday as a letter from Catholic Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith denouncing gay marriage was read aloud in 2,500 Catholic Churches in England and Wales.
On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI said to US Bishops visiting the Vatican that ‘sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage.’
Despite continued opposition from the Catholic Church, a government consultation on how to introduce equal civil marriage is being launched later this month. Leaders of both coalition parties are in support of the reform campaign.
At his party conference last year, Cameron said: ‘I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative; I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.’
Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, said that the UK would see its first gay marriage before 2015 because of the Liberal Democrat presence in government.
Lynn Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Equality Minister launching the consultation, has pre-emptively excluded any discussion of civil unions for opposite-sex couples. The fight for marriage equality also includes the debate on whether religious same-sex marriages should be allowed.
Peter Tatchell, the national coordinator of the Equal Love campaign that is seeking to overturn the twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships, released a response to Sunday’s letter from the Catholic Archbishops.
‘Gay Marriage is about love. By opposing marriage equality, the Archbishops are denigrating, demeaning and devaluing love between two people of the same sex,’ said Tatchell.