Christian campaigners appear to have accepted gay marriage will become law in England and Wales and cancelled a last-ditch prayer rally against it.
Christian Concern was planning the prayer rally on Monday (15 July) as the House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament, holds its final vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Separate legislation is being developed in Scotland.
It now appears there will only be a token vote, likely to be a landslide for marriage equality, at the House of Lords debate. Plans to object to the substantive points of the legislation have been shelved.
Christian Concern have therefore published a statement saying: ‘We’re sorry to inform you that after much consideration we have decided to cancel the prayer gathering we had organized for Monday (15th July), as it now appears there will not be a vote at the third reading of the same sex marriage bill on Monday and what happens on that day in the House of Lords will be a mere formality.’
But they add they are ‘conserving energy’ for a future, unspecified occasion.
The statement goes on: ‘We are resolute in our determination to keep standing for real marriage. We will never give up speaking about God’s good pattern for his creation.
‘Please keep praying for our politicians, our church and for our nation, and thank you for standing with us.’
Gay activists welcomed the news.
One campaigner told GSN this evening: ‘In their pamphlet Christian Concern said they didn’t expect to win but “the Lord moves in mysterious ways”.
‘How upsetting it must be that they feel the good Lord has abandoned them.’
And Peter Tatchell, who has campaigned for gay marriage for two decades, told us: ‘It is great news that even Christian homophobic extremists have given up their fight to preserve discrimination in marriage law.
‘It is a sign that even they realize that they are out of touch with a majority of public and religious opinion.
‘Perhaps it is too much to ask for them to now repent of their homophobia but we live in hope.’
They are not the first Christian group to give up the fight. The hierarchy of Britain’s state church, the Church of England, which has bishops with voting rights in the Lords, ditched their objection to the bill after the first vote there.
The church has since focused on ‘improving’ the bill – but no attempts by opponents to water it down have succeeded.
Meanwhile organizers have immediately confirmed an LGBT celebration on Monday, to be held outside parliament, will go ahead.
The event, supported by Gay Star News as its media partner, will encourage peers in their final session and serenade them with music from the London Gay Men’s Chorus and London Gay Big Band. Everyone is welcome to attend and you can find out more here.
If all goes as expected, the bill will be signed by the Queen on Thursday (18 July) and become law although there will then be a delay before the legislation is implemented.