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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Two Churches

The amendment meant to block the government's same-sex marriage bill in the House of Lords was defeated and now the bill is one step closer to being made law. You can read about it here and there's a video also of the speech given by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury ... Gay marriage bill: Peers back government plans

An interesting thing about Welby's speech is that while he says sorry for the Church of England not always being for equality for LGBT people, he asserts that the C of E did support civil partnerships. The reason this is interesting is that actually, the C of E did *not* really support civil partnerships and there was some changeability in Welby's speech. Here's a bit about this from Thinking Anglicans .......

House of Lords debate Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

[...] The Archbishop of Canterbury’s own record of his own speech can be found on his own website.

In his speech Hansard says he said that:

*…Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the passage of the Civil Partnership Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should…*

Whereas in his own transcript he says that he said:

*Although the majority of Bishops who voted during the whole passage of the Civil Partnerships Act through your Lordships’ House were in favour of civil partnerships a few years ago, it is also absolutely true that the church has often not served the LGBT communities in the way it should. [emphasis added]*

Update Hansard has been modified, and the word “whole” has been [re-]inserted in the sentence in the official record. Those who have studied the analysis linked below will see why the inclusion of this word is so significant.

TA readers will recall that back in June 2012 we published this detailed analysis of how the bishops spoke and voted on this matter, prepared by Richard Chapman: The Lords Spiritual and Civil Partnerships Legislation.


The Catholic Church too has been rewriting its stance on civil partnerships. In this 2010 BBC discussion on civil partnerships, Archbishop Nichols says "We [the Church] did not oppose gay civil partnerships." .....



... but this is clearly untrue: you can read in detail what the Catholic Church had to say about civil partnerships in the UK in 2003 here - Bishops' response to government proposals for civil partnerships - a quote from the Church's document: We believe the government’s proposals to create civil partnerships for same sex couples would not promote the common good, and we therefore strongly oppose them.

Why are the Churches re-framing their stance on civil partnerships now? Perhaps to deflect hostility over their arguments against the marriage equality bill. I don't think that will work.

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