A coalition of bishops, Tory MPs and lawyers attacked Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday for his support over plans to allow gay couples to marry. Mr Cameron, who has made his support for such a measure clear, is facing increasing opposition from within his own party over the plans.
Many Conservative MP backbenchers have made it clear that they do not like the idea of gay people being given access to marriage. While prominent Conservatives voiced support for Christianity last week following court decisions supporting secularism, Mr Cameron’s position on marriage equality for gay couples is likely to lose him the good will such support gained.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, called attempts at marriage equality an act of ‘cultural vandalism’ and a ‘power grab’ by gay people. Carey joined Lord Brennan, a peer and well known barrister, to launch a new group called the “Coalition For Marriage”, a campaign aimed at scuppering marriage equality plans.
Polls show that the vast majority of the British public are for allowing gay people to marry and that the group is unlikely to succeed in its aims. The group has gained support from a handful of Church of England bishops and other Christian groups, as well as the Roman Catholic Church.
The group is currently trying to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to petition the Government to keep marriage from being available to gay people.
Bishops are understood to be considering issuing a pastoral letter to parishes across England and Wales urging them to support the campaign. Meanwhile, the equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone is due to publish a consultation document next month that will detail plans to legalise same-sex marriage by the end of this parliament in 2015.
The campaign hopes to force the Government to change their plans to include a question on whether same-sex marriage should be allowed at all.
Peter Tatchell, a leading gay rights activist, called the move “intolerant” and “discrimination” and said that the campaigners were “out of touch”, while Lynne Featherstone made clear the Government’s firm commitment to achieving marriage equality. Many equal rights campaigners are already upset with the Government for pushing back the consultation twice.