Inclusive Church and Same-Sex marriage

Same Sex Marriage and Inclusive Church

same sex blessingFor same-sex couples wishing to get married under the new legilsation that will be effective in 2014, please feel free to contact Inclusive Church for help and advice.

Please contact The Revd Bob Callaghan for more information.

The trustees of Inclusive Church responded to the government consultation on same-sex marriage. The text of this response is available here.

Inclusive Church recognises that there will be a variety of views on this topic within our registered inclusive churches and individual members.

Equal Civil Marriage: A Consultation. Inclusive Church's response


Inclusive Church is a network of individuals and organisations whose make-up reflects the breadth and scope of the Church of England and beyond. We come from differing traditions and differing locations but we are united in one aim: To celebrate and maintain the traditional inclusivity and diversity of the Anglican Communion.
Formally we are a charity (number: 1102676) led by a board of trustees,
Partner organisations include: Association of Black Clergy, Modern Church, Changing Attitude, Lesbian& Gay Christian Movement, LGB & T Coalition, No Anglican Covenant, Progressive Christianity Network, WATCH (Women and the Church), Young Inclusive Church.


Question 1: Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?
IC agrees with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender, having the option of a civil marriage ceremony.

Question 2: Please explain the reasons for your answer.
IC believes that civil marriage in a registry office or other approved premises should be available upon identical terms to all couples, as a simple matter of justice, fairness, and equality. Marriage as an institution has changed and developed substantially over the history of human societies. This proposed change is not inconsistent with the fundamental societal basis of marriage as the public acknowledgement of a permanent, stable, faithful relationship between two people.

Question 3: If you identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual would you wish to have a civil marriage ceremony?
See answer to Question 4.

Question 4: If you represent a group of individuals who identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual would those you represent wish to have a civil marriage ceremony?
IC knows of many same-sex couples among its supporters who would wish to have civil marriages, if offered. Some of these couples are already in civil partnerships and others are not. Similarly we know of many LGBT individuals not currently in a relationship who would wish civil marriage to be an option available to them in the future.

Question 5: The Government does not propose to open up religious marriage to same-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?
IC disagrees with this proposal. We believe there is a fundamental principle of religious liberty at stake here. Faith groups that believe it is right to celebrate marriages for same-sex couples should not be prevented by law from doing so. The permissive approach recently implemented for civil partnerships to be registered on religious premises demonstrates that such an approach is possible also for marriages. It is of the utmost importance that objections to the principle of same-sex marriages by some religious groups should not be used as an excuse to obstruct other groups from acting in accordance with their own religious views. Each group should be free to make its decision in accordance with its own internal procedures. The ideal solution is to ensure that marriage for same-sex couples is precisely equivalent to marriage for opposite-sex couples: i.e. available on the same terms in religious or civil venues – subject to the inclusion of an “opt-out” possibility by religious groups.

Question 6: Do you agree or disagree with keeping the option of civil partnerships once civil marriage is available to same-sex couples?
IC believes that civil partnerships should be retained ad infinitum. Some of our supporters who are already in civil partnerships, and many others who are not, would not choose to enter into civil marriages, for a variety of reasons, and there is no obvious reason for removing this option, which has proved to be much less controversial than many anticipated.

Question 7: If you identify as being lesbian, gay or bisexual and were considering making a legal commitment to your partner would you prefer to have a civil partnership or a civil marriage?
See answer to Question 6.

Question 8: The Government is not considering opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?
IC has no view at present on the desirability of making civil partnerships available to opposite-sex couples. We believe that any such proposal should be subject to a full consultation.

Question 9: If you are in a civil partnership would you wish to take advantage of this policy and convert your civil partnership into a marriage?
IC knows that some of its supporters will wish to convert their civil partnership into a civil marriage.

Question 10: Do you agree or disagree that there should be a time limit on the ability to convert a civil partnership into a marriage?
IC believes there should be no time limit imposed on the option to convert a civil partnership into a marriage.

Question 11: Do you agree or disagree that there should be the choice to have a civil ceremony on conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage?
IC believes that those who convert a civil partnership into a marriage should be subject to the same requirements for a civil ceremony as all others entering a civil marriage.

Question 12: If you are a married transsexual person would you want to take advantage of this policy and remain in your marriage while obtaining a full Gender Recognition Certificate?
IC welcomes the fact that Equal Marriage will resolve the very serious legal anomaly that creates such painful difficulties for previously married transsexual couples whowish to remain together.

Question 13: If you are the spouse of a transsexual person, would you want to take advantage of this policy and remain in your marriage whilst your spouse obtained a full Gender Recognition Certificate?
See answer to Question 12.

Question 14. Do you have any comments on the assumptions or issuesoutlined in this chapter on consequential impacts?
State pensions:
IC supports the backdating of all state pension entitlements to 1978.
Survivor benefits in occupation pension schemes:
IC supports legislation to remove any remaining unfairness in survivors benefits in occupational benefit schemes.
Administrative processes for marriage and civil partnership:
IC believes the processes of registration should be identical for all civil marriages.
International Recognition:
IC believes that all same-sex marriages formed abroad should be fully recognised throughout the UK. We also believe the government should make all reasonableefforts to obtain recognition of UK same-sex marriages (and civil partnerships) by overseas countries.
IC believes that the law on same-sex marriages should be consistent throughout the UK.

Question 15: Are you aware of any costs or benefits that exist to either the public or private sector, or individuals that we have not accounted for in the impact assessment?

Question 16: Do you have any other comments on the proposals within this consultation? Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx 200 words).
The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between Christ and his Church. But we know that exactly the same kind of love is equally possible in a same-sex relationship. A gay relationship based on the same quality of commitment is morally and spiritually indistinguishable from a heterosexual marriage where the partners are unable to have children together. It is important that the State gives equal recognition to both, not only in terms of legality but in terms of human dignity, by opening civil marriage to same sex couples without distinction. We pray for the day when the Church will do the same.

Gay Marriage

Giles GoddardInclusive Church has made a submission to the Equal Marriage Consultation which supports equal marriage. My personal view on the C of E's statement is this one of deep regret. It appears to have been issued without consultation. I find the emphasis on complementarity and procreation unfortunate and unhelpful; complementarity has been used over the centuries to justify the continuing submission of women, and the emphasis on procreation is disrespectful both to straight couples unable to bear children and lesbian and gay couples bringing up children themselves.
My profoundest objection, though, is that the Church of England has manifestly failed to have a sensible discussion about the inclusion of LGBT people in church and society and so is unable to speak with authority on these questions. Today's statement is another example of the church's ability to shoot itself in the foot. If we as a church are to respond to God's inclusive love for all, then we have to make that love manifest through welcoming gay and lesbian partnerships on equal terms to heterosexual marriage. The Government's consultation is regarding civil marriage ONLY; there is no suggestion of requiring clergy to carry out ceremonies against their will. We already have an example of how individual consciences can be respected in the arrangements over remarriage of divorced people.
By responding in this way the Church of England is appearing more and more sectarian. The statement seems to be prompted by fear - not a helpful starting point. The church is paving the way towards its own disestablishment - it's now at odds both with state and society. Not good.

Giles Goddard

Letter to the Editor of the Times

17th April 2012

A number of recent statements by church leaders past and present may have given the mistaken impression that the Church is universally opposed to the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. We believe that does not adequately reflect the range of opinion which exists within the Church of England.
Marriage is a robust institution which has adapted much over the centuries. It has moved beyond the polygamy of the Old Testament and preoccupation with social status and property in pre-Enlightenment times.
While the Prayer Book states that marriage was ordained first for 'the procreation of children' the modern marriage service begins by emphasising the quality of relationship between marriage partners 'that they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind.'
The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his Church. Growing in this kind of love means we are growing in the image of God. So the fact that there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church.
We welcome current moves by the House of Bishops to consider again its view of civil partnerships and human sexuality. We hope this will lead to a recognition of God’s grace at work in same-sex partnerships and call on the Church to engage in theological discussion and prayerful reflection on the nature of marriage.
We also welcome recent reported statements by the Bishop of Salisbury and the new Dean of St Paul's Cathedral calling on the Church to affirm same-sex couples who want to take on the commitment of marriage.
It is our belief that the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples. It will be for the churches to then decide how they should respond pastorally to such a change in the law.
Canon Giles Goddard, General Synod, Southwark
The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
The Rt Rev Michael Doe
The Rt Rev John Gladwin
The Rt Rev Lord Harries of Pentregarth
The Rt Rev Peter Selby
The Rt Rev David Stancliffe
The Very Rev David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth
The Very Rev Graham Smith, Dean of Norwich
The Very Rev Victor Stock, Dean of Guildford
Mrs April Alexander, General Synod, Southwark
The Rev Stephen Coles, General Synod, London
The Rev Clair Herbert, General Synod, London
Mr John Ward LLB, General Synod, London