CNN has reported that the British Parliament has taken initial steps to make same-sex marriage legal in the United Kingdom. In spite of strong resistance by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, the measure received an initial vote of approval 400-175. According to the report, the measure must still receive another vote in the House of Commons and a vote in the House of Lords.
While the Conservative Party in the UK has opposed the legislation, Prime Minister Cameron has been supportive of the measure. He has considered it to be an issue of equality while still claiming to support marriage.
This should prove interesting since the Church of England officially opposes the legislation, yet it is the state church. CNN notes:
As drafted, the bill would enable religious organizations to choose to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish and includes provisions intended to make sure no religious organization or person is forced to do so.
The Church of England is among the religious bodies opposed to the legislation.
The Church of England also sent a brief to Parliament citing its objection. The news report states:
The Church of England also outlined its objections to the bill in a briefing note sent to lawmakers Friday.
It cannot support the legislation “because of its concern for the uncertain and unforeseen consequences for wider society and the common good when marriage is redefined in gender-neutral terms,” it said.
While the reported objection is probably not the full reasoning, the Church of England brings up a good point. When marriage becomes gender-neutral, it is automatically separated from procreation. Marriage is then defined in terms of emotion. Once intensity of emotional bond becomes the definition of marriage, other forms of marriage must be approved. These include polygamy, polyamory, and ultimately incestuous marriage.
This will be a big defeat for supporters of traditional marriage. It will also prove to be a source of tension for the Church of England as it attempts to serve as the state church while opposing the law. My guess is that the Church of England (in England) will ultimately be forced to comply if this law is enacted.
We will be well-served to see what happens in the UK because it may be the future in the United States.
Laura Smith-Spark and Atika Shubert, “UK lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in first vote,” CNN.com, February 5, 2013.