English bishops’ conference weighs in on same-sex civil unions
May 28, 2014
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has issued a statement on a government proposal that would automatically convert same-sex civil unions, which were legalized in 2004, into same-sex marriages, which were legalized in 2013.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, chairman of the conference’s Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, expressed opposition to the proposal.
“Some lesbian and gay Catholics do not wish to enter into civil same-sex marriage because of their deeply held belief that marriage is between a man and a woman only, but still wish to have the legal rights that are contained in a civil partnership,” he said. “The removal of the option for same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships could cause great harm to those Catholics and others.”
“It is important that those who share the protected characteristics of sexuality and religion continue to be able to manifest their religious beliefs whilst not being denied the legal protections that are offered by a civil partnership,” he added.
In a subsequent statement, Archbishop Smith said:
My recent comment on civil partnerships was solely in response to a specific government consultation on whether to abolish civil partnerships or convert them all into marriages in law. My comment should not be misunderstood … I was dealing solely with this issue of conscience which has now arisen given the current law, and my response should not be misinterpreted as a wider commentary on civil partnerships in general.