Dr John Sentamu: Gay Marriage Plans Are For 'Emotional Need' Not Righting Injustice
Plans to introduce same-sex marriage have only been tabled to meet an “emotional need” not to right an injustice, the Archbishop of York argues today.
Dr John Sentamu: Don't force through gay marriage
Church leaders such as the Archbishop of York are fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage Photo: PA
Dr John Sentamu insists that changing the definition of marriage would diminish its meaning for the majority while achieving “little if anything” for homosexual rights.
It comes as he set out his views in detail for the first time following a storm of controversy over a Daily Telegraph interview in which he first voiced opposition to a change in the law.
He received a flood of correspondence including some racist abuse and even saw protests outside York Minster after the interview in January in which he argued that it was not for the state to redefine marriage.
He was the first senior cleric to comment publicly on the plans which are now the subject of a Government consultation.
In a detailed response paper, to be published today, the Archbishop argues that civil partnerships, introduced in 2004, should be allowed to establish themselves before any further change in the law is considered.
Dr Sentamu writes that homosexual couples should enjoy complete equality with heterosexuals but argues that this does not mean redefining marriage.
He also acknowledges that the Church has been “complicit” in “discrimination and sometimes worse” against gay people in the past.
“There is much penance to be done before we can look our homosexual brothers and sisters in the eye,” he writes.
“But that baleful history does not diminish the need to speak the truth in love.”
He explains: “Up to now, the only reason I have been given for a desire to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex relationships is that it meets an emotional need of some same-sex couples (only some, as I have forcefully been led to believe some reject the concept of marriage altogether).
“If the rights of civil partners are met differently in law to those of married couples, there is no discrimination in law, and if civil partnerships are seen as somehow ‘second class’ that is a social attitude which will change and cannot, in any case, be turned around by redefining the law of marriage.
“It may even make social attitudes go in reverse gear.
“So I submit that to use the law to redefine marriage when there is no legal inequity involved is a misuse of the statute.
“It must never be used to give comfort or reassurance but to remedy an injustice.”
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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