LONDON, July 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Some British churchmen have said they believe that, should the government create “gay marriage,” groups will inevitably be forced to participate. Today, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrat party, appeared to confirm these predictions when he said that “at the moment,” it is his opinion that homosexual partners should be allowed to conduct wedding ceremonies in churches.
Clegg told the London Evening Standard during the global Gay Pride events, “This is a personal view at the moment, but I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn’t force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn’t stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage.
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“I don’t see why two individuals who love each other and want to show commitment to each other should not be able to do so in a way that is socially recognized as being marriage,” he said.
John Bingham, the religious affairs editor for the Daily Telegraph, said that Clegg’s comment is only the latest in a series of indications from senior members of the Coalition government that Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise that churches will be exempt from participating is “only temporary.”
A spokesman from the Home Office denied that religious groups would be forced to participate, saying the government would never attempt to force them to act against conscience.
“Marriage is one of the most important institutions we have. It binds us together, it brings stability, and it makes this country stronger. That is why we want to lift the ban on same-sex couples having a civil marriage,” the spokesman said.
“The purpose of the equal civil marriage consultation is to enable us to listen to all views, and we will listen carefully before taking our proposals forward.”
On the first day of the Gay Pride events, Clegg raised a rainbow flag above the Cabinet Office.
He said, “There has to be a first time for everything. Flying this iconic flag in the heart of Whitehall is a small but important emblem that the Government and this country are behind equal rights.”
“I’m absolutely delighted that, with a little bit of persuasion and determination, we’ve been able to fly the rainbow flag for this weekend’s festivities,” Clegg added. “I hope this is the start of a new era of pride across the historic Whitehall village.”
Although there was no mention of it in any of the party’s manifestos and it was not a campaign issue, David Cameron announced in March that the government would be instituting same-sex “marriage,” and that a public consultation on the question would not consider whether, but only how it should be legally instituted. Despite the skepticism of prelates, Cameron has insisted throughout that churches will not be forced to go along.
Liberal Democrats, however, have always supported the idea and Clegg has been open about his enthusiasm for religious participation.
Polls are showing that Cameron has annoyed his political base with the idea, which is widely supported among younger Britons but opposed by older people who represent the majority of his constituency. In May, a ComRes poll found that a majority of MPs also opposed the plans with only one in 25 believing that it is a priority for voters.
Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, said, “This is yet another demonstration, if one was needed, as to why the proposals to rewrite the definition of marriage should be ditched.
“Mr. Clegg, is shifting the goalposts in a totally transparent attempt to garner support for his party ahead of the world pride festival in London.
“He is playing politics with marriage.”