Anglican bishops in House of Lords were pressured to withdraw from gay ‘marriage’ vote: report

Fears that the bill might be defeated with the help of the bishops were unfounded. The bill passed overwhelmingly in its first vote, 390 – 148 in favor.
Wed Jun 5, 2013 - 5:55 pm EST

WESTMINSTER, June 5, 2013 ( – Anglican bishops who sit in the House of Lords and oppose the same-sex “marriage” bill were put under pressure to keep away from the vote on the bill yesterday. John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor of the Daily Telegraph, reported that “senior officials” of the government had “personally urged bishops to stay away from this week’s vote.” 

Bingham explains that there were fears that a large bloc of Christian clergy – 26 bishops are entitled to sit in the House of Lords – voting against the “gay marriage” bill could have an impact on the future of their presence in the House, and even re-open the question of disestablishment of the Church of England. The bishops were reportedly told that the current bill is the “best they can hope for”.

Fears that the bill might be defeated with the help of the bishops were unfounded. The bill passed overwhelmingly in its first vote, 390 – 148 in favor. 


Prior to the vote a letter, signed by 30 Evangelical and Pentecostal church leaders, was delivered to the headquarters of the Church of England at Lambeth Palace, urging the bishops to vote against the bill, saying that the vote is a “defining point” for the Church.

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“For the sake of society, we provide an alternative perspective to society,” they wrote.

“We therefore implore you to seize this opportunity to speak boldly and clearly at a critical juncture in the life of our nation, to vote against this bill and to urge all other Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords to do the same.” 

In his address to the House of Lords earlier this week, Church of England head Dr. Justin Welby said that he could not support he bill. Welby said that while he believes the Church of England has failed adequately to serve the “LGBT communities,” nevertheless, he and many of his colleagues “remain with considerable hesitations about this bill."

In the bill, he said, “marriage is abolished, redefined and recreated.” 

“The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost,” Welby said. “The idea of marriage as covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, pre-dating the state and as our base community of society…is weakened.” 

Welby added that “equality” is not necessarily the same thing as “uniformity,” and that the bill fails “to understand that two things may be equal but different”. He noted, moreover, that the bill actually separates and distinguishes between “same-gender and opposite-gender marriage, thus not achieving true equality”. It presents two versions of marriage that are “different and unequal for different categories”.

“The new marriage of the bill is an awkward shape, with same-gender and different-gender categories scrunched into it, neither fitting well,” Welby said.

He explained that those religious leaders who are “hesitant” about the bill, think that “traditional marriage is a cornerstone of society and rather than adding a new and valued institution alongside it for same-gender relationships – which I would personally strongly support – to strengthen us all, this bill weakens what exists and replaces it with a less good option that is neither equal nor effective.”

  gay marriage, house of lords, uk

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