Rowan Williams, the archbishop of
Canterbury and head of the Church of England, has criticized an
effort to legalize gay marriage in Britain, arguing it would impose
The UK's Conservative Party last
September unveiled plans to make gay nuptials legal in Britain before
2015. The Conservative Party, Britain's largest political party,
governs in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Prime Minister
David Cameron, who helms the Conservative Party, supports the move.
Great Britain currently recognizes gay
and lesbian couples with civil partnerships, which offer most of the
legal protections of marriage.
In a major speech on human rights to a
World Council of Churches gathering in Geneva, Williams sided with
other leading clergy who have launched a campaign to derail the
“Law must prohibit publicly abusive
and demeaning language, it must secure institutions that do not
systematically disadvantage any category of the community,”
told colleagues. “But these tasks remain 'negative' in force.
If it is said, for example, that a failure to legalize assisted
suicide – or indeed same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or
marginalization for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that
issues like stigma and marginalization have to be addressed at the
level of culture rather than law, the gradual evolving of fresh
attitudes in a spirit of what has been called 'strategic patience' by
some legal thinkers.”
Williams, who as leader of the Church
of England is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, of
which the Episcopal Church is the American branch, has previously
protested the American church's increasingly liberal attitude toward
the issue of gay marriage.
The government is expected to release a
consultation document detailing its plans on the law in March.