The Church of England appears prepared to accept the imminent passage of a gay marriage bill in Britain and Wales.

The church has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed bill, which would make Britain the 15th nation to legalize such unions.

During a House of Lords debate held on Tuesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told colleagues that he could not support the bill because it would diminish and devalue marriage.

“The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost. The idea [of] marriage as covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, predating the state, and as our base community of society, as we have already heard, is weakened,” he said.

But after roughly 3 hours of debate, members approved the measure, leaving little doubt that the bill will become law.

In a brief statement released Wednesday, Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, who leads the bishops in the House of Lords, said that the church would now work to “improve” the bill.

“Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales,” Stevens wrote. “It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape.”

“The Bill now requires improvement in a number of other respects, including in its approach to the question of fidelity in marriage and the rights of children.”

Other opposition groups reacted decidedly differently to Tuesday's vote.

The Coalition for Marriage, the largest group lobbying against the bill's passage, released a video in which it insisted that the debate was not yet over.

“The bill has several hurdles to overcome in the House of Lords and it could yet fall,” Dr. Sharon James says in the clip.

(Related: UK gay marriage foes say bill “could yet fall.”)