The Church of England attacked government’s plan to allow gay couples to marry, saying on Tuesday it was ill thought out and risked creating the biggest rift between the state and the Church for centuries. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government wants to extend the full legal status of marriage to homosexuals, who have since 2005 been able to contract unions known as civil partnerships.
The plan has provoked anger from church leaders including the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and some within Cameron’s own Conservative party who accuse the government of interfering in religious matters. In its formal response to the proposals, the Church of England said the move would change the “intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman”.
“Several major elements of the government’s proposals have not been thought through properly and are not legally sound,” the Church said in its official response.
The Church of England forms part of the structure of the state and is headed by Queen Elizabeth.
“The consultation overlooks the implication of what is proposed for the position of the established Church,” it said. “We also believe that imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise.”