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Religious leaders seek more debate over same-sex marriage
Religious leaders in Wiltshire plan to consult their congregations after MPs’ decision to approve same-sex marriage in a House of Commons vote on Tuesday.
During the landmark debate, 400 MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with 175 opposing it.
The Bill has passed through the second reading stage in the Commons and is now set for further parliamentary scrutiny. It will need to be accepted by the House of Lords and given royal assent before it is can become law.
Archdeacon of Wiltshire, the Venerable Ruth Worsley, said: “While many in the Church of England will have welcomed the passing of the gay marriage vote in the House of Commons, the Church as a whole is unable to support the measure at this time.
“However, I wish to emphasise that everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation, is welcome in our churches.”
The Rev David Ellis, of the United Church, in Trowbridge, said he expected churches of different faiths to respond to the vote in different ways.
He said: “The debate was done in a careful way and what the church needs to do now is reflect on what has been said and respond to that after a debate has taken place.
“We all need to know what our congregations have to say and approach this subject very sensitively and respectfully.
“I think it will be interesting to see what the different leaderships bring to the debate.”
MP Andrew Murrison received correspondence for and against the Bill from constituents, voting in favour of it after considering the arguments on both sides.
He said: “We have had civil partnership for same sex couples for nearly a decade and same sex marriage is, for all practical purposes, the same thing.
“Consequently, examining the Bill, I was unable to find any credible objection in what seemed to me to be the largely semantic changes proposed.”
The Rev Dr Rob Thomas, of St James Church, Trowbridge, said: “I would support the Church of England’s position on this.
“The matter has been brought forward without discussion and raises serious theological issues which it would have good to debate.
“The change the Government is proposing is going to have a profound effect on the institution of marriage.”
Chippenham Constituency MP Duncan Hames said: “I took part in Parliament’s first debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill listening to thoughtful and at times moving speeches.
"My own small contribution was to ask the Minister about those marriage registrars who felt unable to preside at same sex marriages who may fear for their jobs. I decided to support the Bill.”