The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell stated that ‘the Church of England seeks to welcome all people’, including those in civil partnerships and same-sex marriages but explained that ‘the reason we are having this discussion is that there are questions about how this welcome can be expressed’.
He said that the amendment introduces ‘a discordant note into your Lordships’ consideration of a Bill which is otherwise uncontentious and likely to receive clear support’.
He said that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 ‘seeks to strike a balance between the right of individuals to marry a person of the same sex, and the rights of churches and other religious bodies — and of their ministers — to act in a way consistent with their religious beliefs’.
“No religious body or minister of religion is compelled to solemnise such a marriage,” he said.
He pointed out that in its second report on the then Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said that ‘religious liberty, as granted under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights is a collective as well as individual right’.
It stated that religious organisations have the right to determine and administer their doctrinal and internal religious affairs without interference from the state.
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