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Protest against Archbishop of York anti gay marriage quotes


8:12am 1st February 2012
(Updated 11:35am 1st February 2012)

Comments made by the Archbishop of York about gay marriage are to be protested against later.

It follows an interview Doctor John Sentimu had with the Daily Telegraph where he suggested marriage should only be between a man and woman.

A peaceful demonstration by gay marriage supporters will be held outside the Minster at 1pm but it's not expected to disrupt any services at the Minster.

The government will open a consultation on the issue of same-sex marriages in March.

Below is part of the interview with the Daily Telegraph:

Q: The recent Good Childhood Report that you launched stated that relationships were the most important. Do you think that the Church should reach out to people from different types of family?

The study was based over a period of 7 years and it was a subjective study of their happiness. All wanted to live in a home with a stable loving relationships. My view, as a Parish Priest, was not to stigmatise single parents, my job was to support them in looking after their children. We had an extended family relationship with them.

My view, as a Parish Priest, was not to look at cohabiting parents and say your relationship is a second-class sort of marriage. My job was to support them as they raised their children.

My view, as a Parish Priest, was that for couples in same-sex relationships, I should support them and their children.  “Sentamu, don’t diminish their relationships, support them.”

And in my village in Uganda, when I was growing up, there were two men living together in a house a few doors away from us.  Everyone said they were in “a same-sex relationship”.  My father was clear that we should treat them with the same respect as others and, as a Reader in the Church, he always encouraged them to come to church and to all church functions.

I believe that marriage is the bedrock of society. It is a gift from God in Creation. It has a public element, a public commitment made to one another and to the community. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.  Already in marriage, there are the ingredients of stability that children are looking for.

What we shouldn't do is begin to create comparisons of the different family structures because I think that's a dead end conversation.

Marriage is in creation, whether you're Christian or not, there isn't such a thing as “a Christian marriage” - marriage is marriage is marriage. The faith of course can help support it, but we've got to honour the institution of marriage – the Holy Estate.

I've known people who were atheists who were very loving and caring in terms of that relationship. The only thing I said to them was it would be much easier if they knew that the source of romance is God.

We must not torture the English language. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman and that's marriage.

We supported Civil Partnerships (the bishops in the House of Lords), because we believe that friendships are good for everybody.

But then to turn Civil Partnerships into marriage, that's not the role of government to create institutions that are not of its gifting.

I don't think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can't just overnight, no matter how powerful you are. We've seen dictators do it, by the way, in different contexts and I don't want to redefine what I call very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

And the Equality Act regulations are very clear that if people want those registrations to take place on their premises - not the blessings or the weddings - it would require first of all an application to the Registrar to have that place authorised and it would require the organisation as a whole to agree. For us, that decision can only be taken by the General Synod, it cannot be taken by bishops or anybody else.

Q: Are you worried that the Church will be the odd one out, if everyone else is in favour?

Sometimes it's not a bad position to be the odd person out. I believe that for the Christian faith is acceptable in nearly every culture but it's not at home in any because the tendency of cultures is to domesticate the love of God and I don't think that's possible. The Church has always stood out - Jesus actually was the odd man out. I'd rather stick with Jesus than be popular because it looks odd.

That does not mean you therefore diminish, condemn, criticise, patronise any sort of same-sex relationships because that is not what the debate is about.

Q: We’ve just seen a famous victory in the House of Lords. Do you think the Lords Spiritual will be ready for this sort of challenge?

I don't know how many bishops were there, maybe five, six, seven, but that's a tiny number to upset a government. It requires some Liberal members, some people from the Tory party and nearly all the Labour party to get an upset.

I think the upset is not going to begin in the House of Lords, but in the House of Commons. We already have, we hear, 100 MPs signing up that they're trying against to change this tradition.

It's almost like somebody telling you overnight that the church - whose job is to worship God, is to care for people who need support, to be there to persuade people that loving one another is a wonderful thing – let’s suppose suddenly the government saying from now on the Church will be an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight, every Bishop shall become a Major. You're completely changing the tradition. No way!

So the rebellion is going to come not only from the bishops. I think you're going to get it from across the benches and in the House of Commons. If you genuinely would like the registration of civil partnerships to happen in a more general way, I think most people will say they can see the drift. But if you then begin to call those marriage, I think you're trying to change the English language.

And I'm not sure people should simply sit back because they don't want to be seen the odd person out. But I hope also they do it with such great care and great loving and don't be involved in a skirmish. What we should be focusing on is fairness, justice and getting away from all kinds of bigotry. I support civil partnerships.


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