On 15 July the House of Lords gave assent to the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex)Bill without taking a formal vote.
Baroness Stowell told the chamber packed with peers wearing pink carnations that it was an ‘historic’ achievement. Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said, ‘It’s impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends’. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt. Rev Graham James, said that legal recognition for gay relationships had made society ‘healthier’.
During the bill’s report stage in the Lords, only a handful of bishops had been present, and they hadn’t always voted. Andrea Minichiello Williams, who is a member of General Synod, has written to Archbishop Justin Welby, asking for an explanation.
She said: ‘I am surprised that the Church of England appears to be vacating the public square when it comes to the issue of marriage’.
Colin Hart, of the Christian Institute and the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) wrote to supporters: ‘I have been praying earnestly that this Bill would not succeed … It was right for Christians to pray against this bill; it was the right thing to do and we can still pray that the nation would return to the correct view of marriage’.
He continued: ‘Our society doesn’t deserve God’s mercy, given the way marriage and family values have been denigrated over the decades. God sometimes allows, or hands over, a nation to go the wrong way so that it experiences the consequences of its actions…’
‘Unlike past gay rights issues, this bill was not initiated by homosexual lobby groups … No, this bill was initiated by the Prime Minister in Downing Street as a political rebranding exercise, and it was only possible with the strong backing of the Liberal Democrats and Labour…
‘Parliament can’t change what is hard wired into the nature of our existence. They could pass a bill saying the moon is made of cheese, but it doesn’t make it so. Marriage remains the union of a man and a woman, whatever the politicians say about legal marriage.
‘Marriage predates British law, and it will carry on into the future. Jesus said marriage will exist right up to the end of the world, so we can take comfort in that (Matthew 24:37-38)’.
Mr Hart is also reported as saying, ‘Mr Cameron needs to remember that the C4M has nearly 700,000 supporters, nearly six times the number of members of the Conservative Party’.