As England and Wales geared up for the start of same – sex weddings as of midnight early today, the Cutting Edge Consortium and the LGBTI Anglican Coalition held a press conference and issued a joint press release yesterday (Friday 28th), announcing that a range of religious leaders from diverse faith backgrounds had signed a letter of support for the dawn of marriage equality in England and Wales:
We rejoice that from tomorrow same-sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales.
As persons of faith, we welcome this further development in our marriage law, which has evolved over the centuries in response to changes in society and in scientific knowledge.
We acknowledge that some (though not all) of the faith organisations to which we belong do not share our joy, and continue to express opposition in principle to such marriages. We look forward to the time, sooner rather than later, when all people of faith will feel able to welcome this development.
Martin Pendergast, chair of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, has released a statement in support, on behalf of CSCS:
The Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality(CSCS) welcomes the support for same-sex marriage expressed by a number of religious leaders from different faith communities in a statement issued today, 28 March 2014. CSCS would also like to highlight the growing acceptance of same-sex unions, including their religious celebration, by grass-roots believers, congregations, and organisations from a variety of faith traditions.
Signatories to the CEC / LGBTI Anglican Coalition letter included senior office bearers of Liberal Judaism, the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, Quakers in Britain, the Movement for Reform Judaism and the Metropolitan Community Church, North London, and Revd Steve Chalke of Oasis.
Anglican signatories included one serving and seven former Anglican bishops and five Anglican deans. A second serving bishop, Nick Holtam of Salisbury, was not named in the published list of signatories, but has released an independent statement in support of gay marriage, and praising the courage of those couples planning to wed.
This mood of celebration was also expressed in a leader article in Church Times, which noted (in part):
THE first same-sex marriages this weekend will be occasions of celebration. At the political level, an inequality has been remedied. At a personal level, the virtues of love, commitment and faithfulness will be proclaimed publicly, as they are at every wedding. All of this is to be celebrated, as it was this week in a letter signed by clergy in Camden, north London: “We pray for all those who are marrying this year – that they may find rich comfort and blessing in each other for the whole of their life together.”
The full list of signatories to the CEC / LGBTI Anglican Coalition letter is:
Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism
Revd Sharon Ferguson, Senior Pastor, MCC North London
Revd Steve Chalke, Oasis
Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Richard Lewis, former Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Peter Selby, former Bishop of Worcester
Rt Revd John Saxbee, former Bishop of Lincoln
Rt Revd Michael Doe, Preacher to Gray’s Inn, former Bishop of Swindon
Rt Revd David Gillett, former Bishop of Bolton
Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, former Bishop of Hulme
Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
Very Revd Jonathan Draper, Dean of Exeter
Very Revd Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely
Very Revd Lister Tonge, Dean of Monmouth
Very Revd Mark Beach, Dean of Rochester