The much awaited discussion on homosexuality between the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell on Thursday at Lambeth Palace in England ended with both men still convinced in their principles.
"It was a very constructive, engaging meeting. But also quite frank with a number of disagreements," Tatchell said, according to Pink News. "We agreed same-sex relationships can be of extraordinary quality and great moral character. But the archbishop's stumbling block is he couldn't make the further step of acknowledging that justified marriage equality."
The Australian-born British political campaigner continued: "Quite clearly Justin Welby is struggling with how he reconciles Christ's gospel of love and compassion with the church's current position which is to oppose marriage equality. I think he took on board my point that discrimination is not a Christian value."
Lambeth Palace has stated that it will not be commenting on the discussion between the two men, as it was a private matter, but the Anglican leader is still backing the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.
"The Church of England holds very firmly, and continues to hold to the view, that marriage is a lifelong union of one man to one woman," Welby has said. "At the same time, at the heart of our understanding of what it is to be human is the essential dignity of the human being."
Thursday's meeting was in response to Tatchell accusing Welby and traditional marriage supporting Christians of homophobia, whether they accept the label or not. News sources noted that Welby agreeing to hear Tatchell out was a notable event, since the previous archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had turned down such offers in the past.
"Parliament has a right to legislate same-sex marriage … the church has a right to oppose it … I am in favor of the state recognizing same-sex relationships but not in favor of redefining marriage," Welby said.
According to Tatchell, the Anglican leader told him that he believes gay relationships are "intrinsically different and therefore should be acknowledged in a different legislative framework from marriage," as reported by The Independent.
Tatchell said he "pressed him" on how the "church over centuries had evolved on many policies and had once supported slavery, colonialism and the denial of votes for women. These were all traditional church teachings but they have all been changed. So why can't this also change?"
The two disagreed on whether redefining marriage would be a positive for society, Pink News noted, with the archbishop of Canterbury advocating for the traditional family unit of one mother and one father.
Welby agreed, however, that the current ban on heterosexual civil unions should end, and couples should be allowed to choose that option if they so desire.
"He indicated very clearly that he supports an amendment before parliament to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples which is a new development I haven't heard before."