A group of Anglican Church leaders, including some from the General Synod, the Church of England's governing body, has stated in a public letter opposition to the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and a desire for it to include same-sex couples.
Homosexual marriage has been a controversial issue in Britain and especially in the Anglican Church. British Prime Minister David Cameron and several other political groups and leaders in the country want the government to allow same-sex couples, who already can partake in civil unions that allow them many of the same benefits as heterosexual couples, to make vows and marry.
The Church of England stands firm in its support of traditional marriage and says:
"Opening marriage to same-sex couples would confer few if any new legal rights on the part of those already in a civil partnership, yet would require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone."
Its leader, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who is set to retire before the end of the year, also called proposals to change the definition of marriage through law as "very dangerous."
The Anglican group pushing for homosexual marriage, however, has explained that not everyone in the Anglican community agrees with the church's official stance on the matter, and argued that homosexual couples who want to marry and be in committed long-term relationships "should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church."
"Recent statements by church leaders past and present may have given the mistaken impression that the church is universally opposed to the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. We believe that does not adequately reflect the range of opinion which exists within the Church of England," the letter reads.
"The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his Church. Growing in this kind of love means we are growing in the image of God," the letter from the group of dissenting bishops and priests reads.
The full letter was made available on the Thinking Anglicans website, and is signed by some high-ranking Anglican officials, including Canon Giles Goddard, General Synod, Southwark, the Very Rev. Jeffrey John, Dean of St. Albans and the Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham.
Still, plans to legalize same-sex marriage are largely unpopular among Church of England and Roman Catholic Church officials in the country – as well as many church-goers.
More than 400,000 people signed a petition in support of the traditional definition of marriage, the Telegraph reported.
"The proposals are not only unnecessary and unfair, they are also undemocratic. Redefining marriage was not mentioned in the party manifestos. As such, they lack a democratic mandate for introduction. They will give to a few what they want but take from very many what they deeply value. Marriage has served society well and will do in the future. At a time of huge social challenges, marriage needs to protected and promoted, not redefined and rebranded," an official statement by the U.K. Evangelical Alliance concluded.
The man expected to succeed Rowan Williams as Head of the Anglican Church, the Most Rev. Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has also made it clear that under his leadership, the Church of England will continue standing firm to protect the traditional institution of marriage.
"I happen to believe that to change the law in the end would be forcing an unjustified change," Dr Sentamu said earlier last month.