Gay Marriage Opponents Are Not 'Bigots,' Says Former Anglican Head

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out on proposals in the U.K to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage, saying that those who support preserving traditional marriage are often unfairly targeted and called "bigots" and "judgmental."

"It is in fact the supporters of traditional marriage who have been accused of bigotry and homophobia -- the kind of intolerant and judgmental language he talks about in his interview," said Lord George Carey, referring to comments made by Nick Herbert, a Conservative Member of Parliament in the U.K.

Lord Carey, responding to accusations that Christian leaders who do not approve of allowing homosexual couples to change the definition of marriage are "intolerant," said that as much as gay activists complain that their rights are not respected, those in support of traditional marriage are also often marginalized with little effort made to understand their reasons.

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"This debate is not about the dignity and rights of gay and lesbian people, who already have the benefits of marriage through civil partnerships, but about a change in the definition of marriage for everyone," said Lord Carey, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.

He insisted that the government's fundamental interest in marriage should be to preserve the institution so that society's next generation has a stable and secure environment in which to grow up.

"Its interest in other kinds of relationship, though it may regard them as of equal esteem, has no pressing importance. To allow the state to interfere in this way in the institution of the family is to establish a very dangerous precedent," the former Archbishop of Canterbury insisted. "The Government claims that it does not seek to alter the Church-state relationship, but its misunderstanding of the legal status of canon law undermines any confidence we can have in their understanding of what establishment means."

The Anglican Communion, headed by current Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, has continuously insisted that the government, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, is wrong in suggesting that the definition of marriage should change by 2015 to include same-sex couples.

"To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gain given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships," declared the Church of England in a statement earlier this month. "We believe that imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise."


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