Gay Marriage Push in UK Opposed by 1,000 Priests in Open Letter

More than a quarter of all the Catholic priests in England signed an open letter warning of the severe social and legal consequences of enacting gay marriage laws including a resurgence of "persecution" against Roman Catholics.

Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as several prominent Members of Parliament, have endorsed proposed legislation that would provide for churches in England and Wales to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Cameron has also insisted that gay marriage will be legalized by 2015.

The letter, which was signed by 1,054 Catholic priests along with more than a dozen "senior Catholic figures" and published in the Daily Telegraph, advises that traditional marriage should not be dissolved. If the legislation passes, they warned that it will lead to discrimination against Catholics and will have dire social consequences.

"We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage," the Church said in a statement obtained by the BBC.

Christian organizations have long stated that the issue of gay marriage in the United Kingdom has been purely political; negating the principals that traditional marriage was founded on.

"From the very outset, this proposal has been characterized far more by politics than by principles," David Landrum, director of Evangelical Alliance, previously said in a statement.

"Although the sky won't fall in if the law changes, there will most certainly be a new legal culture imposed that over time will have profound and incalculable consequences for family life and social relations in the U.K.," he added.

Skeptics argue that such a double standard would only complicate the legal process and pose a threat to those religious institutions that choose not to oversee such ceremonies.

"Churches could be embroiled in legal actions … the government seems to have decided that it's better for churches to be sued than for the Government to be sued in the European court," Colin Hart, Campaign Director of Coalition 4Marriage, told the Christian Institute.

"Surely they need to reconsider this rushed legislation, which is jeopardizing the freedoms of those who believe in traditional marriage," he added.

It is still unclear what the potential legal ramifications could be should such a measure be made law, and how that would affect religious institutions who refuse to conduct same-sex ceremonies citing a conflict of conscience.

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