Rebel Church of England clergy will bless gay marriages carried out in other churches if Anglicans are exempted from a new law on same-sex marriage, some 150 vicars and campaigners said in a letter published on Sunday.
Anglicans including ex-Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries and dozens of clergy wrote to the Sunday Telegraph saying they would advise gay parishioners to marry in Quaker or Unitarian services, then return to their regular church.
Gay Church of England vicars may even choose to get married in other churches themselves, the letter says.
“If the bill is enacted in its present form, in 2014 married lesbian and gay Anglicans, lay and ordained, will be worshipping and ministering in parishes of the Church of England,” the letter says.
“The Church of England needs to relinquish its exemption from the equal marriage bill and address the expectation of the majority in every parish that it will continue to offer pastoral care to every citizen, including gay couples and their children.”
The government said Tuesday it was proposing to allow same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies, but will ban the established Churches of England and Wales from conducting ceremonies.
Setting out the plans, culture minister Maria Miller told parliament the Church of England and its equivalent in Wales had expressed strong opposition to gay marriage.
Therefore the government will “explicitly state” that it will be illegal for those churches to marry same-sex couples, she said.
But the new law will allow other religious institutions to “opt in” to offer gay marriage ceremonies.
Despite the church’s objections to gay marriage, a significant minority in the church supports carrying out gay weddings. Other religious groups, including Unitarians and Quakers, have said they wish to carry out the ceremonies.