‘Do Christians really oppose gay marriage?’
Homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, Scotland in 1980, and Northern Ireland in 1982. As this debate took place, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was going through Parliament to introduce civil marriage for same sex couples in England and Wales, with legal safeguards to exempt religious organisations from conducting ceremonies.
Our YouGov survey found an overall majority (52%) in favour of same-sex marriage and an even split among religious people, with those who identify as Anglican and Catholic supporting it by a small margin despite the churches’ official opposition. Muslims and Baptists are the most opposed among religious groups, with other predictors for opposition being age (60+), gender (male) and taking moral authority from God or scripture and religious teachings.
The poll also explored the reasons for approval and opposition to same-sex marriage: Christians who support same-sex marriage do so because they believe in equality and faithful love; Christians who oppose it do so because they believe in traditional marriage, family, and gender-roles.
While church leaders voice their opposition, half of all religious people in Britain are now in favour of allowing same-sex marriage
“I shall be supporting it in the House of Lords … I don’t think this is a question about what the Catholic Church could or could not do. This is a question of what the state should and should not do.”
Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer)
“The Church needs to revaluate the more profound question about how it includes gay people and then it will be able to sort out its position over gay marriage.”
“I don’t think being a faithful Catholic means completely accepting and not questioning whether there’s not a richer understanding of same-sex sacramental marriage that could be affirmed within faith communities.”
“To admit gay marriage in the Church would be to undo Christian doctrine.”
Some media reaction
Given that the churches have really pulled out the big guns and made this the big issue that they are going to stand on, it is surprising that not even half of active churchgoers are opposed.
Linda Woodhead, quoted by John Bingham in the Daily Telegraph, 17 April 2013
Overall, all those who identified with a religion were evenly split on allowing same-sex couples to marry, with 43% for and 43% against.
Christianity Today, quoting the YouGov survey findings, 17 April 2013
The section of religious people most opposed to same-sex marriage is made up of those who both believe in God with certainty and make decisions primarily on the basis of explicit religious sources – God, scriptures, teachings and religious leaders.
National Secular Society Newsletter, quoting the YouGov survey findings, 19 April 2013
Read the Church of England’s statements on same-sex marriage and human sexuality here
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement represents the interests of lesbian and gay Christians, and the website includes a Resources section
Steve Chalke’s statement, ‘A matter of integrity: the church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation’
This event was held at QEIICC, Westminster, Thursday 18 April 2013