Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Same-sex marriage statement

A Church of England bishop has told the government that pressing ahead with gay marriage is creating a division between the political classes and practising religious people in Britain.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, was replying to a repeated statement in the Lords on proposals for same-sex civil marriage, on 11 December 2012.

The statement was made earlier in the Commons by Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller, who set out the government's response to a consultation held earlier this year.

The Bishop of Leicester said both the government and the opposition needed to try to get more consensus on same-sex marriage.

He also expressed concerns about the stability of communities and the future teaching of marriage in faith schools.

He asked: "Can the minister assure us that teachers in church schools will not be disciplined for upholding traditional religious teaching?"

The government is bringing forward legislation to allow same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry, but it will be illegal for the Church of England and Church in Wales to offer same-sex marriages.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller told the Commons marriage would be extended to same-sex couples in a civil ceremony and religious organisations which wish to "opt in" to offering ceremonies.

Women and Equalities spokesman Baroness Stowell of Beeston, who was repeating the statement on behalf of the government, assured the Bishop of Leicester that nothing in the proposals would change teaching in schools, and a faith school would be able to continue to teach their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Baroness Stowell added that the government were not seeking to "change society" but were bringing forward changes to "reflect society as it is".

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