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Page last updated at 07:39 GMT, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 08:39 UK

Church 'under threat' over gay marriage

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Government proposals for gay marriage would dilute an institution "vastly" important to a healthy society, the Church of England has warned.

The Bishop of Leicester, Rt Reverend Tim Stevens, said that if you change the legislation on gay marriage it will have "major consequences for people's understanding of what constitutes marriage".

He believes the present establishment of the church could "come under threat" if gay marriage legislation is challenged.

"This is about the church trying to avoid a sudden and rapid redefinition of marriage," he told the Today programme.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, believes the Church of England's concerns over gay marriage are a "masterclass in melodramatic scaremongering".

"There's no evidence whatsoever that people will take legal cases against the church," he told Sarah Montague.


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