The question as to whether homosexual couples should be allowed to engage in ‘civil marriage’ has caused consternation in the church.
Some faith groups have not only happily welcomed the proposals by the coalition government, but are actively lobbying for it. Quakers, liberal Jews and Unitarians have had meetings with civil servants to discuss the issue.
Last week, the Archbishop of York voiced his disapproval, suggesting a rather unnecessary parallel between dictators and David Cameron.
His argument quoted in the press was primarily that we should not want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and that "it is not the role of the state to define what marriage is".
The first part of the argument is one based on the authority of history and the need to conserve existing institutions and forms of relationship. But we already have civil partnerships, and while the church upholds that this is not marriage, the social structures that Sentamu is talking about have already been redefined. Given that he doesn’t oppose civil partnerships among his own clergy, this part of his argument is hypocritical.