Church of England
Church of England Cautions Against Gay Marriage Proposal Reuters

The Church of England (COE) has issued a warning against the same-sex marriage proposal by the government saying it would dilute the very institution of marriage.

The Church was responding to a government proposal to open same-sex marriage legislation by 2015.

The Church said it would be forced to stop performing wedding ceremonies on behalf of the state if the government legalised gay marriage.

The Church's response has attracted criticism from gay marriage supporters.

"Such a change [same-sex marriage] would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history," the Church statement said.

The Church insisted that marriage is benefiting society in many ways not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which includes, for many, the possibility of procreation.

It said creating "civil" and "religious" marriages will dilute the institution for everyone.

"We continue to be supportive of the gay community and want to see that inclusion in our society increased and developed. I think the difficulty we have here is the substitution of equality for uniformity, that is to say that there can be no distinction at all between men and women," Sky News quoted Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, as saying.

The minister of parish is bound to conduct the marriage for any resident of England who has the legal right to marry in his/her Church of England parish church regardless of their religion.

The government has been consulting on the issue since 2012 and the consultation closes on 14 June 2012.

The Church's strong response to the proposal is expected to create problems for David Cameron's coalition since the prime minister has already spoken out in support of same-sex marriage.

"There's manifestly no evidence that the recognition of long-term same-sex relationships has any impact on the institution of marriage for heterosexuals. It seems odd that the Church of England should be obsessing about a few thousand gay couples once again when there are currently three million children in Britain living in single-parent households," the BBC quoted Stonewall's chief executive Ben Summerskill as saying.

The Home Office responded to the Church's view saying the office will carefully consider its views before publishing the outcomes of the proposal.

Church of England warning on Gay Marriage IBTimes TV