Because today, the British government explicitly threatened to make same-sex marriages illegal in the Church of England and the Church of Wales.
While Britain maintains a thin veneer of progressiveness, this reveals how flimsy that veneer is. While Britain has enjoyed “civil unions” offering same-sex couples many of the same rights and privileges of heterosexual marriage, true equality (something residents of nine US states now recognize) has always escaped them.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Church of England – Britain’s national religion, known in America as the Episcopal Church. While American branches of the church have embraced same-sex unions, and even an openly gay bishop, the Church of England itself is clinging to outdated ideology with their continued ban on gay marriage, and their refusal to ordain female bishops.
The ban itself is being sold under the auspices of “freedom of religion” – with Culture Secretary Maria Miller claiming: “No religious organization will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples, and I would not bring in a Bill which would allow that.”
However, the very nature of the Church of England – and the fact that the government itself has criminalized same-sex marriage performed in an Anglican church – takes this issue a step beyond “freedom of religion” and into the arena of national policy.
But there’s some good news – the ban itself is still up for a vote, and even amongst the Conservative party pitching the bill, there is substantial opposition to the bill.
"I believe this is a mistake,” explains Conservative MP Stewart Jackson. “It's a very divisive issue and an unnecessary piece of legislation. It is fundamentally an un-Conservative policy and if Prime Minister David Cameron) presses ahead with this it will be a disaster for the party and the country."
While most votes in England are controlled by a “whip” (a party member who pressures members of their party to vote in accordance with official party policy) this bill is being put to a “free vote” – which means members of the majority Conservative party and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners will be able to vote as their conscience dictates.
And hopefully that will be against making gay marriage illegal.