The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England was formally launched in April 2019 to campaign for changes in the Church to remove the current discrimination against married same-sex couples in the Church and to enable same-sex couples to be married in their parish church – in other words, for all married or engaged couples to be treated the same, no matter what their gender, sex or sexual orientation.
The campaign, known as ‘Equal‘ for short, is just that – a campaign. It is not a membership organization, or a charity, or a company limited by guarantee. You can’t join it or vote at an AGM. We are a single-issue campaign.
What anyone can do is support us, and we hope you will! (Especially by signing up as a Supporter.) You can pray for us and for change in the Church, subscribe to receive website updates, donate to the Campaign, tell others about the Campaign, wear an ‘Equal’ badge, give badges to your friends, and offer to help us in our work.
For information about our logo (in its various forms) see here.
Aims of the Campaign
- For same-sex couples to be able to be married in Church of England parishes.
- For people in such marriages to have the same opportunities for lay and ordained ministry in the Church of England as anyone else.
- We believe that the consciences of everyone should be protected – no member of the clergy should be forced to conduct a marriage they disagree with. No member of the clergy should be prevented from celebrating a marriage of a same-sex couple.
Equal’s organizational structure is as simple as possible:
We have our own bank account, for expenses and to receive donations; all money will be spent to achieve the campaign’s aims (see above).
There is a small Organising Group, consisting of lay and ordained members of the Church of England, both women and men, single and married. The team currently contains people who are straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual. At the time of writing they include those listed in the table below.
The Campaign’s Organising Group
|The Revd Dr Nick Bundock|
I’m the rector of St James and Emmanuel Church in the suburbs of Manchester. Some of you will know the church as the home of the BBC Daily Service until quite recently. In 2014 our broadly evangelical church was devastated by the suicide of one of our most committed teenagers, Lizzie Lowe. One of the contributing factors behind Lizzie’s tragic decision was a perceived conflict between her sexuality and her faith.
|Lizzie’s death started a journey of repentance for our church leading to a position of radical inclusion. This journey has unleashed so much life and joy in our community, and therefore supporting the godly desire of two same-sex individuals to marry in Church of England parishes is a natural progression in our journey toward a more inclusive church.|
I’ve been in a committed relationship with my partner Celia since 2014, the year same-sex marriage became legal in this country for all but the Church of England. Marriage has long been something we have hoped to be able to celebrate together – and I have been openly told by numerous members of Church of England clergy how much they would love to perform the ceremony for us, if only it were legal to do so.
|Given that we’re both people of faith, it would feel bizarre to have a marriage ceremony that avoided the slightest mention of God – which is what a civil ceremony would necessitate. How sad it would be to miss out on the richness of the music from the Anglican choral tradition we both love, and to lose the inspiring vows that we’ve heard so many straight couples promise to one another in front of their friends.
How long must we wait? In the meantime, how many more will turn away from the church out of impatience, pain or simply disgust?
I live in Milton Keynes with my husband and our three children. By day I support vulnerable young people to reach their full potential and all other times I’m a fundraising, volunteering, baking, ice hockey, football, ballet mum! Amongst the chaos of my life, eight years ago I became a Christian and the love of Jesus became the lens that I now view everything through.
For years, rather naively, I wasn’t aware of the rejection that my LGBTQIA+ friends had experienced from the Church. I am absolutely certain that this exclusion and inequity is not of the God I have come to know and love.
|The Church married my husband and me 17 years ago without question, with very little interest in our beliefs but satisfied that as a heterosexual couple we fulfilled the requirements of a Christian marriage. Any suggestion that our relationship is any more faithful or loving or any more a gift from God than those of our same-sex couple friends is outrageous.
I believe that withholding the blessing of being married in church, in the eyes of a God who loves us all unconditionally, is cruel and I am totally committed to the Equal Campaign.
|The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain|
I’ve been a Christian since I was 17, and in ordained ministry for nearly 30 years. I am married to my ever-tolerant husband, Stephen, and we live in the Peak District most of the time.
|I am part of this Campaign because I believe in the Church of England, that it has a role and a place in England and should be doing better in the way it treats many of its members. My hope is that the C of E might one day be what it promises – a place of welcome and acceptance for all people. Just at the moment that isn’t the case, but it could be and should be, and with prayer and hard work I believe it will be.|
I have been a Christian since my teens and an Anglican almost as long; I have served my current parish church as a churchwarden and as a creator of liturgy. I am bisexual and was in a committed relationship with my male partner Andrew for 20 years (before marriage was possible for us); I am now in an equally committed relationship with my wife Rose.
|Having begun my life of faith as a fundamentalist struggling with my sexuality, I have moved over the decades to a deeper understanding of myself, Scripture, and God’s love and justice. Since the mid-1970s I have witnessed and campaigned for the full acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church. Rose and I believe that Christian marriage in church should be open to all couples without distinction.|
|The Revd Stephen O’Connor|
I am a curate in the Church of England and live in the lovely seaside town of Deal near Dover with my civil partner of 21 years Pascal and our cat Toby. I was brought up Roman Catholic but experienced a re-awakening of my faith in my early twenties during Billy Graham’s ‘Mission England’ campaign in 1984. Whilst training as a nurse in London, I underwent conversion therapy with the then ‘Living Waters’ programme, and met many like me who had been variously affected by different churches’ responses to LGBTQIA+ issues; these ranged from abusive attempts to ‘exorcise’ the demon of homosexuality to the loving care of people in a marvellous south London Baptist church who simply loved me for who I was even as I started dating and proudly sang with the London Gay Men’s Chorus before meeting Pascal, my best friend and soulmate, whom I thank God for every day. He has sacrificed more than I perhaps in living within the Church of England’s current guidelines on same-sex relationships so that I might follow my dream of ministry within the Church, so it is for him and subsequent generations of LGBTQIA+ Christians that I have joined this Campaign.
|I do not want them to have to endure the same negative experiences or limitations that I have had to, and want their love and their loves to be recognised as any other person’s might be: socially, morally, spiritually, and – especially for me as a priest – liturgically. As a rite of passage and an essential social, psychological and anthropological institution, marriage is older than Christianity, and speaks to a far greater wisdom in which God said ‘it is not good for humans to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). Fortunately, as a result of our improved understanding of sex, gender and identity, many in society have seen the necessity of equal marriage as the means by which LGBTQIA+ people can embrace and celebrate their lifelong, committed and loving relationships if they wish to do so. I hope and pray that the Church of England will soon recognise the wisdom and necessity of this decision as both a missional and pastoral imperative, and a recognition of the equal dignity and importance that God places on every such relationship.|
|The Revd Nigel Pietroni|
Having worshipped in the Church of England since the age of four, I trained for ordained ministry at Ridley Hall in Cambridge and was priested in 2002. Since then I have served the Church in a variety of settings including post-industrial and deeply rural parishes in Norfolk. For 25 years I was in a heterosexual marriage and had three children. I came out as gay in 2017 and left parish ministry, with the inevitable pain that this caused to us all. I am now married to my wonderfully supportive husband, Christopher; we live in Birmingham and I have two stepsons.
|As a married gay priest I have experienced at first hand the pain that the Church’s position on issues of sexuality and equal marriage has inflicted on LGBTQIA+ lay members and clergy alike. Despite all I have gone through, I remain committed to the Church of England. I have joined the Campaign in the hope that one day the Church will be a place where all are truly welcome and where all can marry irrespective of their sexuality.|
I live in Somerset, studied theology at Westminster College, Oxford, and have been in licensed lay ministry since 2007. I have previously worked in diocesan administration and currently combine running a business with family and ministry commitments. I am married to Janet and have two children.
|When I married in 1995 it was important for my wife and me to commit to each other in church and before God. As a straight couple this was a free choice for us to make and there was never a question that the church might turn us away. I am supporting the Equal Marriage campaign because I believe LGBTQIA+ couples should have the same opportunity that the church gave to us.|
|The Revd Dr Daniel Trott|
I'm the Team Vicar of All Saints’, Putney Common, in the Diocese of Southwark. I was brought up going to a Baptist church in Brighton, but at university I discovered an inclusive form of Anglicanism, and that's where I've stayed. Both in the Baptist Church and in the Church of England I have encountered teaching on sex and sexuality that has the capacity to cause great harm, and I feel strongly that things need to change.
|I grew up believing that God loves me for who I am (a gay man), and I believe that the Church of England should afford same-sex relationships the same dignity as opposite-sex relationships. I have joined this Campaign at this time because I hope that the publication of Living in Love and Faith represents the possibility of real change in this area, and I want to contribute to that change.|
|The Revd Brenda Wallace|
I was born and brought up in Essex, from where I went to Lincoln Theological College to train as a deaconess. I was licensed in 1980 and was subsequently one of the first women in the Church to be ordained deacon and then, in 1994, as priest. I have recently retired from full-time parish ministry but continue to be active in the group of parishes where I live. I also serve as a spiritual director and am one of the small team leading the Diocesan Spiritual Companionship training course. I am also in the final stages of submitting my thesis for a PhD, and am a member of General Synod.
|My experience of the debates around the ordination of women have made me passionate about every aspect of equality in the Church. In recent years I have become increasingly frustrated at the way the Church excludes people in a committed same-sex relationship from discerning their vocation to licensed ministry, and also refuses to allow clergy to joyfully celebrate same-sex marriages in church. I am part of this Campaign to support work to end this institutionalised discrimination in the Church of England.|
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