LONDON, June 6 (UPI) -- The Church of England will focus on improving same-sex marriage legislation instead of trying to stop it, a leading bishop said Wednesday.
The Right Rev. Tim Stevens, bishop of Leicester and convener of the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords, issued a brief statement a day after the upper house of Parliament rejected an amendment designed to kill the bill, The Daily Telegraph reported. Stevens said he and other bishops would join efforts in the Lords to provide stronger protections for officials with conscientious objections to marrying same-sex couples.
"Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales," Stevens said. "It is now the duty and responsibility of the bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognize the implications of this decision and to join with other members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape."
The Anglican Communion is deeply divided on the role of homosexuals in the church. While the Episcopal Church in the United States has gay bishops and many priests willing to marry gay couples, churches in parts of Africa bar gays from the priesthood.
In England, the Manchester diocese included developing closer ties to homosexuals and trans-gendered people in its job description for a new bishop. The Right Rev. David Walker, who was announced as its choice Wednesday, said he would have voted in favor of same-sex marriage even though he described the bill as "flawed."