Pity the prime minister. With most news bleakly austere these days, changing the law to let gay couples marry must have seemed a sure way to spread crowd-pleasing sweetness and light. Countries around the world are giving homosexuals full marriage rights. More than half of British respondents usually tell pollsters they favour gay marriage. Besides, David Cameron truly believes in it, as he told the Conservative Party conference in October 2011.
But government plans to let same-sex couples not only marry but marry in church, detailed on December 11th, have startled the ecclesiastical horses and divided the already fissiparous Conservatives. The Anglican and Catholic churches, along with the Muslim Council of Britain and Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, oppose the move, which contravenes their belief that marriage is between a woman and a man. High-profile Tories including Michael Gove, the education secretary, and Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, are for the change, but over 100 Conservative MPs are believed to oppose it. That will not put the outcome in doubt, as Labour and the Liberal Democrats support the shift, but it guarantees a continuing row.
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