PinkNews.co.uk Exclusive

The Church of England has inadvertently proposed handing civil partners greater rights, legal experts claim.

In a motion agreed at the denomination’s national assembly, the General Synod, members reaffirmed, “the importance of marriage as central to the stability and health of society and the best context in which to bring up children.”

The proposal calls for the government to encourage married life by “removing the considerable financial penalties placed on marriage by the tax and benefit system.”

However, as PinkLegal.co.uk solicitor Alistair Kelman points out, the change would also give civil partners greater rights, he told The PinkNews: “The Synod’s motion indirectly but significantly is additional support for the fairer treatment of civil partners who also suffer the same considerable financial penalties placed on married couples by the tax and benefit system.”

Joanna Monckton, a member of the Synod, proposed the motion, she insisted it is separate to civil partnerships, she told The Pink News: “It has nothing to do with civil partnerships, it is sorting out the anomalies of marriage, they are totally and utterly different.”

Mr Kelman said: “A modern restoration of the married person’s tax allowance would automatically have to be for the benefit of people in civil partnerships as well as married couples. The same moral and social arguments used by the Synod in promoting this motion apply equally to civil partners who must be able to take their proper place at the heart of society, free of unfair financial discrimination.”

A Church of England spokesman told The Pink News, “It’s important to stress that civil partnerships are not marriage, the government made sure it wasn’t, they are different, distinct things.

“The Synod is keen to reflect that marriage is losing its place in society, and to reaffirm its support for the family structure.”

This comes after the Anglican Communion’s gay bishop row reached new levels this month when liberal UK clergy suggested teaming up with ideologically similar US churches, while the denomination’s most traditional church called for pro-gay congregations to be ‘excised.’

The proposals came in reaction to reports that the head of the Anglican Church, Dr Rowan Williams, planned to split churches between “associated” and “covenant” provinces.

But the Church of Nigeria said it is unfair to have to accommodate gay affirming churches, calling them “a cancerous lump in the body (which) should be excised if it has defied every known cure. To attempt to condition the whole body to accommodate it will lead to the avoidable death of the patient.”

Dr Rowan Williams said: “I can envisage, though I don’t in the least want to see, a situation in which there may be more divisions than at present.”

This article first appeared in the August issue of The Pink News which is out now