A Derbyshire vicar has launched a petition to the Church of England saying it does not speak for the signatories when it opposes marriage equality for gay couples.

More than two thousand people have signed the petition written by Father Ian Stubbs, the vicar of Glossop Parish Church.

Fr Stubbs, whose wife is a Methodist minister, wrote in the petition that the Church of England was “undermining” its own “credibility and relevance” through its formal opposition to marriage rights for gay couples.

The Church submitted a response to the government’s public consultation on marriage equality last week saying allowing gay couples access would “dilute” the institution.

Fr Stubbs told the Glossop Advertiser: “When the government recently announced its proposals about gay marriage I wrote to them in favour. I was dismayed when the news broke that the Church of England was against this on what I thought were quite spurious grounds.

“I feel embarrassed, awkward and disgusted that I am associated with a church that takes that view. I just wanted to show my own distaste for the report and also the fact that a lot of people do not take that view and are generally disgusted by it.”

Fr Stubbs petition alerts the Church that the Church of England’s submission to the public consultation “is not in our name”, saying “all forms of committed relationship enhance and strengthen society”.

    The petition alleges that the Church’s formal rejection of gay marriage rights:

  • “lacks the compassion of Jesus for all made in the image of God”
  • “fosters an unjust and continuing discrimination (and in some cases abuse) of lgbt people in the name of Christ”
  • “is in thrall to literal-minded understandings of scripture and tradition and lacks the energy and moral courage of Jesus who challenged unjust social structures and traditions”
  • “further undermines the national credibility and relevance of the Church of England”

The full petition can be found at Change.org.

Fr Stubbs added: “I think it’s a disaster for the Church of England, it makes it look totally out of step. There are also a number of things that are just not true. It’s just a lie to say gay people are treated as equals. They are not allowed to have any kind of official religious service, openly gay people are not allowed to be priests.

“Treating gay people as secondary provides the breeding ground for homophobia.”