Twelve Church of England clergy members will soon reveal that they have secretly married their same-sex partners in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Those out of the dozen clergy not open about their marriages will reveal their identities in an open letter, in which they will also push the Church to reconsider allowing blessings for same-sex couples.
The Times reports that half of those signing the letter have already opened up about their marriages, but that the other six will increase the impact on the Church’s views of same-sex marriage.
One of the first clergy to marry his same-sex partner, Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who married his husband in 2014, warned that gay members of the Church will not back down on the issue.
He told the Times: “We are now going to keep pushing for the next and the next and the next [step] until we get full equality in the church. We are not going away.”
A ruling two years ago from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, banned clergy from entering same-sex marriages.
They said those who do so will be disciplined, and cannot be ordained.
While the Church of England is permanently exempt from same-sex marriage legislation in England and Wales, many have pushed for blessing ceremonies to be allowed to take place in its churches.
Mr Foreshew-Cain hopes that the issue will be discussed at the next General Synod in February.
While he said he hoped many would have their unions blessed in the Church, he warned that many have already turned their backs.
“The church has been so vile to gays and lesbians for so long that most of my gay and lesbian friends want nothing to do with the church. Why go back to an institution which is constantly abusing you?” he added.
Under proposed changes, priests would be able to individually choose whether the perform the blessing ceremonies.
“We acknowledge in our letter that we don’t think the church as a whole is ready for a change in the doctrine of marriage, but that it must be permissible for parishes who wish to celebrate with couples who have got married or have civil partnership to do so,” says Foreshew-Cain.
The number of signatories is also expected to increase, as organisers plan to ask the 70 clergy members and lay people already in civil partnerships whether they have married.
Earlier this year, a gay priest quit the Church of England in order to be able to marry his partner.
Chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, who is known for being anti-gay, said: “They [the signatories] are trying to undermine the authority of the teaching of the church.”