Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

A Letter To The Times Regarding Inaccuracy Concerning Gay Marriage Comments

The Reverend Malcolm MacNaughton, the Archbishop of York's Chief of Staff.

Saturday 10th March 2012

The Reverend Malcolm MacNaughton, the Archbishop of York's Chief of Staff, has written to The Times newspaper to correct an inaccuracy regarding their coverage of the Archbishop's views on gay marriage. Reverend MacNaughton's letter follows...

Sir, It is incorrect to claim that the Archbishop of York accused the Prime Minister of acting like a dictator (leading article, Mar 5, and Interview, Mar 8). The actual transcript of the relevant interview can be seen on the Archbishop’s website here.

Dictators do not habitually commission consultation exercises. In a democracy all voices may be heard. Indeed some ideologically driven authoritarian regimes have attempted to redefine marriage — Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, and some of the Southern states of the US. Few would deny this was an abuse of the powers of the state. The Archbishop’s point is arguable, but not intemperate as alleged in your editorial.

The Archbishop has spoken out repeatedly for equal treatment of gay and lesbian people. Indeed, unlike more strident campaigners he supports civil partnerships in order that those in same-sex relationships have the same rights under the law — however the Archbishop would not accept that this is the same as “marriage”. To say it is discriminatory to say that gay and lesbian people cannot marry each other is to settle for a minimalist view of marriage.

It boils down to this: is gender difference a gift to be cherished or an inequity to be ironed out? Humanity does not lend itself to homogenisation, for we are all wonderfully different. Vive la différence!

The Rev Malcolm Macnaughton
Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of York

Back · Back to top