CHURCH bosses in Gloucestershire say MPs should not be voting today on whether to allow gay marriage.
The House of Commons' vote on the Government's controversial bill has arrived far too quickly for the Diocese of Gloucester's liking.
Yesterday, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated his opposition to gay marriage, there were calls to delay the vote.
Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham said he believed the vote was being rushed, adding: "The Church of England embraces people with a wide variety of views on gay marriage. It would be foolish to suggest that there is only one opinion.
"Nevertheless, the Church of England does, in its official teaching and in its law, understand marriage to be a committed life long partnership between a man and a woman.
"It is, therefore, alarming the Government has rushed to change, in such a hurried way, an understanding of marriage that has been held and honoured throughout history, introducing legislation that was not in the manifestos of the parties at the last election, for which there is therefore no mandate.
"The Government would do better to slow down this process and give time for much more reflective consideration of such a change."
Today's vote has created a divide within the Conservative party.
As many as 180 Tory MPs are said to be considering voting against the bill, but it is still expected to pass with support from Labour and Liberal Democrats MPs.
Bishop Michael added: "The Church is not simply sitting on the sidelines resistant to change, but wants to be part of a thoughtful and wise consideration of these things – but it is difficult to do that against a very hurried Government timetable."
Four of Gloucestershire's six MPs said they would back the bill, but Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) and Geoffrey Clifton- Brown (Cotswolds) said they were likely to vote against.