Sir: Martin Luther King looked forward to the day when his children would be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I look forward to the day when gay and lesbian youngsters are judged not by their sexual orientation but by their character and the quality of their relationships.
The bishops in the House of Lords who will oppose the equal age of consent at 16 argue that it would give "the wrong message" to society ("Peers rally to stop gay sex Bill", 22 June). What message are they sending: that prejudice and discrimination is right; that to be gay is to be less than other people? All of us, men and women, black and white, gay and heterosexual are all children of God and of infinite value to him. Notions of heterosexual supremacy are no more Christian than notions of white supremacy.
The bishops must accept responsibility for the consequences of their action. What impact will their statement have on those thousands of adolescents faced with growing awareness that their deepest feeling are towards their own sex? Recognition of beauty in others and the desire to love is the greatest gift of God. Yet the bishops are sending the "message" to our gay and lesbian children that these feelings are sinful and wicked.
Their statement will reinforce the guilt and self-hatred felt by many gay and lesbian adolescents and give them the message that the church, and therefore God, rejects them. Children who are identified or labelled as lesbian or gay in schools often face appalling bullying. The "message" sent by the bishops is support for the attitudes that inform this persecution.