Meanwhile, here in Britain...

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The Independent Online
The subject of gay marriage entered the mainstream of debate towards the end of last year with the publication of Virtually Normal, an examination of society's attitudes towards homosexuality by Andrew Sullivan, British former editor of American journal The New Republic. As the controversy intensifies in the US, how near is Britain, church and state, to recognising gay relationships?

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, which is at the forefront of gay campaigning in the Anglican Church, launched a document last November demanding recognition from bishops that a "permanent, faithful, stable relationship" of a homosexual couple is as valid as a heterosexual marriage. The document outlined the LGCM's principal aim, namely a full-scale public debate in the synod.

The LGCM has been involved in arranging services of blessing - it refrains from using the word "marriage" - for same-sex relationships for 20 years. It now handles around 500 requests a year for such blessings, and has the support of a group of clergymen who are prepared to officiate at these services. "The church should be endorsing that kind of commitment, or else it is actually undermining the long-term relationships that it claims it finds more acceptable among same-sex couples," says the Rev Richard Kirker, the LGCM's general secretary,

Last month the Inland Revenue helped to clear the way for unmarried people, whether straight or gay, to receive survivors' benefits, the reduced pension that almost all company schemes pay to widows and widowers after a spouse dies. The Revenue expanded its definition of "dependant" to include "an unmarried partner, of the same or opposite sex" who is "financially interdependent on the employee", though the decision to take this extension on board still lies with the trustees of individual schemes.