The Rt Revd Christopher Hill spoke following the launch of the Government's proposals for gay marriage legislation. He said:
"The Government statement was not unexpected. The exclusion of the Church of England and the Church of Wales from the legal possibility of marrying same sex persons was more of a surprise.
"Questions remain as to whether the apparent concession was directed towards Parliamentary Backbenchers or the Church of England.
"What can be said at this early stage is that all Churches should deplore homophobia and discrimination. Most Christians, however, define marriage in heterosexual terms as it has historically been received in the biblical Judaea Christian tradition.
"Some nevertheless will regret the Church of England exclusion. Either way, the Church of England is still faced with the crucial question of what attitude it should take to those in either civil partnerships or gay marriage.
"These men and women are real people with needs and emotions, friendships and struggles. This should be recognised on all sides of this debate. While the Governmentâ€™s position for the moment excludes the Church of England offering gay marriage (and many will be thankful for that) it leaves us in the odd position of different laws of marriage for â€˜gayâ€™ and â€˜straightâ€™ people.
"This will be the first time in the history of the country that there has been such a divergent law of marriage. Ultimately, the Church must be concerned not only for the integrity of its own position but also for what is for the common good of society as a whole.
"As the detail of the legislation is progressed, I shall have more to say as the Church considers its position in the coming months."