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Gay church wedding ban for Wales a “step too far”: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 6. December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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The Archbishop of Wales has denounced the government’s plans to impose a “quadruple legal lock” that would exempt the Church in Wales from performing gay marriages, saying Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s promise was a “step too far.”

However, Dr. Barry Morgan’s protestations the Church in Wales was being treated in the same way as the Church of England over same-sex marriage appears to place him at odds with the formal position of his church.

On 12 Dec, the government announced its gay marriage legislation would explicitly state that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples and that canon law, which bans same-sex weddings, will continue to apply. Like the Church of England, the Church in Wales has a legal obligation to marry couples where there is a link to the parish.

Dr Morgan responded that “excluding the Church in Wales and the Church of England from the legislation so that it will be illegal for them to have gay marriage. I think that is a step too far.”

“It does not leave it to the governing bodies of the two churches to decide whether they want to opt in or out as other churches are allowed to do. It curtails our freedom of choice and seems to close the door on even the possibility of doing so in the future without a change in law.

“It makes these churches seem exclusive and I think that is unfortunate,” Dr. Morgan said.

However, in its March 2012 response to the government’s consultation on marriage, the Welsh bishops said: “The Church in Wales is in an almost identical position to the Church of England with regard to the solemnisation of marriages.   The Church in Wales’ concerns about the legal implications are therefore the same as those of the Church of England.  We have taken note of these, and would seek assurances that the Government would specifically include the Church in Wales in any provisions for the Church of England under the proposed legislation.”

The bishops stated they did not see the need for the legislation. “It is not at all clear in what ways same-sex marriage will be different in substance from existing arrangements for civil partnerships.  They already appear to be in all respects the same, in the rights and responsibilities conferred on the parties; and with only very minor distinctions in the methods of registration, or the reasons for dissolving the relationship.  Nor is it clear what will be the purpose of retaining the category of civil partnership alongside same-sex marriage, especially since it is not proposed that heterosexual couples be allowed to enter into a civil partnership.  In the context of equality of access to registered relationships, this appears to create a new inequality.”

“Recognising and supporting” same-sex civil unions “are to be welcomed” the bishops said, but as “such provision already exists” they saw no need for gay marriage. “Beyond raising the dangers of significant confusion and debate, the current proposals do not add to these provisions,” the March statement said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

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