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UK: Archbishop unhappy with ban on gay weddings in church

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UK: Archbishop unhappy with ban on gay weddings in church

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — The archbishop of Wales, who says the UK government's decision to make it illegal for the church to perform same-sex marriages, was reportedly going to discuss dropping the ban with the government.

"I am not sure we want that kind of protection which makes us out to be very unwelcoming and homophobic," Gay Star News (GSN) reports Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan as saying. "It is not that I am advocating that the Church in Wales is right to perform gay marriages, but that decision needs to be made by the Church in Wales. It is not for the state to decide for us."

The British government announced Dec 11 that it will introduce a bill next year to legalize gay marriage but would make it unlawful for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Immediately following the government's announcement, Morgan said the church had not asked for the so-called quadruple lock of measures to be put in place, calling it "a step too far."

On the BBC's The World at One program Dec 14, the archbishop adds that it's not a position he and fellow bishops are "terribly happy with."  

"The government probably thought if we didn't have a law making it illegal for the Church in Wales to conduct gay marriage, then there could be an appeal to the court of human rights," he says. "But all that was done without any consultation at all. It came as a total shock to us, and I think some of us would want to argue that there's got to be a way around this legally without making it a criminal act to hold such marriages in church, if we so wish."

According to a Dec 14 BBC report, a Church of England spokesperson indicated that the church wasn't properly consulted. "What is clear is that the amount of detail given by officials from the [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] certainly wasn't the level of detail revealed on the floor of the House. I think that's surprising, at the very least.

"There is this sense of the government slightly making it up on the hoof. This is an important and serious issue and a complex area of law. Doing all this on the hoof is absurd," the spokesperson adds.

Gay Star News says a government spokesperson denies there wasn't consultation with the church, noting that government officials met with the Church of England "at a very senior level."  

"The church made clear to us its wish to see legal provisions which would ensure that their position on not conducting same-sex marriages could continue," the spokesperson told Gay Star News, adding that "discussions with the church were quite specific about the quad lock."

The bill is likely to have enough support in parliament to become law, including from members of Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet and most lawmakers, in both the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties. 

 

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