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Anglican vicars say they will defy equal marriage ban on Church of England

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  1. The CofE and CofW must be the most confusing organisations in the world. Up to now they have been complaining about absolute protection from marrying gay couples, now they have been given that re-assurance they are complaining. There’s no way the synod will give permission for them (as seen in their failure over women bishops) so even if the 4th lock wasn’t there they wouldn’t get permission.

    Quakers only marry quakers but I suppose they’d allow a CofE vicar to hire out a meeting house but would the CofE vicar be sacked by the CofE for this?. Surely this is an internal issue in the church rather than the govt’s problem.

    1. GulliverUK 16 Dec 2012, 8:27am

      I think he was saying they should ask the Quakers or Unitarians to marry them, but do the Quakers really only marry Quakers? Not heard that. I think we need to check that out and be sure of the answer.

      The CofE was ok with the OPT-IN system for Civil Partnerships – so what legal advice must have said that because it uses the term “Marriage” then their Canon law (which gets turned in to state law) must apply, so that must be where the exact crux of the problem lies. They did ask for “extra” protections because of their legal link to the state.

      1. Queer Quaker 16 Dec 2012, 5:36pm

        You can only have a Quaker wedding if the couple are both Quakers. If one of the couple isn’t a Quaker then there’s a process to ensure that a Quaker wedding is appropriate. It’s unlikely that a non-Quaker couple could have a Quaker wedding. The Quaker and Anglican theology of marriage (and other things) differ in several respects. I’m not sure how keen Anglicans would be to have a Quaker wedding anyway!

        1. Maurice Nagington 25 Dec 2012, 11:18am

          Quakers only marry people who are Quakers because we are NOT like the Church of England that is obliged (as the established church) to marry anyone.

          The (theological) reason why Quakers only marry Quakers (and by that I mean members and attenders) is that we believe “we marry none, we are but witnesses”. I.e. We don’t have priests who have the authority to marry, we believe ‘god’ marrys people, and we witness it as a worshiping community. If people are NOT part of that worshiping community, it makes it implausible for Quakers to witness a marriage.

    2. Jock S. Trap 16 Dec 2012, 9:16am

      I would expect that any religion willing to perform such ceremonies will see the benefits of allowing LGBT christians etc marry with them. Quakers Unitarians…. can.

      Thing is won’t a marriage under a Christian vicar still be invalid becuse of how the law will be.

      The supportive christians I applaud but they really should have made this kind of noise back when it was needed!

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Dec 2012, 1:06pm

        So, where were all these Anglican clergy before, during and after the consultation. All of a sudden, the government grants the CoE full protection and exclusion and now they’re whining? I’m delighted there are ‘many’ clergy wanting to participate, but I’m sorry, they should have been proactive and extremelly vocal throughout the process.

        The Rev. Coward should also acknowledge the fact that gay Anglican worshippers marrying outside their church may NEVER return, that’s the larger picture. How on earth can it expect to have dialogue with us while remaining in bold opposition to our equality? There would be no point. Too little, too late I’m afraid.

    3. Bottom line on this one is that the anglican church is changing tor equality. Its mentality is probably based now on increasing the distance between it and its past torturer Rome.

      Good for them BTW they also know that people are deserting xtianity in general because of Bigotry against gays and others.

      church attendance is way down, they know they need the members from the gay community and the majority of english who support equal marriage rights.

  2. Plainly there is a sedate battle going on for the heart and soul of the Church. The nastier lot use voting rules that are designed to prevent progress and their influence within government to enforce uniformity and conformity to the status quo.

    Perhaps if the CofE had ever been welcoming of gay pepople, CP’s etc, they there would be enough of us inside the Chruch to pass the vote for change.

    I can quite understand why the Government wants to wash its hands of them

  3. Where were these campaigners when the church was mlitantly homophobic, using all sort of exceedingly offensive slurs against our community? These people have no right to claim that their freedom is being impeded: they’ve made their own bed and now they must lay in it.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s too late for guilt or “you’ve gone too far.” Don’t try to apologize to the gay community like this, don’t try to make it up to us. Unfortunately for these “campaigners”, we’re not that easily manipulated.

    The CofE can’t complain they have had this forced onto them: they were given a choice and they chose.

    1. Amen.

      Too little, too late. These people have found their outrage awfully late

      1. billywingargtenson 17 Dec 2012, 3:43am

        they realize that as more gays marry and the acceptance of it becomes overwhelming their future will be like that of a rat trapped in a rat trap by one foot
        Their only choice is to come out with eg 80% or more of the religious leadership supporting marriage equality. Churches are great organizers and have weekly pulpiting.

        The time is now now now. or they will end up being a foot note in history and part of the new times garbage dump

  4. Staircase2 16 Dec 2012, 3:06am

    Full marks for those Anglicans willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right.

    In answer to the above people questioning ‘the Anglican Church’s confusion’ and e ‘lack of opposing voices’ during their homophobic rants about Marriage Equality up to this point, I can only say: the Press…

    If those opposing voices have not been heard, don’t blame the opposing voices, instead ask the papers, radio & TV why THEY haven’t broadcast this groups opposition up til now…

    1. Pavlos Prince of Greece 16 Dec 2012, 3:43am

      Opposition to same-sex marriage is small, but very local (in UK, France, Germany, Australia), because have support of the most organised and perfect web of ‘close relationships’ in the world history, 2000 years old.

    2. Jock S. Trap 16 Dec 2012, 12:19pm

      You make a good point… to a point but remember that papers like The Times, the Evening Standard etc are for marriage Equality. Though I do agree that the media were Partly to blame I do think had these positive voices been louder like the opposed voices they would have been reported.

      I do think many of those within the CofE who now say positive things were maybe a little complacent thinking others would start. This is the result.

      To date the only religions to make such a noise were those that will be granted access to this brilliant piece of legislation.

  5. It seems unwise for Lord Harries and the vicars to show their hand now, when there is still time for another amendment to be made to foreclose those plans.

    It seems to me that it would be wiser to wait until after the law is passed.

    In any case, there is still a possibility that the CoE will ask that the quadruple lock be partially removed, from embarassment at having singled itself out as bigoted.

    1. The government won’t do it, they didn’t do it for embarrassment they did it because the church hierarchy need to agree to amend their canon-law first or agree to have it invalidated and replaced by the state law BUT i don’t see that passing in the CoE anytime soon especially as they have rejected female bishops.

  6. Aussie Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 16 Dec 2012, 5:54am

    I think people are jumping the gun way too often – especially the media!

    First of all I welcome both Emgland and Wales to allow same-sex marriage (as have Scotland just only introduced the Civil Marriage Equality Bill 2012). People need to calm down and take a chill pill!

    Second of all, details are a little sketchy at best – because the England and Wales the proposed version of the bill has yet been introduced. I would gladly like to see the bill too when it gets introduced as it has been in Scotland! Until the bill gets introduced, we are yet to see the details on the proposed law on same sex marriages in E and W.

    We are talking about civil marriage equality here – nothing to do with religious marriages!

    However if any church or priest or even sometimes a rabbi supports conducting a seame sex marriage ceremony, they should still be allowed to conduct one if they wish and have a “conscientious option clause” if a certain church, priest or rabbi does not want to perform one!

    1. Actually you can read the governments proposals on its website if you search for Marriage Equality.

      It shows that:

      *The government backtracked on civil marriage only and said religious marriages will be allowed where the religion wants to
      *the religious organisations that want to must apply to the government for permission
      * if they have applied for a license then there will be at least one person with authority who wants to do it at each specific church
      * The CoE and CoW whose canon-law currently prevents it cannot apply for said license.

      I think it was an ingenious way of increasing civil liberties for LGBT people and making sure that there was still religious freedom to either do so or not do so on the matter without said religious freedom interfering in other people’s religious freedoms (which some religions wanted to do)

      Now if only whilst the government was at it they would change the definition of marriage so pagan weddings would be possible as part of this legislation

  7. Aussie Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 16 Dec 2012, 5:57am

    It is a great shame that both Ireland and Northern Ireland still does not allow adoption for same sex couples and has NO PLANS on same-sex marriage as well!

  8. Aussie Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 16 Dec 2012, 6:07am

    As the same in my country Australia. Here in New South Wales (NSW for short) we allow same-sex couples the right to adopt children since 2010 as in Western Australia (WA) since 2002, Tasmania (TAS) since 2003 and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) since 2004!

    The Government of Australia is so behind the times on not supporting same sex marriages!

    When even 10 US States, Columbia, Taiwan, Uruguay, New Zealand, United Kingdom (of Scotland, England and Wales only) are ahead at pushing through SSM in their parliaments, legislatures or Congress!

    I am embarrassed to be Australian!

    If I was the Prime Minister of Australia, my first act is to allow same sex marriages here in Australia!

    1. Aussie Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 16 Dec 2012, 6:33am

      France as well!

      That means 7 countries in 2013 should pass same sex marriage!

    2. PeterinSydney 16 Dec 2012, 8:51am

      We are all utterly embarrassed by our Australian Government. Gillard is a total waste of breath and Abbott is as bigoted as Benedict 16. We will need a revolution in our Parliaments before we catch up with the rest of the world. How sad.

      1. Shame that she wouldn’t even consider domestic partnerships as a middle ground until attitudes change – I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t be where we are now if the CPA wasn’t passed in 2004.

  9. GulliverUK 16 Dec 2012, 8:20am

    The Church of England asked for extra protections, they acknowledge this on their web site, they kept saying that OPT-IN protection wasn’t enough, yet it was enough in December for Civil Partnerships.

    CPs already take place in churches that want to – those which have opted-in. It is up to the CofE to say they don’t need the 4th lock and that they accept the OPT-IN system will work.

    The ECHR have already said that equal marriage is a matter for national governments.

    Many CofE clergy want the right to decide for themselves if they offer same-sex marriage the leadership probably won’t allow them for another 20-30 years – but that doesn’t allow individual clergy freedom of conscience. In the meantime, we have many friends in the Anglican church.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Dec 2012, 1:19pm

      Quite right. Not only did they make a conscious decision and choice, the demanded guarantees and protections never to be forced to marry a gay couple. They got exactly what they wanted so I don’t know why they’re whining and complaining. I blame those Anglican clergy in support for failing to make their voices heard, loud and clear. It’s their own fault for remaining silent and doing nothing about it.

      One thing Rev. Coward is right about, gay Anglicans marrying in other churches are going to force the hierarchy to engage in the debate over sexuality and equal marriage. If the law is retained once equal marriage is introduced, I wonder how this will affect gay married clergy? Would the hierarchy ask them to resign or would their marriage have to be downgraded to a CP to remain part of the clergy? I think the CoE has bitten off more than it can chew, made a deep hole for itself from which the only way out is to support equal marriage whether it likes it or not.

      1. a bit hypocritical to prevent a clergyman from marrying in front of his own God though and force them to have a CP or to not recognise his marriage in front of god as a marriage.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Dec 2012, 1:25pm

      If they demand a release from the 4th lock, can you imagine the embarrassment of not only the hierarchy but their shills, those Tory backbenchers and supporters of C4M. They’ve been totally silent since Maria Miller’s announcement. She gobsmacked them, shut them up. It’s put an end to their nonsense and spurious claims. They’ll try to save face or come up with some other ridiculous excuse, but it will be to no avail. They’ve helped push equal marriage through. It has removed doubts from some of them on the fence and hopefully they will join with the majority by voting ‘yes’.

      1. I was thinking more about this. We know it would be wrong to force them, the government won’t support anybody who did try, nor would any groups like Stonewall or simiar groups support such a case. We know there isn’t going to be a case.

        What they need to do is ask the government to abandon the 4th lock, accept that the opt-in is sufficirnt, and for goodness sake have some faith in us, their own ckergy and life in general. It is their own paranoia that has led us here, and only by trusting us, showing trust in us and having faith in their God, that we can turn this back into a win-win for us all

  10. These priests are like farts in a colander trying to find a way out – dithering this way and that, and like spoiled children, always trying to get their own way.

    1. i think you mean “fly in a colander” … lol

  11. PeterinSydney 16 Dec 2012, 8:48am

    Looks like the C of E clergy will vote with their feet and have marriage for same sex people despite what the Government and their elder Bishops want. Long live C of E freedom.

  12. THis confusion within the church is reason enough to just ditch them altogether. It is proof that the CofE is a political organisation rather than a religious one.

    If they ditch gay marriage they lose members if they accept gay marriage they lose members. They just cannot win. In other words they are losers.

    1. Jock S. Trap 16 Dec 2012, 9:24am

      The confusion within the church was also caused because those like this vicar were being complacent thinking the voices of the louder bigots wouldn’t be heard.

      Now they complain.

  13. Jock S. Trap 16 Dec 2012, 9:13am

    Maybe if these people had shouted equally as loud as the bigots things may have been different.

    Fact is this is the only way to get the legislation through, or would have been but the bigots aren’t happy… still.

    It’s good to finally see such Anglican vicars speaking out but it’s not the government at fault here it’s the Church of England and they Should have protested to them.

    1. Agreed – this is so too little, too late. Where were they a month ago?

      1. Jock S. Trap 16 Dec 2012, 12:24pm

        Indeed, and they have little excuse because in the same time it would have taken them to get agreement religions like the Quakers, Unitarians etc did voice their opinions loudly. Loudly enough to be able to accept marriage equally within their religious buildings!

        The best those favourable people with the CofE can do now is target their Church to modernise but seeing the way it went on female bishops, I don’t hold out much hope.

  14. If the proposal had been that it would be illegal to marry same sex couples in any religion, the Church of England wouldn’t be whining now. The fact is they’ve been made a special case, and that is what is hurting them; they stick out like a sore thumb. And they hate it. Too bad. They asked for it. They got it. Goodbye C of E.

  15. Where the hell were these defiant vicars when their voices would have mattered? When Sentamu and Clary and Williams were spewing homophobic bile in the papers, where were they? They’re willing to go to prison for equality now? They weren’t willing to crack their teeth 3 weeks ago!

    This is a pathetic attempt to either claw back some PR or stamp their feet because the government is telling them what to do – when they actually wanted them to tell the quakers et al what to do

    1. de Villiers 16 Dec 2012, 12:02pm

      They were – but you don’t read the publications that carried their statements.

    2. noblescholar 22 Dec 2012, 6:35pm

      Sparky’s comments, and others to the effect that Colin Coward and others of us who signed the letter to the Telegraph, have not been vocal in the past, is nonsense. Changing Attitude, which Colin leads, has more than 1000 registered Anglican members, many of whom have worked tirelessly, and effectively, in innumerable acts of pastoral care for LGBT people, and in advocating against homophobic stances in the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion. I entirely agree that Sentamu and Williams should be openly condemned for their cozying up to bigots advocating imprisonment and death for gay people and their supporters, and have said this myself, within the C of E, and in public, as Colin Coward and many others have. We’re getting media coverage now in part because of how vile and stupid the C of E’s reactions have been in the press regarding initiatives for same-sex marriage in Britain.

  16. Yet another reason to question why the Church of England has a privileged position in our government. Not only do they NOT represent most of the people living in this country, they don’t even represent their own members.

  17. Hysterical Screamer No. 243 16 Dec 2012, 4:01pm

    Comforting news from sympathetic vicars for those lesbians and gays who believe in Christianity.

    But if the overwhelming majority of comments from liberal left-wing straights at the following Guardian thread is anything to go by, I think it’s touch-and-go as to whether we will win Marriage Equality this time round.

    There’s a horrifyingly large number of people who are bitterly against it.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Dec 2012, 8:08pm

      It’s hard to say if those who write to the Guardian in opposition are representative of a large number who agree with them. If we lose, then we try again, but I don’t think we will. It will probably just scrape by just as CPs did and who knows, maybe it will get through with an even larger number.

      Given the recent adultery scandal by Tory MP Bob Blackman, it may not bode well for those expecting it to fail. If anything, it might make some moderates and those on the fence to reconsider and vote yes. Vile people like him in opposition are the very people who are a threat to marriage, not equal marriage.

      1. Hysterical Screamer No. 243 16 Dec 2012, 8:29pm

        It is hard to say, I agree, but I follow the threads on the Guardian closely and you normally get a good spread of readers’ opinions. That’s why the straight liberal left’s responses to the suggestion that Marriage Equality will be good for all society rather worry me. If you haven’t already, do read right through the entire thread. I think you’ll be surprised at how many Guardian readers basically say “I’ve got nothing against queers but this is a step too far!”

        1. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Dec 2012, 1:51pm

          I did manage to read it. However, I wouldn’t be too convinced that they rally are liberal lefties just by what they’ve said on other issues. Whose to say they’re not UKIP or Tories pretending to be something that they’re not? Just bear in mind the composition of those who signed the C4M petition, claiming that many gay people signed it. How do we know they’re not straight people pretending to be gay, so the result would be skewed in their favour? I believe in the old addage, don’t believe everything you read in the papers just because things appear to be so. That they use the term “queers” is suspect in this day and age. A common derogatory term used before being gay was legal in the UK I might add.

  18. That There Other David 16 Dec 2012, 4:54pm

    They aren’t defying the ban, they are instead directing gay Anglicans to other churches. You have to wonder why they don’t continue with that and ask their entire congregations whether they’d rather be out of the CoE.

    What would happen if an entire congregation and its clergyman or woman decided to leave? Would they be permitted to take the buildings with them, or would the CoE have another empty church on their hands to turn into apartments?

  19. Did I awaken in a parallel universe today?

    If I did it seems to be going in a bizarrely different direction from the one I awakened in prior to last Tuesday! Ms Miller delivered the best blind side ever!

  20. Just found this. Non-members can get a Quaker wedding too. :)


    When the Quaker movement began the only religious marriage ceremony available was a service in an Anglican church, and Quakers did not feel able to make use of this, so they set up their own marriage procedure. Eventually this was legally recognised, but only for couples who were both Quakers. This caused a great deal of unhappiness until the law was changed to permit marriages in which or both of the couple were not in membership.

    1. Maurice Nagington 25 Dec 2012, 11:17am

      You can not be in membership, but (see comment below) you must be an attender.

  21. The point that seems to have been missed is that The C of E and the C of W are forced by law to marry any parishioners. They either had to be forbidden by law OR had to give up the duty to marry everyone. Giving up that duty would have been more of a step on the way to disestablishment than not marrying us.

    The Churches seem not to understand their own positions.

  22. Bottom line on this one is that the anglican church is changing tor equality. Its mentality is probably based now on increasing the distance between it and its past torturer Rome.

    Good for them BTW they also know that people are deserting xtianity in general because of Bigotry against gays and others.

    With church attendance way down, they know they need the members from the gay community and the majority of english who support equal marriage rights.

  23. Maurice Nagington 25 Dec 2012, 11:16am

    Quakers (currently) only marry people who are Quakers. We are NOT like the Church of England that is obliged (as the established church) to marry anyone.

    The (theological) reason why Quakers only marry Quakers (and by that I mean members and attenders) is that we believe “we marry none, we are but witnesses”. I.e. We don’t have priests who have the authority to marry, we believe ‘god’ marrys people, and we witness it as a worshiping community. If people are NOT part of that worshiping community, it makes it implausible for Quakers to witness a marriage.

  24. The CoE are lying that they were unaware of it – Maria Miller quotes their response to the consultation explaining that the ban comes about because the CoE were threatening the government that making it law would invalidate their canon-law and thus be invading on religious freedom.

    The CoE threatened the government and the government cut them to size by saying well we will write the law so that it wouldn’t be legal for a CoE church to perform them. Thus it does not interfere with religious freedom and the CoE does not interfere with other people’s religious freedom.

    It was all very cleverly crafted and I wouldn’t have thought of her solution. I take my hat off to her!

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