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Church of England allows same-sex marriage for trans people, no-one else

Nick Duffy July 5, 2019
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty)

The Church of England is to embrace same-sex marriage, but only if they were originally opposite-sex unions.

In a shift in policy announced ahead of the General Synod on Friday (June 6), the Church was pressed to shift its teachings about marriage.

The Church will maintain its teaching that marriage is “a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman,” but will drop opposition to same-sex unions where one partner has transitioned.

Church of England won’t oppose same-sex marriage for trans people

Synod member Prudence Daily had asked bishops: “If one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?”

Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman responded: “If a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?”

She explained: “When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.”

Christine Hardman, the Bishop of Newcastle, attends the General Synod on November 25, 2015 in London
Christine Hardman, the Bishop of Newcastle, attends the General Synod on November 25, 2015 in London (Carl Court/Getty)

The bishop continued: “Never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem.

“We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanly unbearable.”

The move was met with resistance from trans activists, who suggested the Church is only embracing same-sex unions for trans people because it still regards them as their birth gender.

Trans campaigners: Church of England ‘sees trans men as women’

Dr Jane Hamlin of the Beaumont Society told the Daily Telegraph: “It is encouraging that the Church of England seems to recognise that people do transition and remain happily married.

“However, it is clear that because this only applies to couples who married before the transition the Bishops do not really accept the transition at all.

“They still see the trans man or trans woman as he/she was appearing at the time of the wedding. This is disappointing.”

The Church of England continues to reject same-sex unions despite pleas from LGBT+ members, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently attracting anger for barring gay spouses from an upcoming global Anglican conference.

Welby has also previously handed rebukes to the US and Scottish churches for embracing same-sex weddings.

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