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Two gay priests got married, but now their love is being dragged through the courts

Lily Wakefield September 11, 2019
Gay Anglican priests married blessing

The two priests got married exactly 20 years after they first met. (Father Robert Whalley)

Two gay priests who got married this week were set to become the first same-sex couple to receive a blessing from Australia’s Anglican church, but a legal challenge is now standing in their way.

Father John Davis, from Australia, and Father Rob Whalley, from California, got married on Tuesday, September 10, exactly 20 years after they met and fell in love.

Whalley told ABC Australia about when they first met. He said: “I looked at him and I thought, ‘I could be with this guy for a long time, we actually see the world in much the same way.’

“I said to myself, ‘There’s no future in it at all. This is an absolutely global impossibility. You’re from Australia. I’m from California.’ And he looked at me at that moment and said, ‘I love you.'”

Their church blessing was supposed to be led by bishop John Parkes from Wangaratta, a city in Victoria which approved Anglican blessings of same-sex unions last month. Parkes wanted to bless their marriage before he retired.

Anglican church LGBT+
The Archbishop of Canterbury previously said that the divide on LGBT+ issues in the Anglican church was “irreconcilable.” (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty)

The decision on whether to allow the Anglican blessing will go to a tribunal.

But the matter has now been referred to the church’s highest ecclesiastical court, the Appellate Tribunal, to decide whether the blessing would go against the Anglican church’s constitution.

The head of the Anglican church in Australia, archbishop Philip Freier, has asked that no blessings are performed until the tribunal has made a decision.

Before same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2017, Freier said that the church’s doctrine “remains unchanged, that marriage is between a man and a woman”.

But, the couple told ABC Australia they don’t mind waiting for their blessing, and Davis said he is happy to be a test case for same-sex couples in the church.

He said: “If the tribunal does come together and say there’s nothing to see here, then this will be something of huge significance to every diocese across the country.

“It’s a privilege, it’s an honour. And it’s important.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury previously said that the divide on LGBT+ issues in the Anglican church was “irreconcilable”, and this year Canada’s Anglican church voted against allowing same-sex ceremonies.

More: anglican church, Australia, legal challenge, Same-sex wedding

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