Town divided over gay Dean’s union

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Local residents are split over the recent civil partnership of the Dean of St Albans.

Last week the Church of England’s first openly gay Dean, the Very Rev Jeffrey John had a secret civil partnership ceremony with Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Grant Holmes.

St Alban’s local paper, The Herts Advertiser, ran a poll asking readers if they approved of clergymen entering into that sort of union.

Opinion was split down the middle with 49% stating it was a personal choice and 51% insisting it was inappropriate.

The couple held a low key ceremony wearing their clerical collars, with a small number of witnesses in the audience.

Mr John was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading in 2003 amid mass controversy against his sexual orientation.

Under House of Bishops guidelines, the clerics are allowed to enter into a civil partnership because they claim they are not engaging in sexual relations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, commenting recently on the row over gay clergy, said: “I can envisage, though I don’t in the least want to see, a situation in which there may be more divisions than at present.”