Archbishop of Wales: Equal marriage ban for Church in Wales ‘a total shock’

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The head of the Anglican Church in Wales has said the church will attempt to persuade the UK government to drop plans to make it illegal for same-sex marriages to be performed there, in upcoming equal marriage legislation.

Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said the announcement by Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, on Tuesday, which included a ban on the Church of England and Church in Wales from performing same-sex weddings, came as a “total shock”, reported the Scotsman. 

Mrs Miller told the Commons on Tuesday she was putting in place a “quadruple lock” of measures to guarantee religious organisations would not have to marry gay couples against their wishes.

The move was designed to appease the concerns of senior Anglican opponents such as the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Dr Morgan went on to say that the Church in Wales did not want the ban to be brought in as part of the law, and that he felt it put the church in an “enormously difficult position”.

Earlier in the week, he said that he thought the ban on the Church in Wales performing equal marriages would “curtail” the religious freedoms of the church, and that it was a “step too far”. He went on to say that the church should be allowed to “opt-in” or “opt-out”, as other religious institutions can.

“There are those of us who think it ought to be a free choice and this increases the hurdles for people to pass,” Dr Morgan said.

The Church of England also said it only learnt of the government’s plan to ban it from performing same-sex marriages when Culture Secretary Maria Miller took to the Commons despatch box on Tuesday.

Back in April, Dr Morgan told the Church in Wales’ governing body that it should recognise gay civil partnerships, and said: “All life-long committed relationships deserve the welcome, pastoral care and support of the church.”

Concerns were also raised around the ban by the pro-marriage equality campaign group Out4Marriage, Peter Tatchell and the leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband.

Faith groups such as the Quakers, and Liberal Judaism support marriage rights for gay couples and have stated they would like to provide the ceremonies.