Archbishop of Wales to meet Government to tell them not to ban his church from performing same-sex marriages

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The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, will today tell the British Government not to go ahead with a proposed legislative ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, the British Minister for Equalities, Maria 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 Church of England and the Church in Wales are specifically banned from performing same-sex marriages while other churches, synagogues and mosques can decide for themselves whether to opt-in.

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

Immediately after the announcement, Dr Morgan said that banning the church from marrying gay couples was a “step too far”.

The Archbishop said although the Church in Wales was not currently contemplating offering same-sex marriages, he said the church believed in “nurturing family life”.

He said the new law had “curtailed” the church’s freedom.

“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.

Ahead of a meeting today with officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, home of the Equalities Office, the Archbishop said: “I am not sure we want that kind of protection which makes us out to be very unwelcoming and homophobic.

“It is not that I am advocating that the Church in Wales is right to perform gay marriages but that decision needs to be made by the Church in Wales, it’s not for the State to decide for us.”

He added: “They have a tight legislative programme but on the other hand it would have been helpful to have consulted us before hand.

“I can understand their motives which were in order to try to help us. But as far as marriage is concerned we are still part of the establishment. All clergy are registrars and are required by law to marry anyone within our parishes who can ask for a wedding.”

He warned that if the Church in Wales wanted to perform same-sex marriages, such a move would require the consent of Parliament in Westminster. “We might never reach that point,” he said. “But we certainly don’t want to be in a position where we are barred by an Act of parliament from doing it.”

The Church of England 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.

A spokesperson for Mrs Miller said it would have been “inappropriate” to discuss the fine print of its plans before telling parliament.

“As part of our consultation process, and as we finalised our proposals, government officials met with a number of stakeholders, including the Church of England.”