First church same-sex wedding takes place in England and Wales

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The first same-sex marriage has taken place in a church since the law changed on last month to allow gay couples to marry in England and Wales.

Despite many same-sex couples having married since they have been able to on 29 March, yesterday’s ceremony at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Bournemouth, was the first to be conducted in a religious building.

Jan Tipper and Barb Burden, both long-time members of the church, married on Saturday.

The MCC has long conducted opposite-sex weddings, but registered to conduct same-sex weddings once the law changed last month.

Reverend Dwayne Morgan officiated at the ceremony.

“We have been offering wedding services for same-sex couples for many years in our church because we believe that God blesses the love of two people no matter what their gender,” said Reverend Morgan.

“But to finally have the government fully recognise their love by giving them complete legal status as a married couple is a blessing for everyone. We are extremely pleased that the government didn’t just listen to those churches that wanted to completely block same-sex couples from the right to have their marriage consecrated in their place of worship, but heard the voices of the minority of people of faith who believe that God doesn’t discriminate. We are grateful to all those who have struggled for the rights of gay people for so many years that has led us to this historic day.”

“We were surprised when Rev Morgan told us we’d be the first in a church. As it’s been approved since 29 March, we assumed there had already been others who had taken advantage,” said Ms Burden.

“Unfortunately it shows the lack of effective ministry by most churches to gay people in so many ways.”

MCC was established in Bournemouth in 1979 and is associated with the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches which has churches in over 40 countries. The first MCC in the United Kingdom was founded in London in 1973 and there are now 11 MCCs in the UK.

The church has blessed gay couples since the 1970s and Reverend Morgan said he was “glad the government has finally caught up with us.”

PinkNews publisher Benjamin Cohen, who led the Out4Marriage campaign told the Daily Telegraph: “I am delighted that the first same-sex weddings have now been solemnised in a church.

“This is exactly what we fought for equal marriage for.

“I am especially pleased that we succeeded in persuading David Cameron and Nick Clegg to alter the original plans of simply introducing equal civil marriage, to the current system that allows churches, synagogues and meeting houses to opt-in to conduct same-sex marriages.

“No religious institution should ever be forced to marry a same-sex couple, but those who wish to, now have the freedom to do so.”