The Marriage Business

The time has come for Church of England clergy to show us what they are made of.

The government has decided that the Church of England (and, bizarrely the Church in Wales) is to be banned from opting into the legislation permitting same-sex couples to get married.

Those who are clergy who are supportive of the right of gay couples to marry really have only one option open to them. They should refuse to do any further legal marriages. No-one can force anyone to solemnise any marriage – a fact which has been much glossed over by the media. Some couples in some circumstances have the right to marry in particular places but not the right to be married by any one person.

If it is good enough for gay couples to be told to go get a Civil Partnership and then get a blessing from the Church then the same must be true for straight couples – they should go and get a Civil Wedding and have that blessed rather than getting legally married in church.

There are many clergy who think that the church should get out of the whole legal side of weddings in any case – this may be the start of that.

Clergy of the Church of England – it is time for you to put a ban on banns. The time is coming for you to stop doing weddings. Once the new legislation is passed, if your denomination cannot or will not opt in then the time has come for you to stand up for what’s right. If you support equality, do something about it and show us what you are made of.


  1. I thought that what the government actually said was more of a “obviously with the current canon laws in place, the C of E and the Church in Wales won’t be able to opt in to marriage equality because their canon laws clearly state that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

    To me the ultimate issue is with the churches and their canon laws that need to be changed, no?

  2. Peter Higson says

    Church of England clergy, and Church in Wales clergy, may take note of Giles Fraser’s suggestion: “So it will now be illegal for me to marry two people who live (with) each other. Now there is a cause worth going to prison for.” as report in the Independent.

    • Yes – I saw that tweet from Giles. Whilst supporting the sentiment, I suspect that he is going to have to work quite hard to find a judge willing to send him to prison for it.

  3. Martin Reynolds says

    Yes, bizarre is the right word!

    When the Church in Wales was disestablished back in 1920 it retained its priveledges and responsibilities with regard to marriage.

    So, parishioners’ absolute legal right to be married in the parish church remains, as does the automatic right of Church in Wales clergy to be able to conduct marriages by virtue of their ordination alone.

    We recently amended our requirements for residence to stay in line with the CofE, while they were able to do it through General Synod we had to resort to a Private Bill.

    It now seems there are to be no EXTRA hurdles required by these two Churches, other than the separate Acts of Parliament they would need to change their current practice following agreement of General Synod or Governing Body.

  4. “if your denomination cannot or will not opt in then the time has come for you to stand up for what’s right. If you support equality, do something about it and show us what you are made of.” you not doing any more weddings until the SEC opts in then. Kelvin?

    • I think it quite likely that should the Scottish Episcopal Church chose not to opt into the coming legislation then I would come to be view that the time had come to stop signing marriage papers. That is not the same thing, of course, as stopping doing weddings.

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