Wedding ban for Anglicans in Wales and England

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Commenting on the government's stated intention to make it illegal for same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed by the Church of England and Church in Wales, alone of all English and Welsh Christian denominations, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, said:

"The government seems to have got itself in a real mess here. Just when it seemed to have articulated a clear and fair position -- that religious groups could offer weddings to same-sex couples but would be protected from anyone forcing them into providing them -- it has introduced a ban on just two of many churches, opening itself to the very legal confusion and action that everyone wants to avoid.

"The ban on performing same-sex ceremonies in the Church of England, while an unacceptable breach of religious freedom, at least makes sense in terms of it being an established church -- though arguably it would make far more sense to disestablish it than to get caught up in legal provisions to hamper or compel English Anglicans.

"However, singling out the Church in Wales seems additionally peculiar, because it is not actually a state church and was finally disestablished in 1920, under the Welsh Church Act 1914.

"One wonders whether the Westminster government, which is often very English- and London-centric in its purview, has forgotten this.

"Perhaps, equally oddly, it decided to create a level playing field for Anglicans in England and Wales, following comments in the Church in Wales' submission about possible legal implications of recognition of same-sex marriages, while effectively discriminating against them in relation to all other denominations and religions.

"We will have to wait and see, but it is hard to understand how these provisions can be sustained, legally or morally."