Ten years before church gay weddings - Jeffrey John

The Very Reverend Jeffrey John says he is confident the church will eventually welcome gay couples at the altar

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A prominent Welsh gay cleric says it could take 10 years for same-sex marriages to be held in church.

But the Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John says he is confident the church will eventually welcome gay couples at the altar.

His prediction comes as the UK government prepares to respond to a consultation on the legalisation of same-sex marriages.

The south Wales-born cleric was talking to Taro Naw, made by BBC for S4C.

"The prime minister wants to see same-sex marriage becoming legal by 2015 and I'm sure that will happen," said Dean John, originally from Tonyrefail in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Dean John has been with his partner, a Church of England hospital chaplain, for nearly 40 years. They became civil partners in 2006.

Start Quote

Differentiating between heterosexual marriages and civil partnerships means that gay couples are being seen as inferior”

End Quote The Very Reverend Jeffrey John Dean of St Albans

"I believe that before long we'll see some kind of official services within the Church to bless gay partnerships, but not same-sex marriages," he added.

"I think that will come but it could take another 10 years. That's how the church works, we're always two steps behind everyone else."

Dean John says gay couples should have the same equal rights to marriage as heterosexuals.

"I've been in a relationship for 37 years and I can testify that the covenant between two people of the same sex is exactly as it is for a marriage between a husband and wife - there is no difference," he said.

JEFFREY JOHN, DEAN OF ST ALBANS

  • He was born in Tonyrefail in 1953, and at the end of the 1970s, he served as a curate in Penarth before returning to Oxford in 1980 for a theology doctorate
  • After a period as a vicar in south London, he became canon chancellor of Southwark Cathedral, and Dean of St Albans
  • Twice "passed over" for two appointments as bishop - firstly at Reading in 2003, then at Southwark in 2010. On both occasions his sexuality was stated to be seen as a "difficulty" for Church of England.
  • Although the most prominent openly gay cleric in the UK, he is famously media-shy, and his interview for Taro Naw is his first on television

"However, as long as there is a difference in law between marriages and civil partnerships, it's certain that partnerships will be viewed as being secondary."

In the programme, he goes on to claim that differentiating between the rights given to heterosexual and gay couples can be compared to the situation in South Africa during the apartheid regime.

"The only purpose for apartheid was to ensure inequality existed between black and white people.

"In the same way, differentiating between heterosexual marriages and civil partnerships means that gay couples are being seen as inferior.

Start Quote

Whichever way you view a partnership between couples of the same sex, it is most definitely not a marriage”

End Quote Canon Philip Wyn Davies Vicar of Tregaron

"It's completely unacceptable," he said.

In April this year, while addressing the Church in Wales' governing body, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said the debate on same-sex marriages was one "which will need to happen".

Canon Philip Wyn Davies, vicar of Tregaron, Ceredigion, is opposed to same-sex marriages.

"The teaching of the Bible tells us that marriage is something unique to a man and a woman," he says.

"To go against that would be a complete contradiction of Christ's own words. Whichever way you view a partnership between couples of the same sex, it is most definitely not a marriage. "

Taro Naw is on S4C on Tuesday 16 October, at 21:00 BST

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