The Church in Wales and gay weddings: is God devolved?


The UK government's plan to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales - but only in some churches - has thrown up some unexpected questions.

The most obvious one asks why the disestablished Church in Wales is being treated in the same way as the (established) Church of England.

Former Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price tweeted: "Why is the English equalities minister banning gay marriage in a disestablished Church whose Archbishop is in favour? Wales should decide."

Maria Miller, for it is she, told MPs: "Because the Church of England and Wales have explicitly stated that they do not wish to conduct same-sex marriage, the legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples.

"That provision recognises and protects the unique and established nature of those Churches."

Unique and established? Perhaps she meant the Church of England is established and the Church in Wales unique.

So why is the Church in Wales included in the proposed new law? It suggests it didn't state explicitly opposition to same-sex marriage, merely said - in its response to the consultation - there wasn't a need for it because of the introduction of civil partnerships.

Perhaps the answer lies in the devolution settlement. Although the Church in Wales is disestablished, under the marriage law it believes it is under the same legal obligation as the Church of England to marry people where there is a link to their parishes.

Mrs Miller may have succeeded in re-assuring Tory MPs that churches won't be forced to carry out same-sex marriages but the Archbishop of Wales wishes his Church had been treated in the same way as other faiths who will be able to opt in to the legislation.

The equalities minister will also face a written parliamentary question from Wrexham Labour MP Ian Lucas, who is trying to find out more about consultation between her department and the Church in Wales.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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