Church in Wales exempt from same-sex marriage law

Here's a quick update on the UK government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

The Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, has been updating MPs - and explaining how places of worship won't be forced to hold gay weddings. Indeed, the Church in Wales will get its exemption from the new law written in the legislation.

Mrs Miller told MPs: "Because the Church of England and Wales (sic) 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.

"This provision recognises and protects the unique and established nature of these churches. The churches' canon law will also continue to ban the marriage of same-sex couples, therefore even if these institutions wanted to conduct same-sex marriage it would require a change in primary legislation at a later date and a change in canon law, additional protection that cannot be breached."

This is part of what she called a "quadruple legal lock" to guarantee protection for religious organisations from a challenge to their policy on the subject.

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant - a former Church of England vicar - said the plans didn't go far enough: "I find it difficult to believe that any Christian would not want to extend marriage".

Cardiff West Labour MP Kevin Brennan pointed out that the Church in Wales is disestablished although it will be treated in the new law the same way as the established Church of England.

Mrs Miller told him: "What I'm doing there is to really recognise the very different obligations that are on the Church of England and the Church in Wales and to make sure that protections there are reflecting those obligations in full."