CAI Chair’s statement on Equal marriage in England and Wales, 29th March 2014

As Chair of our Church of Ireland group, Changing Attitude Ireland, I welcome the extension of civil marriage to same sex couples in England and Wales from 29th March 2014. In particular we extend our congratulations to our fellow Anglicans in England and Wales on their civil marriages, with Scotland to soon follow.
We hope that marriage equality will be extended to Northern Ireland and introduced in the Republic of Ireland without undue delay. We are concerned that the many gay and lesbian Anglicans who migrate between Britain and Ireland will find the different marriage provisions from 29th March 2014 a legal disadvantage.
As a faith group Changing Attitude Ireland supports marriage equality not despite its faith background but because of it, believing marriage and stable relationships to be one of the bedrocks of society.
We understand that for couples of faith marriage is also a spiritual experience. Therefore, we are delighted that in Britain the Quakers, the Unitarians and liberal Jews are willing to and permitted by law to register civil marriages on their premises in conjunction with a religious service.
We are disappointed that the Church of England has for the present declined to affirm its gay and lesbian members by its refusal to permit its premises to be used for, or its clergy to assist with, civil marriage ceremonies. We hope that in time the Church of England and the Church of Ireland will allow those individual clergy and parishes who wish to practice inclusion to be permitted to do so.
In addition we hope that the Church of England and the Church of Ireland will develop an official liturgy for the blessing of same sex couples who are entering into or have entered a civil partnership or a civil marriage. We are encouraged by the accommodation that has been made by the Anglican Church for divorcees who remarry and believe that a similar accommodation for same sex couples is possible
Dr Richard O’Leary
Chair, Changing Attitude Ireland