What About Gay Christians Who Want to Get Married in Church?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 7:52 PM
This originally appeared on HuffpostUK If the Church of England doesn't accept gay marriage- where does it leave the thousands of gay Anglicans in same sex partnerships who want to get married? According to David Cameron, no religious organization will be forced to conduct same sex marriages. Regardless, the Anglicans have got their gilded linen knickers in a twist. With only a day left in the Government's official consultation period, boiling point has been well and fully reached. My partner and I are both Christians. There, I said it. It's much easier to come out as a lesbian than as a Christian these days... but that's a different Huffington Post blog post altogether. A few years ago we had a civil partnership on our 15th anniversary. We booked a small room at Westminster Registry Office. We had our closest male friends as witnesses. We wore vintage dresses and gardenia corsages. Our families were there (well, most of them). But it lacked the fundamental meaning that we both craved- a recognition of our faith. Now, I'm under no illusion. It was exactly what a civil partnership/wedding should be - a secular ceremony to join two people together in the eyes of the law. And we did it for all the legal benefits it accords - boring but helpful nuts and bolts stuff like next of kin rights, property and inheritance tax relief. But as Christians, our civil partnership seemed like a hollow gesture. Signing a bit of paper in a stuffy room above council offices in front of a civil servant I'd never met sucked the meaning out of the event. Sure, our mums shed tears and friends snapped pictures to remember our "special day". But for us, the ceremony was awkward and meaningless. We wanted to get married in church. Not because it's a prettier venue, or to walk down the aisle, or to have atmospheric organ music playing in the background. But because we wanted our partnership sealed in the eyes of God and the Anglican church. I believe God brought us together and has blessed our relationship. The Church is a different story. The current government is not helping matters. It was under the previous Labour government that each and every piece of LGBT equality legislation was passed. I can't help but feel that David Cameron is trying to get same sex marriage onto the lawbooks to atone for his party's past pro-Section 28 sins. And if he does, we'll never hear the end of it. Conservatives eager to show just how "progressive" the party is will harp on for decades about how Labour weren't able to get gay marriage on the statute books, but THEY were... thus sweeping under the carpet every legal advance for equality enabled by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The Anglican Church's arguments against same sex marriage are obviously out of touch with the 21st century. With each and every bishop wheeled onto Radio 4 to argue against the impending doom of loving homos getting hitched, their obsession with semantics hides some deep seated homophobia. Marriage is a loaded word; so is gay. So is Christian. Perhaps language just hasn't caught up with the times - kind of like the Church of England itself. My partner and I have racked up nearly 19 years together, but I refuse to be called her wife. The word is just too weighted. For a start, we aren't officially married. And even if we were (or will be), as a feminist the word 'wife' brings me out in hives. I'm all for reinvention and reclamation of outmoded and derogatory terms, but 'wife' is one I've just not got my head around yet. Regardless of what the government decides on same sex marriage, I still won't be able to get a Gay Upgrade and marry in my parish church. If passed, the Same Sex Marriage Bill means we will be able to get married in a Quaker Meeting House. Nice idea, but I'm not a Quaker. Same for the Unitarian and Lutheran Churches. I doubt the Anglican Church will ever allow it, at least not in my lifetime, and that makes me very sad. I am unsure of the additional benefits of marriage as opposed to civil partnership, and if my faith is ignored in the reformulation of this law, what is it worth? Absolutely nothing. I feel let down by the Anglican Church - that's nothing new, I'm used to it. I'm also being let down by a ConDem Government fudging the issue by allowing Church exemption from conducting same sex marriages. That's nothing new, I'm used to it. So where will gay and lesbian Anglicans get married? Rowan Williams... are you listening? Nope... thought not.