Felixstowe: Gay marriage has divided the religious community but retired reverend says church needs to accept the change
PUBLISHED: 18:30 30 April 2014
As legislation allowing same-sex marriages came into force and the first ceremonies took place at the end of last month, the issue was still one that divided the church.
And as Reverend David Miller of Felixstowe witnessed those initial scenes of celebration, he was filled with mixed emotions.
For while they represented a victory for something he had fought for for many years, there was still a feeling that the gay community in the UK, while it had reached equality in law, had still not fully achieved its goal.
Rev Miller, who is retired but, along with his life partner, Deacon Gerard Hughes, is now planning to officiate at same-sex weddings, said: “It has gone on for years and years and we have now got to the stage where we are nearly there.
“Unfortunately the established church hasn’t caught up with it but they will do in the end.
“The government brought it in to law but the Church of England was allowed to not do it.
“Whoever you are, if you are in the parish you can go to the parish priest, and say I want to get married and he has probably never seen you before and he has to do it.
“I have done hundreds of gay blessings over the years and many of those sincerely had some belief in God. They were sincere in having a religious blessing on a relationship.
“Now we have equal rights in law, however we are marginalised by the church and that’s not good enough.
“We are getting there and, of course, there are people that can testify of the long hard road it has been.”
The law change allowing same-sex marriages came into force at midnight on March 29 – with many couples tieing the knot at that time.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act actually came into force in July last year but it was not until March 13 this year that couples were able to register their intention to marry under the Act for the first time.
Prime minister David Cameron hailed it as a “powerful message” about equality in Britain as he exclaimed: “When people’s love is divided by law, it is that law that needs to change.”
It may have been a truly historic moment, but it is still something that splits the opinions of those in the church, with many Christian leaders saying it is against scripture and their beliefs and that marriage, as explained in the bible, should be between a man and a woman.
In an interview with this newspaper last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Very simply, parliament has passed the law and we accept the right of parliament to pass the law.
“We continue to do what we have always done as a church which is to say we love a person irrespective of who they are.”
It is that sentiment that Rev Miller, who served in Brighton for 20 years, still thinks has not quite been reached yet with all in the church.
But it is still his hope that one day same-sex marriage will not be a divisive issue and will be accepted by all.
He added: “I think we are getting there in society and generally nobody questions it and it is accepted. It is the religious aspect and church establishment that won’t come in line.”