Suffolk: Clergy divided over gay marriages

MEMBERS of the clergy across Suffolk remain divided over the “controversial issue” of same-sex marriage.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this week said he wanted churches in England to be allowed to conduct gay wedding ceremonies.

However, culture secretary Maria Miller yesterday promised no church will ever be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage under new legislation. Other religious organisations will be able to “opt in”.

But while the Church of England won’t have to stage gay weddings, members of the clergy today had their say on the issue.

Rev Stephen Russell Lloyd, of St Andrew Church, Ipswich, said: “The proposals went against my beliefs. I was not in favour of them.

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“The definition of marriage is in the Bible. It should be between a man and a woman. It should not be redefined.”

Rev Canon David Cutts, of St Margaret’s Church, Ipswich, said: “It was inevitable this issue was going to be raised and we will now discuss what we will do.

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“But I don’t see why the government are pursuing the line for the definition of marriage to be changed.

“It has been the way it’s been for centuries and I don’t believe there is a consensus for it to change.

“There is a lot of interaction between the church and state, but this is not within their remit.”

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2005 to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples, but the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages.

Rev Jennifer Mary Seggar, of St Mary the Virgin, Bramford, said: “This is a completely new era for the church.

“I think this is the first time in history it has become a major issue and there are many theological issues that need to be explored.

“I think we have got to go back into the Bible and really work out what it means for our communities.

“It needs to be properly discussed but you will risk alienating your congregation either way.

“Church is a democracy and we must all discuss it together before the church council comes to a decision.”

But some church ministers still maintain churches should recognise same-sex unions as marriage.

Rev Andrew Dotchin, of Whitton, St Mary and St Botolph, Ipswich, said: “I look forward to the day when the church welcomes everybody to celebrate their love for each other.

“We have many gay members in the Anglican Church and I would marry them in my church.

“Marriage is a social construct – a promise between two people to be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives.

“I find it really insulting when people say gay people can’t be faithful.

“Gay people should be allowed to commit to each other just like straight people. I find it quite sad that they have to go to register offices for civil partnerships.”

Rev Canon Charles Jenkin, vicar at St Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich, said: “It is a controversial subject but the essence of marriage is the quality of love and committing and expressing that to each other.

“It is about faithfulness and having a stable relationship. It should be extended to same-sex marriage. I don’t see why they can’t participate.”

n What is your view? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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