The Church of England and the Church in Wales will be banned in
law from conducting same-sex marriages under the new same-sex
marriage bill, the government has announced.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said that the Church in England
and Wales had "explicitly stated" their opposition to the proposed
equal marriage plans, and so the government would "explicitly state
that it will be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to
marry same-sex couples".
The ban is part of a package of measures intended to protect
religious freedom, which the government terms a 'quadruple lock'.
Miller said: "I am absolutely clear that no religious organisation
will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples, and
I would not bring in a bill which would allow that."
However, gay parents of five, Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow
have launched a campaign against the plans to ban same-sex
marriages in Anglican churches. Barrie said: "The government are
attempting to enshrine discrimination in law against people because
they are gay.
"Like many people, we look forward to being married in our local
church, the same church where our children were baptized. Now we
are banned in law because we are gay, even if the vicar wanted to
marry us. It's not just about human rights, it's about doing what's
Barrister Sophie Cannon who is representing Barrie and Tony's
legal interests argues that the government has banned all churches
of England and Wales before they had a chance to opt in. "The
situation before us is an attempt to reconcile the inevitable
confrontation between the Church and the state on who defines
"However, in unilaterally exempting the Church of England and
Wales, before it had an opportunity to opt it; the state has left
it to the individual to challenge both institutions on an issue
which they themselves have been battling since the establishment of
There has been support for same-sex marriages within the Church.
Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales said: "In my personal opinion
it's a great pity it's illegal for us not to have even the
possibility to do it. It should be left for us to opt in or
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Bishop of Oxford has also claimed
there are a "fair number" of serving bishops who supported gay
marriage but were unable to say publicly.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, London Mayor Boris Johnson and
former PM John Major have also backed same-sex marriage by
The bill does allow for other faith groups to conduct same-sex
marriages in their religious buildings if they wish. The outright
ban extends only to the Church of England and Wales.