Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013
Since March 29 2014, under the provisions of this Act, same-sex marriages are permitted by law in England and Wales and, as a result of this, clerics may receive enquiries from same sex couples seeking to be married in church.
As the law stands, same-sex marriages may not be solemnised by the Church in Wales. Such marriages are also at variance with the church’s doctrine of marriage which states that marriage is a lifelong and faithful union between a man and a woman.
The church, however, has to recognise the legality of same-sex marriages but also has to recognise that there is now a dissonance between it and the State’s view. The bishops have now published a report to them from the church’s Doctrinal Commission on the matter and it will be discussed by members of the Church in Wales Governing Body at its meeting in April.
Should the Governing Body decide in the future that the church should solemnise same-sex marriages and the bishops propose a Canon to that effect, the Lord Chancellor is obliged to bring measures to change the law to make that possible.
In the meantime, clergy who seek themselves to enter into same-sex marriages risk doing something which is not consonant with the teaching they have bound themselves to uphold and live out and therefore should consult with their bishop at the earliest opportunity for guidance and pastoral support.
The bishops, however remain committed to a church which both reflects the welcome of Christ and affirms the dignity of all people.
The Bishops of the Church in Wales agreed the following statement on marriage between same-sex couples in March 2012.
We abide by the Christian doctrine of marriage as the union of one man with one woman freely entered into for life. We acknowledge that whilst issues of human sexuality are not resolved, there are couples living in other life-long committed relationships who deserve the welcome, pastoral care and support of the Church. We are committed to further listening, prayerful reflection and discernment regarding same-sex relationships.