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Gay marriage: priests to defy Church line with same-sex services

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Leading liberal priests in the Church of England are preparing to stage unofficial gay marriage ceremonies despite the Church’s official opposition to same-sex unions.

Campaigners claim that there could be “hundreds” of blessing services, complete with prayers, readings and even a form of vows taking place “under the radar” within the established church from early next year.

They believe a “groundswell” of support from within sections of the Church could eventually open the way for a challenge to the official line on same-sex weddings.

Others, including a handful of well known landmark churches and cathedrals, are planning to openly stage special services of “prayer and dedication” for gay couples, almost identical to blessings already on offer for heterosexual couples who chose to marry in a register office.

The Church of England has been a vocal opponent of David Cameron’s plans to allow gay couples to marry, which received the backing of the Commons on Tuesday, warning that it could even threaten disestablishment.

Bishops have negotiated a so-called “quadruple lock” of legal measure designed to prevent the priests being forced to carry out gay weddings against their will.

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