April 10, 2008

Equal-Rights Church Suspends Weddings


by Rachael Grant

Newington Green Unitarian Church in Islington, London, has become the first in Britain to suspend full weddings until current wedding laws have been changed to allow homosexual partners the same religious rights as heterosexual.

The 300 year old church, which has a creed stating ‘freedom, reason, and tolerance’, will from now on only perform informal ceremonial blessings for both straight and gay couples who have already been named in a legal ceremony.

Andrew Pakula, the minister of the church, revealed that the 50 members of his congregation all agree with the move which will mean full ceremonies will be suspended from March 30th.

Chairman of national Gay and Lesbian Christian Movement, Rev Richard Kirker, opens the decision of the church with open arms, stating that he is proud of the steps they are taking and hopes that other churches will follow suit.

The decision has been made following a Unitarian’s national conference call for the Civil Partnership Act to be changed to allow religious content in civil ceremonies.

The Civil Partnership Act, brought into play in 2005, allows same-sex couples the same legal status as heterosexual married couples. However, currently they are not allowed a full combined legal and religious ceremony.

Pakula, speaking on behalf of his church, believes that homosexual religious couples are currently being treated as second-rate because of this, and says that his church’s ban of full ceremonies will continue, despite possible loss of income, until the law has been changed.

‘We are standing on the side of love’, is the message Pakula is promoting loud and clear.

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