The Church in Wales has voted to allow gay couples to have their civil marriages and unions blessed by a priest.
Members of its governing body voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion on 6 September, meaning church law will allow a “service of blessing following a civil partnership or marriage between two people of the same sex”.
The changes were approved by a vote of 40 to 10 among lay members, 28 to 12 among priests and 4-0 among bishops.
Despite this, gay couples will still not be able to marry in church, with some LGBTQ+ campaigners describing the move as a “halfway house” in the fight for marriage equality.
Clergy members who do not agree will still have the option to refuse giving a blessing if they do not agree with gay marriage.
According to the Church in Wales, this is “a step on the way towards repentance of a history in the church which has demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people, forcing them into fear, dishonesty and sometimes even hypocrisy, and which has precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership”.
The move makes the Church of England the only Anglican church in Britain to neither conduct nor bless same-sex unions.
The Scottish Epsicopal Church voted in favour of performing same-sex marriages four years ago.
Senior officials with the Church in Wales claimed that the change would be “controversial” for those who strictly believe that marriage can only exist between a man and woman.
The Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Rev Gregory Cameron, revealed that he does not agree with this sentiment, but that the Bible “can only be read in a way that is hostile to gay and lesbian relationships”.
“If they want to seek God’s blessing, I will not forbid them,” he added.
All eyes are now on the Church of England to allow for same-sex marriages to be blessed in the hope that one day they will conduct the ceremonies too.
English bishops are reportedly looking into how they teach sexuality and are expected to report back next year – though whether or not this means the changes will be implemented is yet to be seen.
We are delighted that @ChurchInWales has today allowed churches to bless LGBTQ+ marriages and civil partnerships. A very important step forward to celebrate that #LoveIsLove. (1/2) https://t.co/Ksa4cmJcsO
— Stonewall Cymru (@StonewallCymru) September 6, 2021