Priests marry in first gay church wedding

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The Independent Online

The first gay marriage has been carried out in an Anglican church between two vicars, weeks before a summit of senior clergy threatens to split the Church over the issue of homosexual priests.

The Rev Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London last month, using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites.

Some clergy have carried out blessings for civil partnerships, but this is the first time a wedding service has been held for a same-sex couple, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The Lambeth Conference, attended by some 800 Anglican bishops and archbishops from around the globe, takes place in Canterbury next month.

The service broke Church of England guidelines, which state that gay clergy can enter into a civil partnership if they provide assurances that they will abstain from sex. It was also carried out after the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, warned the parish rector the Rev Martin Dudley that it breached the guidelines.

The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, said: "The leadership tried to deny this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching."

Mr Dudley said: "I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment."