Bournemouth Hosts First Gay Marriage In UK Church

14 April 2014, 13:18 | Updated: 14 April 2014, 13:23

A same-sex couple have married in Bournemouth, in what is believed to be the UK's first gay wedding held in a church.

Jan Tipper and Barb Burden tied the knot at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) on Saturday.

The law allowed same-sex couples to marry on 29 March, but this was the first ceremony to be conducted in a religious building, the MCC says.

Reverend Dwayne Morgan, who officiated at the ceremony, said the church had taken pride in "celebrating diversity'' on the "historic day''.

Ms Burden and Ms Tipper, who have attended MCC for 15 years, said they were surprised to discover their wedding was a first.

"To get married in our church was very significant to us,'' Ms Tipper said. "Even though we've been together for almost 19 years it didn't feel right for us to have just a blessing or even a Civil Partnership.

"We've hoped for years for the opportunity to legally marry and once it became possible we knew it was time for us to tie the knot and to do it before God in our church with our friends and family.''

The church, based in Pokesdown, was registered for same-sex marriages when the recent changes in the law took effect at the end of March.

Ms Burden added:

"As it's been approved since 29 March, we assumed there had already been others who had taken advantage. Unfortunately it shows the lack of effective ministry by most churches to gay people in so many ways.''

MCC was established in Bournemouth in 1979 and is associated with the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, which has churches in more than 40 countries.

Rev Morgan said:

"We have been offering wedding services for same-sex couples for many years in our church because we believe that God blesses the love of two people no matter what their gender.

"But to finally have the Government fully recognise their love by giving them complete legal status as a married couple is a blessing for everyone.

"We are extremely pleased that the Government didn't just listen to those churches that wanted to completely block same-sex couples from the right to have their marriage consecrated in their place of worship, but heard the voices of the minority of people of faith who believe that God doesn't discriminate.

"We are grateful to all those who have struggled for the rights of gay people for so many years that has led us to this historic day.''

Rev Morgan added that the change in the law to allow gay marriage meant the Government had "finally caught up with us''.