A gay vicar from Kilburn is risking his place in the Church of England after vowing to marry his partner of fourteen years.
Friar Andrew Cain revealed his engagement to atheist Stephen Foreshaw on Valentine’s Day, ignoring edicts from the Church of England leaders describing marriage as solely a “lifelong union between one man and one woman.”
The vicar, who serves St. James’ in West Hampstead, could become the first gay clergy member to enter a same-sex marriage in the country. The first legal same-sex marriages in the UK are set to begin on March 29, 2014.
Speaking to the Kilburn Times, he said he found it “very sad” that bishops were continuing to block marriage equality within his church.
“It’s very sad that only now is my sexuality suddenly becoming an issue for some people. The church wants to promote faithful and stable relationships—the bedrock of our society. Well, I am in a faithful and stable relationship,” he said.
“God made me like this. He gave me Stephen and I’m pretty sure he would want me to be happy with him.”
When the Marriage Act (legalizing marriage equality) was passed in 2013 in England and Wales, the Church of England was excluded from these laws due to their religious freedom rights.
This has left gay bishops and vicars struggling to understand their own rights to marriage within the church.
The day after Cain’s engagement announcement, the Church was quick to reiterate its stance on same-sex marriage in a statement: “We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged. Getting married to someone of the same sex would clearly be at variance with the teaching of the church.”
Thus far, however, Bishops have remained tight-lipped on whether Cain will be disciplined or lose his position within the Church of England following his nuptials.