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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
'Gay wedding' MP attacks Church
Ben Bradshaw
Mr Bradshaw said the Church of England risked being sidelined
Ben Bradshaw, one of the first MPs to have a civil partnership ceremony, has criticised the Church of England for not recognising same-sex partnerships.

The 45-year-old Labour MP for Exeter tied the knot with BBC Newsnight journalist Neal Dalgleish in June.

He told BBC Radio 4 it was "the happiest day of my life".

However, Mr Bradshaw said the Church risked being sidelined by its refusal to recognise the unions which were legalised in December last year.

This is ludicrous and unworkable
Ben Bradshaw
Mr Bradshaw said: "The priest who blessed us was breaking the rules.

"Those rules allow clergy to be prayerful with and about same-sex couples but they expressly forbid the blessing of civil partnerships.

"This is ludicrous and unworkable. And it's being routinely ignored by Anglican and Roman Catholic priests, many of whom themselves are gay and without whose ministry many parishes would collapse.

"They can't discipline or sack our priest who did our blessing because he is retired. But had he still been working he could have lost his job and his home."

More than 6,500 people took part in ceremonies in the four months after laws allowing civil partnerships were brought in.

Mr Bradshaw, who has been with his partner for 11 years, said few pieces of legislation have "spread so much happiness".

But he added: "If my oldest Italian friend, a devout Christian, who came to our civil partnership with her husband and children, could say in tears after the ceremony that she found it beautiful and that nothing in it had offended her Italian Catholic consciousness, then I fear the church is in danger of being left on the wrong side of history."




SEE ALSO
Minister announces gay 'wedding'
08 Mar 06 |  UK Politics
Couples tie knot in 'gay capital'
21 Dec 05 |  Southern Counties
Q&A: Civil partnership
05 Dec 05 |  UK Politics

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