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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 12:25 GMT
Vicar criticises same sex 'marriages'
Gay couple
The law does not recognise the civil ceremonies
A vicar has spoken out against a west Wales local authority's decision to hold same sex marriages.

Reverend Geoffrey Fewkes of Pantygwydr Baptist Church in Swansea says the city council's ceremonies are sinful and immoral and "a total waste of time and money".


Sin is sin and a gay relationship is a sin

Reverend Geoffrey Fewkes

But Swansea council - the first in Wales to offer the civil service - is standing by its decision to organise commitment ceremonies in its registry offices.

Gay couples in the city have called Reverend Fewkes a bigot.

But he believes the ceremonies should not go ahead.

He said: "They are not good socially, morally or financially.

"These commitment ceremonies - whether held for gays or heterosexual are not legally binding - they can not and should not replace marriage.

Rev Fewkes said there was no need for the city to waste its resources on such an arrangement.

"Sin is sin and a gay relationship is a sin."

"There can never be a marriage between two people of the same sex - it's not productive, no children can come from it," he said.

"This was not a good day for a city that seeks to flourish."

But Duncan Atkinson and Andrew Cole of Mayhill - who are considering using the service - say there is a need.

Mr Atkinson, 63, said: "The vicar is nothing but a bigot and I really would like to meet him face to face.

"Being gay is not a sin.

"This is why the chapels are empty, people are being driven away - churches are going to have to start moving with the times."

Equality

Swansea council said the ceremonies - which are not recognised by law - also allow heterosexual couples, who do not wish to marry, to make a public commitment to one another.

A spokeswoman said: "The council's equal opportunity principles provide for all members of the community to be treated equally."

"A commitment ceremony provides a service that would otherwise not be available outside of marriage."

The commitment ceremonies are one of three new services that Swansea council has introduced.

An alternative to baptisms, called civil naming ceremonies, and a renewal of marriage vows are also on offer.


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