West Hampstead vicar condemns gay marriage ban - ‘I’m embarrassed that I can’t wed same-sex couples’

Father Andrew Cain has put up 'Keep calm and support equal marriage' posters after condemning the An

Father Andrew Cain has put up 'Keep calm and support equal marriage' posters after condemning the Anglican Church for its stance on gay marriage. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

A West Hampstead vicar has condemned the Anglican Church for its “unacceptable” stance on gay marriage – saying he is embarrassed at not being able to wed same-sex couples.

Father Andrew Cain has put up “Keep calm and support equal marriage” posters in his churches of St James’ in Sheriff Road, West Hampstead, and St Mary’s with All Souls in Kilburn.

He said he would be delighted to perform the ceremony, which comes into law on March 29, but is legally unable to do so.

“The bishops have made a fuss and I’m embarrassed by their position,” he said.

“During the debate in England, Anglican bishops made a terrible fuss and said that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“As a result, when the government introduced the law, they took them at their words and excluded the Church of England.

“But those who were in favour found themselves in a situation where we’ve been legally excluded from performing the ceremony.

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“It was just deeply embarrassing for the church – it’s no longer acceptable.”

The congregations of both Fr Andrew’s parish churches support same-sex marriage and both church halls are registered to perform civil ceremonies for couples.

“Both church councils and my congregation are very open,” he said. “People wouldn’t come to St James’ unless they shared that view.”

Fr Andrew has often conducted “services of thanksgiving” for same-sex couples and blessings at the church if they have a civil wedding. He added: “I’m very proud of being Church of England. They’ve just made a terrible mistake and I would want gay and lesbian people to know there is a welcome for them in the church and many churches in London.

“Sadly the bishops have made that difficult to get across.

“I would like people to know that we’re not against it. I absolutely would conduct a ceremony but legally I cannot.”

But Fr Andrew has “absolute confidence” that the Church of England will change its stance.

“It’s just going to take those of us in favour a long time,” he said.

“I don’t want to turn anybody away. What we should be doing is extending God’s welcome and that’s not for us to police. The Church makes a mistake in thinking we’re welcoming people as if it’s some kind of private club and actually God welcomes all of us.

“I think you’d find that the majority of parishes agree. You will find that privately the welcome priests will give to gay and lesbian couples will be exactly the same.”