London, Dec. 11 (AP): The British government announced today that it will introduce a bill next year legalising gay marriage — but banning the church of England from conducting same-sex ceremonies.
Equalities minister Maria Miller said the legislation would authorise same-sex civil marriages, as well as religious ceremonies if religions decide to “opt in”. “I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the state should not stand in their way,” Miller said.
Some religious groups, such as Quakers and liberal Jews, say they want to conduct same-sex ceremonies. But others, including the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, oppose gay marriage. Miller said the legislation would make it unlawful for the church of England — the country's official church, symbolically headed by Queen Elizabeth II — and the Anglican Church in Wales to conduct gay weddings. The government does not have the same legal authority over other churches.