18 Apr 2013

Churches review stance on same sex marriage

9:42 pm on 18 April 2013

Presbyterian and Anglican churches are considering their stance on marrying gay couples after MPs voted to legalise same sex marriage, but the Catholic Church is not reviewing its position.

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill passed its third and final reading in Parliament in a 77 to 44 vote on Wednesday night.

The legalisation amends the Marriage Act so that two people - regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity - can marry.

The bill will be in force by the end of August, four months after it receives Royal Assent.

The Anglican Church says gay couples will not be able to marry in their churches until the General Synod meets next May, when it will consider the issue.

The Presbyterian Church says at this stage its position on marriage is that it is between a man and a woman, however the Right Reverend Ray Coster says it will have a clearer position when its General Assembly meets in October 2014.

The Catholic Church has said it will not marry gay couples and is not reviewing that stance.

Under the Marriage Act, priests are not obliged to officiate at any marriage that would contravene Catholic beliefs.

Meanwhile, one Presbyterian Church says it has received its first firm request to officiate at a same sex marriage from two Catholic women.

Margaret Mayman, the minister of St Andrews on The Terrace in Wellington, says individual parishes have freedom of belief on the issue and her church is going to conduct ceremonies.