NZ's first gay wedding loses venue

ROBERT KIDD AND MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 15:25 18/07/2013
Radio station ZM’s “Fabulous Gay Wedding” competition was all set to hold the ceremony at the Hobson St church, which is well know for its liberal congregation and controversial billboard campaigns.
VENUE ISSUES: The “Fabulous Gay Wedding” competition was set to hold the ceremony at the Hobson St church, which is well know for its liberal congregation and controversial billboard campaigns.

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Anglican Church rules have prevented a radio station hosting one of the country's first gay weddings at central Auckland's St Matthew-in-the-City church.

Radio station ZM is running a Fabulous Gay Wedding competition and one of the prizes was to have been a ceremony at the church, which is well know for its liberal congregation and controversial billboard campaigns.

But the radio station has announced "they  (the church) have now decided that the marriage ceremony can no longer take place at St Matthew".

Vicar Glynn Cardy said that while he thought the Anglican policy discriminated against gay and lesbian couples, St Matthew had always intended to work within the rules.

Those required same gender couples to be legally married in a civil ceremony elsewhere before taking part in a ceremony at the church.

"We were in a process of discussion and clarification with ZM," Cardy said.

"When it became clear to them that the civil ceremony part couldn't be part of what we would do at St Matthew, then they decided they couldn't proceed," he said.

"We felt we were clear that was always our bottom line. It wasn't like we got a directive from on high."

He wanted to see the Anglican policy change, but thought that could take many years.

The Bishop of Auckland Ross Bay issued a statement, seeking to make clear no directive had been given to Cardy that "caused a last minute halt to a proposed gay wedding".

No direction was given as there was never an intention for such a wedding to take place as Cardy was working within existing Anglican Church policy, Bay said.

"The Anglican Church's governance structures in New Zealand are independent of the Church of England. It is not possible for the Church of England to issue orders or instructions to the New Zealand Church.

"Such a suggestion by ZM is incorrect and a result of a misunderstanding of church governance structures," Bay said.

"The Anglican Church defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Within the Church, discussions are taking place about the nature of marriage and the Church's response to those who are seeking same-gender marriage.

"The Anglican Church seeks to be a welcoming place to all people, including the gay community, and is committed to how that can be so in practice while retaining respect for the diverse beliefs of many people in the church over this issue."  

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ZM's competition is down to its final four couples.

The pair who top the public vote win an all-expenses-paid wedding and a reception at The Cloud on Auckland's viaduct on August 19.

An earlier version of this story said the wedding had been organised to be held in the church. The Anglican Church says this was a misunderstanding. 

- Stuff

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