Gay minister claims discrimination

Waikato Bishop David Moxon was told Hamilton priest David Lord was gay at least three years before he horrified church authorities by taking part in its first gay wedding, according to another Anglican priest.

Dr Lord relinquished his clergy licence earlier this month after fall-out from his high-profile gay blessing ceremony in London with his partner the Rev Peter Cowell which has reignited rifts within the church.

Waikato Diocesan has a policy of not issuing licences to openly gay clergy and in 2004 Keith King was declined a licence to practice in Hamilton.

However Reverend King now practising in Auckland says he questioned Bishop Moxon about the policy when he heard Dr Lord had been ordained as a deacon.

He met Bishop Moxon and asked why Dr Lord had been able to be ordained and he had been refused a licence.

Bishop Moxon told him he was unaware Dr Lord was gay. "I was nonplussed, to say the least," Rev King said.

Since that time Dr Lord has been ordained as a priest.

Asked for a response to Rev King's comments this week, Bishop Moxon said, "the facts are not fully reported", but privacy considerations prevented him going into further detail.

Rev King practises in Auckland and is assistant priest at St Columba Anglican Church, Grey Lynn. He and his partner Hilton Topia recently moved back to Auckland from Gordonton.

Dr Lord's lavish wedding on May 31, attended by about 300 guests, contained elements similar to a traditional marriage and has been dubbed the Anglican church's first gay wedding.

The couple exchanged diamond encrusted wedding bands and cut a giant seven-tier cake, before their first dance together.

Pictures have appeared around the world of the event which reportedly cost $210,000.

It comes at a time when the church is deeply divided on issues of homosexuality.

The Bishop of London has ordered an urgent investigation into the wedding which has been described by senior members of the church as ``blasphemous''.    

Meanwhile Russell Armitage, Waikato's Anglican diocesan manager, has spoken out about what it is like to be gay within the church.

Mr Armitage says while most people within the church have  been very respectful of his sexuality there is a bigoted element which undermines its good work.  

"How can the Church be taken seriously or receive any respect for its views on the far more important issues of poverty, violence and social justice when the public keep being reminded of this blot on its integrity  the continued discrimination against gays?''

Waikato Times