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article imageChurch’s pension move for same-sex partners

By Andrew John     Feb 12, 2010 in World
The Church of England’s rule-making body's decision to extend pension rights beyond the legal minimum for same-sex partners has been welcomed.
The motion, in the General Synod, was carried by a large majority. It has been welcomed by the Inclusive Church network and others working for equality.
“The move gives gay civil partners the same rights as heterosexual widows or widowers. Previously, partners of gay clergy were allowed benefits, but only in respect of service since 2005, when civil partnerships were first instituted [in the UK] by statute,” says the religious think tank Ekklesia.
The subject of gays in the church has caused cracks in the unity of the Anglican Communion.
But the Inclusive Church chair, the Rev. Canon Giles Goddard, is quoted as saying: “This vote underlines Archbishop Rowan Williams’s earlier comments and clearly demonstrates that the Church of England is opposed to all forms of homophobia. I hope this will be the beginning of a new openness towards LGBT people in the church.”
Ekklesia warns that yesterday’s decision “does not betoken moral agreement on homosexuality or its further acceptance in ministry” by the church as a whole. It says:
“Unelected bishops in the House of Lords [the UK’s upper legislative chamber] also helped to defeat the Government in the House of Lords on the Equality Bill – a development welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury – and in particular an amendment sponsored by three other faith communities which would have reversed a ban against couples who wish their civil partnership to be marked by a religious token of commitment.”
The Equality Bill seeks to end discrimination against gay people in employment, including that by religious organizations, but amendments to the Bill recently removed some equality measures, notably those that would have prevented discrimination even in nonreligious posts such as janitor and office worker.
“Nevertheless,” says Ekklesia, “the pensions move will have a significant impact on a number of people who would otherwise be exposed to living in severely reduced circumstances.”
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