Anglican Church still ‘equality-free zone’ for same-sex couples, says Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller

Fr Peter MacLeod-Miller
Fr Peter MacLeod-Miller

St Matthews Church in Albury has been warned against blessing any same-sex marriages, despite having the support of the congregation.

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller says he is frustrated and ashamed he cannot marry gay couples who now have the same legal, if not religious rights.

“I’ve been warned that if I was to officially bless anyone that my head is on the line,” he said. “At the moment the church won’t allow it, and that’s not because our congregation won’t allow it or because I’m unwilling.

“I don’t have the religious freedom to conduct it - the church is an equality-free zone.”

Father MacLeod-Miller said people are “gunning for him” because of his progressive views, but believed that was a reason to step forward, not back.

The Anglican Church’s official position is that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, regardless of the change in law.

That can only change through a vote at the next general synod of the church to be held in 2020, if there is enough internal support.

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier previously said he would vote no in the postal survey on same-sex marriage, but encouraged others to act on their conscience.

“We can still stand for and offer holy matrimony between a man and a woman as a sacred ordinance given by God, while accepting that the state has endorsed a wider view of marriage,” he said.

“I do not believe that the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage.”

But Father MacLeod-Miller does not accept he will never be allowed to marry people at St Matthews and is holding onto hope of change.

HAPPY UNION: Father Peter MacLeod-Miller conducted an unofficial hand-clasping ceremony at the wedding of Gary Hayward and Andy Stevens last week. Picture: DAVID THORPE

HAPPY UNION: Father Peter MacLeod-Miller conducted an unofficial hand-clasping ceremony at the wedding of Gary Hayward and Andy Stevens last week. Picture: DAVID THORPE

“We’re helping to arrange a number of weddings, we have already, and I’m glad to be a part of that,” he said.

He said he was honoured to be a part of the same-sex wedding of Yackandanah’s Gary Hayward and Andy Stevens last week, even if it was not in an official capacity.

“I actually said they blessed us and that’s worth a whole lot more,” Father MacLeod-Miller said. “I’m hoping their wedding will open that understanding for people and open a community of more compassionate people. I think it’s a sign that people are actually getting better.”

He has committed to continue standing up for people who experience prejudice, including faith-based prejudice