The Anglican Church In Wales took the first steps towards allowing clergy to celebrate same sex marriage in its churches when more than half its Governing Body voted in favour of the move.
A secret ballot in Lampeter, Ceredigion showed that just over half, 61 out of 120 members, were in favour of change. Much more support would be needed for a change to take effect, however, and a bill would have to be brought to the Governing Body by the bishops.
The Church in Wales leadership is concerned that it responds to gay couples seeking to marry with more sensitivity than it did in the past to divorcees wanting a second marriage in church. A background note about informal discussions on the issue states that Governing Body members are "keen that the Church should be able to respond to same sex couples with more pastoral sensitivity than might have been the case in the past when dealing with remarried divorcees. Some members were clearly uncomfortable with the concept of same sex marriage, but others appeared to be open to the possibility of blessing such unions."
If the Governing Body were to take a formal vote for the change in future, the Marriage Act of 2013 which introduced same sex marriage to England and Wales would then be amended to allow the Church in Wales to perform same-sex marriages. The Episcopal Church in Scotland voted recently to begin moving towards same-sex marriage. Some bishops in Ireland support it but there are no plans to introduce same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland at present so change there is unlikely. The Church of England leadership is adamantly opposed and no change is expected in the forseeable future. The US Episcopal Church authorised a change in its laws in July this year.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told the BBC that it is now up to the Bench of Bishops to decide how to take it forward. Then it will be for the governing body to pass a bill. He said: "It is quite a long convoluted complicated process."