PORTADOWN-born gay cleric Tom Gordon was placed under additional pressure at the weekend when the Church of Ireland Synod voted on a huge majority that marriage must exclusively be between a man and a woman.
The Very Rev Gordon, Dean of Leighlin Cathedral in County Carlow and a former member of St Mark’s in Portadown, last year caused a deep schism in the all-Ireland church when he underwent a civil partnership with distinguished musician Mark Duley.
The delegates at the Synod in All Saints Church in Dublin - where Mr Duley was once the organist - voted 243-87 that “the Church of Ireland upholds its teaching that marriage is part of God’s creation and a holy mystery in which one man and one woman become one flesh”.
It was proposed by the Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and seconded by the Bishop of Down and Dromore Harold Miller - the Down and Dromore diocese includes the Seagoe Parish in Portadown.
The proposal also affirmed that marriage must be life-long “to the exlcusion of all others and for the procreation of children and that faithfulness within marriage is the only context for sexual intercourse”.
The delegates at Synod included several ministers and lay people from the local Rural Deanery of Kilmore, which takes in most of Portadown and the surrounding country parishes.
They voted 100 per cent for the motion, and the speakers included the Rev Malcolm Kingston, Rector of Kilmore and St Saviour’s (Dobbin) who supported the motion.
The vast majority of delegates from the local Diocese of Armagh - which stretches from Magherafelt to Drogheda - also voted in support.
Dean Gordon’s Bishop (of Cashel and Ossory) Michael Burrows supported the Gordon-Duley partnership, but he has refused to comment all along.
Dean Gordon, meanwhile, has been on leave during the Synod. Phone calls to his deanery were met with a recorded message from him to say that his parish work was being carried out by a neighbouring parish until he returns later in May.
Meanwhile, both sides in the dispute are doing their best to prevent the church from splitting, especially in view of the fact that the Gordon-Duley partnership has been ongoing for 20 years since they met during their religious work at RTE.
They decided on the civil partnership after the Republic passed laws in January last year permitting same-sex ceremonies, with their ‘marriage’ in County Mayo a year ago.
Bishop Burrows and many of Dean Gordon’s parishioners - plus friends from Portadown - were there, and he claims almost total support from Leighlin where attitudes are much more liberal than in Northern Ireland.