A Worcester priest is calling for greater understanding in the church and in society, when it comes to gay marriage.

Writing in a recent parish magazine, the Reverend Canon David Rogers, associate priest for the parish of St Martin with St Peter, said he had questioned his own response in the past; but he had come to see that the church must act on society's behalf, and must not act as a "gate-keeper" at the altar, when it comes to marriage vows.

Canon Rogers said: "For a while I questioned whether gay marriage was the right thing. Was marriage a uniquely heterosexual institution, and was something different needed for gays? But what do you call the ‘something different’? The vocabulary doesn’t exist. civil partnership is good as far as it goes, but is chiefly a legal contract designed to protect assets and next-of-kin rights. It lacks the rich tradition of marriage - a covenant between two people akin to the covenant of God with humanity.

"And apart from anatomy, what distinguishes partners of different genders and same-sex partners? Gay couples experience the same challenges and rewards in marriage as straight couples. The care and nurture of children may be common to both. Eventually I realised that nothing except marriage is marriage, and nothing short of equality is equality."

He added: "Marrying people is one of the things the church does best. But we need to be more humble about it. We do not own marriage. We act on society’s behalf in serving those who come to be married. If we insist on acting as gate-keeper, fewer will come in."

The Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on 17th July 2013, and came into force on March 13, 2014.

The Church of England as a body does not officially support gay marriage in church.

Its official response to Government-led consultation process began: "The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.

"Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as

enshrined in human institutions throughout history.

"Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by

acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation."