UPDATED: 6:30 PM
Bravo Church of England!
General Synod - pensions for surviving civil partners
Read the complete story at Thinking Anglicans
UPDATE: from The Guardian
The Church of England may not allow its clergy to have their civil partnerships blessed in church but it voted tonight to allow the survivors of same-sex partnerships the same pension rights as other spouses.
The church's General Synod, meeting in London, voted in favour of what supporters of the move described as big-heartedness at odds with the church's public reputation for homophobia in its wrangles over gay clergy.
In doing so, members saw off a wrecking amendment by conservative evangelicals to extend equal pension rights to all clergy relatives who might have lived in their households for five years. A move by bishops that, instead of equal pensions rights, partners should be allowed to apply for hardship grants was also seen off.
Although the church does not allow services for same-sex clergy and requires them to give assurances to their bishops that their relationships are chaste, it had conceded the principle that civil partners should receive pension rights – but only from December 2005 when the civil partnerships legislation came into force. This means surviving partners in long-term relationships would lose out for many years to come.
It is not known how many clergy have entered civil partnerships, but the inequity was spelled out by Simon Baynes, a synod member from St Albans diocese. He told the meeting that the dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John – who was denied a bishopric by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, seven years ago after protests by evangelicals because he had been in a same-sex partnership for many years – would receive only £307 a year after his partner, also a clergyman, died, whereas if he had married a woman a few days before his death, she would receive an annual pension of £7,550.
Baynes said: "Employers who pay as little as they can get away with are the nastiest and the church should not be among them. The church would look very mean."