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Lesbian baptism dispute is resolved

06 September 2013

jamie lorriman/solent news & photo agency

Register question: St Mary's, Warsash, near Southampton, in Hampshire

Register question: St Mary's, Warsash, near Southampton, in Hampshire

A LESBIAN couple have been told that they can have their child baptised at their chosen church, after an archdeacon stepped in to resolve a dispute over the details that should appear in the baptism register.

The dispute arose when a retired priest, the Revd George Gebauer, who ministers at St Mary's, Warsash, near Southampton, where there is an interregnum, told the couple that the register could show only a mother and a father as the child's parents. The couple, Aimi Leggett, who is 25, and her civil partner Victoria Leggett, 22, are the parents of Alfie, aged one.

Mr Gebauer had suggested that Aimi Leggett should be listed as the mother, as she is the child's biological mother, and that Victoria Leggett should be listed as a godparent.

Speaking to the Portsmouth newspaper The News, Aimi Leggett said: "There was no way one of us was going to say yes and be the godparent. He sat there and told us no child could have parents of the same sex; no child could have two mothers."

The couple, from Gosport, wanted Alfie baptised at St Mary's because it is the church where Aimi Leggett's parents were married and where she was baptised. After the difficulty arose, they made plans to have him baptised at another church.

But now the ceremony will take place as originally planned at St Mary's, with a different priest officiating, after the Archdeacon of the Meon, the Ven. Gavin Collins, stepped in to clarify the legal position. "Victoria has full legal co-parental responsibility for Alfie," he said. "We can therefore enter their details on to the baptism register as 'mother' and 'mother', as they would like.

"I'm pleased that this issue has been resolved, and we look forward to welcoming Aimi, Victoria, Alfie and their friends and family. . . It will be a great occasion as we welcome him into the Christian family."

The Parochial Registers and Records Measure, 1978 sets out the legal requirements of what should be included in a baptism register. It includes the mother and father's Christian name, surname, and occupation.

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