THE first gay wedding in a UK church has taken place in Bournemouth.

Although there have been many same-sex marriage ceremonies since the law first allowed them on March 29, the town’s Metropolitan Community Church says it is the first religious building to host one.

Jan Tipper and Barb Burden, long-standing members of the church in Hannington Road, Pokesdown, were married by priest and pastor the Rev Dwayne Morgan.

He said: “We have been offering wedding services for same-sex couples for many years in our church because we believe that God blesses the love of two people no matter what their gender. But to finally have the government fully recognise their love by giving them complete legal status as a married couple is a blessing for everyone.” He added: “We are grateful to all those who have struggled for the rights of gay people for so many years that has led us to this historic day.”

Ms Burden said: “We were surprised when Mr Morgan told us we’d be the first in a church. As it’s been approved since March 29, we assumed there had already been others who had taken advantage.”

Ms Tipper said: “We’re lucky that we found MCC 15 years ago. It’s been an important part of our lives and our relationship. To get married in our church was very significant to us. “Even though we’ve been together for almost 19 years it didn’t feel right for us to have just a blessing or even a civil partnership.” The Metropolitan Community Church was established in Bourne-mouth in 1979 and is associated with the Universal Fellowship of Metro-politan Community Churches which has churches in over 40 countries. Mr Morgan said: “We have been blessing gay couples for over three decades since our beginnings in the 1970s so we’re glad the government has finally caught up with us.”