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Minister Rev Tom Gordon civil partnership 'welcomed'

image captionThe Very Reverend Tom Gordon is Dean of Leighlin Cathedral in County Carlow. Photograph courtesy of Liam Murphy.

A senior Church of Ireland minister has said his same-sex civil partnership, the first for an Anglican clergyman in Ireland, has been "warmly welcomed" by his congregation in County Carlow.

The Very Reverend Tom Gordon is originally from Portadown and is now Dean of Leighlin Cathedral.

He told the BBC that he and his partner of 20 years held the ceremony in a registry office in July.

He described it as a legal instrument and not equivalent to marriage.

The Anglican church in England, where several ministers have entered civil partnerships, requires those within them to remain celibate.

However, the Church of Ireland has not taken a formal stance on the issue.

Dean Gordon, who was installed as dean of the Cathedral of St Laseria in the diocese of Cashel and Ossory last year, said his two-decade long relationship was widely known about within the church in Ireland.

He added that the bishop of his diocese, Bishop Michael Burrows, had long known about his relationship and was also made aware of the civil ceremony before it took place.

Dean Gordon said that he saw a civil partnership as a "normative milestone" in his relationship when the law permitting it was enacted.

He added: "There are a number of issues that come about - taxation for example, just very normal practical things."

The worldwide Anglican church is divided on the issue of same-sex relationships and marriage but Dean Gordon, a former lecturer at the Church of Ireland college in Dublin, said his experience within his own diocese had been supportive.

"I have not had anything here. Quite the opposite - I have had very warm support right across the board," he said.

Dean Gordon, who also works as a psychotherapist, added that he had been clear about his view of civil partnerships.

"I regard it exactly as it is - a legally recognised partnership. The area of marriage brings us into another area of dialogue."

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