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Pure joy as Preston same-sex couple among first to say ‘I do’ in Methodist Church wedding

Written by on June 24, 2022

A couple from Preston who tied the knot in one of the country’s first same sex marriages in a Methodist Church say the gravity of what has happened still hasn’t sunk in.

Jason and Ben McMahon-Riley met as teens back in college. And after waiting patiently for 12 years, were finally told the words ‘I now pronounce you husband and husband’. The newlyweds, who have been together for 13 years, said they knew from early on that marriage would be their end goal.

While same sex marriages came into UK law in 2014, the church, including the Methodist Church, hadn’t accepted the union. For the couple, faith plays a big part in both of their lives and together, they were determined to wait to be wed, only until their church accepted their relationship.

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In June last year, the Methodist Church became the largest religious denomination in Britain to allow same-sex marriages. From then on, Ben and Jason’s lives were forever changed as their dream wedding became a reality and they finally tied the knot in at Fulwood Methodist Church in Preston last Friday (June 17); the day after their 13th anniversary.

A week after their big day, Ben and Jason say the whole day still hasn’t sunken in yet. Seeing over a hundred people turn up to witness their union in the church was a special moment for the couple.

“Our faith is so important to us both and the significance of the fact of myself and Jason being able to celebrate our love in church but also how many people had come to witness that and how many people were there to support us,” Ben said. “One of the most moving things was that everyone we spoke to or who came and talked to us, they said they felt that the day was just filled with love and happiness and that just meant so much to us. When we were getting to do our vows, the thought that crossed my mind was actually that 12 months ago we couldn’t have done this and that felt so significant. What really hit home was when we were pronounced husband and husband.”



After 12 years of waiting, the couple had their dream church wedding
After 12 years of waiting, the couple had their dream church wedding

“The day just went so quickly and it almost feels like a blur, I just remember being stood up at the front when we were saying out vows to each other and just thinking, oh wow, we’re actually doing this now, this is real and something that I’d imagined in my head for years and years was actually happening and coming true,” Jason added.

The pair find being able to call each other ‘husband’ instead of ‘partner’ is something they’re not used to and is made all the more important to them, having said their vows in their church.

Ben said: “For so long, from my own working background I’ve always referred to Jason as my partner but to refer to him as my husband, I’m still getting used to that and every time I say it, there is that little thrill of excitement to think I’ve got a husband and actually it’s recognised legally and from my faith that we have a loving relationship and it’s wonderful.”

From early on in their relationship the couple learned to accept that “God would want” them to marry in a church regardless of their sexuality and it became hard as adults to see that at a time, the church wouldn’t allow it. Having finally achieved their dream Jason says the day was so special and intimate, even the gravity of their union hasn’t sunk in.



Ben and Jason tied the knot in one of the country's first same sex marriages of the Methodist Church
Ben and Jason tied the knot in one of the country’s first same sex marriages of the Methodist Church

“The fact of us getting married in a church hasn’t sunk in at all yet actually and I think that will take sometime,” Jason said. “It was such a significant day for lots of reasons and it’s just beyond your mind’s comprehension. There were cameras there and people were taking lots of picture but all of that faded away and went into a blur, I didn’t see anybody else when we doing the vows, I don’t remember anyone else even being around.

“That was the heart of the day, the most special part of the day, to be able to say those vows for so long. It’s amazing to finally say that we are married and that we each have a husband because it has been such a long journey. Over the next few months it will start to really sink in.”

Reverend Paul Davis, chair of the Lancashire Methodist District, said: “I am delighted that Jason and Ben were finally able to celebrate their wedding together. It has been a long journey for the Methodist Church and for Ben and Jason who have waited for this day. My prayers and wishes are with them for their life together.”

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