Lesbian couple’s baptism fury after dispute with vicar

Aimi Leggett and her son Alfie Leggett (1). '''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132420-891)
Aimi Leggett and her son Alfie Leggett (1). '''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132420-891)
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A SAME-SEX couple are dismayed after a row with a retired clergyman means their one-year-old son may not be baptised.

Mums Aimi, 25, and Victoria Leggett 22, of Gosport, hoped to have their son Alfie baptised at St Mary’s Church, Warsash, in two weeks.

But the pair stormed out of a meeting with the Rev George Gebauer when he refused to allow the pair to both be listed as Alfie’s mums.

Mr Gebauer, who was due to officiate at the ceremony, said it is the church’s policy to list one mother.

He wanted one of the pair, in a civil partnership, to be put down as a godmother.

Aimi 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.

‘He did all this for about 10 or 15 minutes and was asking us why we want him brought into the church.

‘I’m baptised Church of England, Victoria’s Catholic – we want him to be brought up the same as we were.’

The pair now hope to have Alfie baptised at St Peter’s Church, in Titchfield but are upset as Aimi was baptised at St Mary’s and her parents married there.

The pair had organised the baptism with the Rev Andy Norris but he has left. Retired clergy have been officiating at the church while it has no vicar.

Victoria added: ‘It’s so hard not to be put off by it.

‘You get told yes you can do it and then it all changes and they completely disregard it.’

Mr Gebauer said he did not refuse the baptism and sexuality did not come into it.

And he said he would carry out the baptism if they agreed to record just one as a mother.

He said: ‘They insisted they both be registered as mum, they just won’t give way and that can’t happen.

‘Their [sexuality] has no bearing. It was never discussed.

‘The church baptism register makes no provision for it.

‘We can only make sure the child is [theirs], for all we know it they may have pinched the child.

‘We suggested time and again that the natural mum be registered as mum.’

He added: ‘Surely baptising the child is more important than being registered. They only think of themselves it seems.’

Leader says all children welcome for baptisms

DESPITE the dispute with the Rev Gebauer, the Archdeacon of the Meon has offered an olive branch to the Leggetts.

The Venerable Gavin Collins said all children are welcome to the church.

He said: ‘We would be thrilled to carry out this baptism and the date is still in the church’s diary. We would also be delighted to record both of the parents as “mother” if that is accurate.

‘The baptism register is a legal document, so it is important we get it right.

‘George was, quite rightly, checking whether the non-biological mother had legally adopted the boy and so could correctly be called his mother.

‘It’s exactly the same when someone remarries.

‘The new parent is a stepfather or stepmother unless they legally adopt their partner’s child from a previous marriage.

‘Another of our parish priests has been in touch with the couple since this happened and has offered to perform the baptism.

‘So we’re hopeful this can be resolved happily.’