Church Of England Faces Legal Challenge After Blocking Job Offer To Married Gay Priest
The Reverend Jeremy Pemberton, the first UK priest to marry his same-sex partner, is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after the church blocked a job offer, reports The Guardian.
Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed Sherwood Forest Hospitals trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
Anglican clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but the House of Bishops has banned same-sex marriage, at least until a two-year discussion process within the church has been completed.
However, the legal process for disciplining clergy who ignore the ban is untested. Pemberton has said that if he did not challenge the church’s position, “it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be. It is tragic and disappointing that bishops think they can get away with this. I have not been through any disciplinary process.
Pemberton currently works in the diocese of Lincoln which is in the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that he will leave individual cases to the bishops involved. However, Pemberton lives in Southwell in the province of York and the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has been a vociferous opponent of gay marriage.
In a statement, Inwood said he made his decision regarding Pemberton’s job offer after consultation with Sentamu.
According to The Independent, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has threatened to out Anglican bishops he believes to be in same-sex relationships of they discipline gay clergy for marrying their partners.
In April, Welby said that he'd been warned while on his visit to South Sudan that the Church of England accepting gay marriage could lead to some communities believing having Christians among them could make them gay and reacting by murdering the Christians.