Chaplain From U.K. Loses Appeal For Same-Sex Marriage Discrimination Case

Jeremy Pemberton, a Church of England hospital chaplain, has lost his claim that he had been discriminated against when his license to continue working was revoked following his marriage to his same-sex partner. The case became one which had gay rights campaigners hopeful that the church would change its stance on gay marriage and rights.

Pemberton was appealing and earlier ruling which supported the church’s right to continue to enforce its stance on the issue, that gay clergy are forbidden from marrying partners. Jennifer Eady, who was the tribunal judge for the employment appeal, noted that the state was not able to “impose same-sex marriage on the church,” as the Guardian relays.

Following Wednesday’s decision, Pemberton stated that his case, which was brought against bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Richard Inwood, had highlighted “novel and complex issues of law,” and he is now considering taking it to the court of appeal.

The publication shares the chaplain’s words.

“The result is, obviously, not the one my husband and I had hoped for. I appreciate that this case was a source of hope for many people and I am grateful that the judge has recognised its significance and indicated that its importance warrants permission to appeal to the court of appeal. I am now going to take some time to consider the lengthy judgment with my husband, and we will decide on the best way forward, having taken advice from my lawyers.”

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of the bishop of Southwell and Nottingham,reminded that the church is not against welcoming gay members to the clergy, and is engaged in exploring the questions that are related to the sexuality of human beings.

“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds and we remain fully engaged in the church’s exploration of questions relating to human sexuality. The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. It has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships, as set out in the house of bishops’ guidelines in 2006.”

Pemberton was the first member who entered into a same-sex marriage in defiance of the church ban on same-sex weddings for clergy. Pemberton and his partner Laurence Cunnington married in April of 2014.

The case which is under the Equality Act of 2010, has been one seen as significant and as a test of equality legislation about the doctrine.

Pemberton had his permission to officiate revoked after his wedding, which prevented him from taking a job at King;s Mill Hospital in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

In November of 2015, Inwood argued that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman and the ruling by the tribunal indicated that there was “no doubt whatsoever that the present doctrine of the church is clear.”

The Guardian relays the words stated by the tribunal.

“…the claimant would never have been in this position had he not defied the doctrine of the church. The claimant knowingly entered into that marriage and knew what the potential consequences could be for him…In getting married to his partner, he was flying in the face of the clear restating of doctrine in relation to same-sex marriage.”

Following losing his license to officiate, Jeremy Pemberton has been able to find work as a civil celebrant- conducting weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies. The former chaplain’s appeal was heard at the employment appeals tribunal this past September. The judge handed down the ruling on Wednesday. As stated, Pemberton intends to take his case to the court of appeals.

[Features Image by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]

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