Pemberton back in court

Priest denied license after gay marriage seeks redress from the Court of Appeal in London

Lawyers for the Rev. Jeremy Pemberton (pictured) appeared before London’s Court of Appeals today, seeking an order overturning a 2016 employment tribunal ruling there had been no “homophobic” harassment when the gay activist had been refused a license by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

In 2014 Pemberton entered into a same-sex marriage, which though valid under civil law, is forbidden to clergy in the Church of England. After his marriage he sought employment as a hospital chaplain a state hospital in the diocese. However, the Rt. Rev. Richard Inwood refused to give him a license, preventing him from taking up his post.

Pemberton brought suit alleging discrimination before an employment tribunal, but his pleas were rejected by the courts.

Pemberton’s attorney argued before Lady Justice Gloster, Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice Asplin the Church of England’s views on same-sex marriage were muddled. It permitted clergy in same-sex civil partnerships to hold licenses to officiate, but refused to grant married same-sex clergy that right. Civil partnerships were “effectively indistinguishable” from same-sex marriage, the attorney argued.

While the Church of England permits its clergy to enter into same-sex civil partnerships, the House of Bishops asks that an undertaking be given that these relationships be non-sexual or chaste — a point of contention from liberals who see this as an improper standard and from conservatives who claim that the rule is seldom enforced.

In its pleading lawyers for the diocese said Pemberton was not given a license in Southwell  and Nottingham has he had “publicly flouted the doctrines of the Church on marriage, whereas his duty as a priest was to exemplify them”.

The hearing continues.


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