Church of England supports gay clergy amid discrimination suit

ReutersMembers of the clergy enter York Minster before a service to consecrate Reverend Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England, in York, northern England, in this Jan. 26, 2015 file photo

After facing a discrimination lawsuit from the first priest to marry his same-sex partner, the Church of England has expressed its support for clergy who are in a relationship with those coming from the same gender.

But a spokesperson of the Church of England clarified that the religious institution is only extending its support to those who have tied the knot with their same-sex partners in civil marriages, and not religious marriages.

"The church has no truck with homophobia and even supports clergy who are in civil partnerships... (But) the Church of England's doctrine on marriage is clear," the unnamed spokesperson was quoted in the Guardian.

"The church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the church," he explained.

The church official reiterated that members of their "clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree."

The statement was released after Canon Jeremy Pemberton sued the Church of England for revoking his permission to officiate (PTO) as a priest shortly after marrying his long-time partner Laurence Cunnington in April 2014.

Citing United Kingdom's 2010 Equality Act, Pemberton accused the Church of England of denying his right to work because he is gay and he is married.

Pemberton, who previously received an offer to serve as chaplain at Lincoln County Hospital, was refused a license to officiate in the diocese by Bishop Richard Inwood shortly after his marriage, the Lincolnshire Echo reported.

"PTOs are (only) revoked if someone has done something serious. (If) they're criminally involved... involved in an affair or have lost their capacity," Pemberton was quoted as saying in the Lincolnshire Echo.

In 2013, same-sex marriages were legalised in England, prompting the House of Bishops to come out with a Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, the Daily Caller reported.

The religious injunction, which bars homosexual priests from marrying members of the same sex, also threatened disciplinary ramifications on bishops who contravened.

"The church is currently involved in a process of shared conversation about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation," the church spokesperson noted.

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