Gay priest sacked by Church for marrying told to wait for tribunal verdict

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A Church of England clergyman who was sacked after he married his partner, has been told to wait until next year for the verdict of his tribunal.

Jeremy Pemberton, 58, who was blocked from promotion after he married his husband last April, and says he was unlawfully discriminated against.

Canon Pemberton, formerly a hospital chaplain, was the first member of the clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington last April.

His marriage defied a decision by the House of Bishops, which has banned gay clergy from marrying, and he later had his permission to officiate revoked. This meant he was also unable to take up another job at the NHS, as he was declined the correct licences.

The tribunal was held at the Nottingham Justice Centre, and began earlier this year.

Final submissions from both the Church and Pemberton were heard on Tuesday.

Representing Pemberton was Sean Jones, who said the Church would have taken no issue if the clergyman had entered into a civil partnership.

He said: “They are saying it’s not the substance, it’s the label. [The definition of marriage as one man and one woman] was not drawn up to prohibit same-sex marriage.”

Accusing Pembeton of entering his marriage in a “blaze of publicity”, Thomas Linden QC, defended the Church, saying: “The state should not be saying to a religious organisation: ‘You can or can’t choose this person as your priest’. The tribunal should say it’s clear on the evidence what the church thinks of same-sex marriage.”

Testifying at the tribunal earlier this year, Bishop Richard Inwood, described Pemberton’s marriage as “sinful and unwholesome”.

The outcome of the tribunal is not expected until 2016.