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Bishop of Buckingham: Gay clergy live in ‘a culture of fear’ over same-sex relationships

Joseph McCormick April 10, 2015
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The Bishop of Buckingham Dr Alan Wilson has said gay clergy live in “a culture of fear and intimidation” and that there is a “real injustice” about not allowing them to marry.

The Bishop spoke on Premier’s ‘News Hour’ today, after posing a question about the marriages of gay clergy to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in a PinkNews readers’ Q&A, the answers of which were published earlier today. 

He said: “I think the whole idea of this ban is legally extremely flimsy.”

“It says the clergy may marry, according to their discretion, as they believe may best serve Godliness. Now if you think it’s more Godly to shack up with your partner than marry them, I suppose there’s an argument to be had there, and some people may feel that way.

“I think most would say that a stable relationship that’s committed and faithful and mirrors the love of Jesus for the Church is much Godlier than a temporary arrangement.”

Continuing, he said: “Now we live in a society in which it is possible for people to enter into marriage if they’re gay, it seems perfectly sensible they should do so.

“What is going on is some real injustice that’s making life very tough right now for many gay clergy – a culture of fear and intimidation, sort of black balling, white washing, all the old nonsense we used to have and hypocrisy with don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In the PinkNews Q&A, the Bishop asked Mr Clegg about the “quadruple lock” which was added to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which explicitely bans Church of England clergy from marrying same-sex couples. and provides legal protections for if they are asked.

He asked: “The legislation around equal marriage contained important protections for the consciences of clergy opposed to marrying gay people. However, it contained no protection for the consciences of clergy who want to perform same-sex weddings – or indeed gay clergy who want to marry themselves.

“These clergy have routinely been subject to harassment and victimisation – and this even led in one instance to an Archbishop blocking someone from a promotion within the NHS. Many other licensed clergy are now in fear of their position in public service jobs in which they had felt safe. What plans do our politicians have to remedy this manifest injustice?”

The Deputy Prime Minister responded: “I have huge admiration for the many, many people in the Church who see no contradiction between their deeply held Christian beliefs and the principle that everyone should be able to marry the person they love. It’s amazing how quickly equal marriage has been accepted by much of the country – so much of the opposition simply fizzled out once people saw the happiness of individual couples on their wedding day.

“Of course there are still examples of some pretty ugly discrimination. As a liberal, I want to see intolerance challenged wherever it is found: and discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of someone’s sexual orientation is, quite rightly, illegal.

“The Church will have its own internal debates about equal marriage – and while it’s not my place to tell the Church what they can or cannot do, my hope is that tolerance will eventually win the day.”

More: Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, civil partnership, civil union, dr alan wilson, equal marriage, Gay, gay clergy, gay weddings, lesbian, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Nick Clegg, same sex weddings, Union, wedding

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