Military chapels ‘must permit’ same-sex weddings
Chapels on military bases may be required to allow same-sex marriages, the government has signalled.
The news came in an answer to a question from Labour MP Madeline Moon, who asked the government to clarify , how many military chapels in England in Wales “are registered to conduct (a) same-sex and (b) other marriages”
A reply from Defence minister Penny Mordaunt revealed that although all 190 military chapels are available for heterosexual marriages, none of the churches authorised to operate out of military chapels currently permit same-sex marriage.
This means that same-sex military couples are unable to have a religious ceremony, and have no option but to marry in a registry office or elsewhere.
Ms Mordaunt explained: “There are 190 military chapels in England and Wales registered for marriages under the rites of Church of England or otherwise, as described under sections 69 and 70 of the 1949 Marriage Act.
“The Ministry of Defence allows same-sex marriages in military chapels, but none of the Sending Churches using the chapels currently allows same-sex marriages to be conducted there.
“I have asked the Chaplaincies of the three Services to advise me on how Parliament’s sanction of same sex-marriages may be fully implemented.”
Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: “Military chapels are for the benefit of all military personnel, so it is discriminatory, as well as disingenuous to veto their use for same-sex marriages.
“The churches repay the privilege of being provided with chapels for their services paid for by the state by denying their use to those wishing to be lawfully married.
“Shamelessly blocking the use of military chapels to gay serving personal who want to marry also illustrates that the centuries-old persecution of homosexuals by the institutional churches is being actively perpetuated today by their leaders, despite support for same-sex marriage by the majority of those that identify as Christians.
“The only possible justification for such a veto, were if clergy who do not wish to solemnise same sex marriages were forced to do so, but the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act specifically exempts them from doing so against their will.”