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Anglican Priest Defies Church, Marries Partner

Anglican Priest Defies Church, Marries Partner


A Church of England clergy member takes advantage of England's new marriage equality law, in defiance of his denomination's opposition to same-sex unions.

An Anglican priest married his partner last week, defying his church's ban on same-sex marriages for clergy members and prompting some Church of England officials to warn of a looming "crisis," reports London's Independent.

Rev. Jeremy Pemberton married Laurence Cunnington, ignoring directives from the Church of England that also prohibit Anglican clergy from blessing same-sex unions.

When same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales earlier this year, Archbishop Justin Welby, speaking on behalf of the Church of England's House of Bishops, released a statement saying, "We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged."

Pemberton, however, told The Mail on Sunday that he simply loved his partner and wanted to marry.

"I love this man and I want to be married to him. That's what I want. It is the same as anyone who wants to get married," he said.

According to the Independent, the couple received public support from several pro-LGBT groups and some clergy members as well. Drew Mac, vicar of Sedbergh, wrote on Twitter, "Congratulations and best wishes -- and may God bless you too!"

But Rev. Rod Thomas, a conservative member of the General Synod, told The Telegraph that without consequences for Pemberton, the Church of England could face a "crisis."

"If there is not clear discipline then it is the equivalent to saying 'we really didn't mean what we said.' It will precipitate a crisis," he said.

Welby recently sparked controversy by suggesting that marriage equality victories in the West were endangering Christians in Africa.

In response, retired U.S. Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop elected in the worldwide Anglican Communion, wrote in the The Daily Beast that such a posturing "lets the murderers win."

Follow Michael O'Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

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