Penny Mordaunt has become the first cabinet minister to call on the Church of England to allow gay marriages. The church is currently considering whether the ban should be lifted.
Next month, bishops will make a recommendation to the Church’s legislative body on whether to overturn the ban.
According to The Telegraph:
Ms Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons and MP for Portsmouth North, has written to the Bishop of Portsmouth, calling on him to to “recognize the pain and trauma” that failure to recognise same-sex marriage causes to “many LGBT+ people who are left feeling that they are treated as second class citizens within our society”.
Currently, according to canon law, no Church of England minister can bless or marry gay couples.
Ms Mordaunt’s interjection marks the first time that a serving cabinet secretary has called for the issue to be reformed within the Church of England.
She also warned that if bishops failed to approve same-sex marriage, the issue would only “fester and detract” from any positive contribution from the institution.
Her comments also come as next month, bishops will present their long-awaited findings to the General Synod – the Church’s legislative body – on whether the ban on gay marriage could be overturned.
Traditionalists are hoping that bishops will veto any changes to the existing stance – that church weddings should be for only opposite-sex couples and that sex among gay couples amounts to a sin.
In contrast, more liberal members of the Church are calling for it to modernise and welcome gay members.
In a letter sent to the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, on Sunday, Ms Mordaunt said that she was writing “regarding discussions on how the Church will move forward on the issue of same-sex relationships. I hope they will back reform”.
The letter said: “I want all of my constituents and others to be able to have the right to have their relationships solemnised in their local parish in England. […]
“It is some time now since Parliament legislated for Civil Partnerships and then same-sex marriage. Since then, both the Episcopal Church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland have agreed to offer same-sex marriage and the Church in Eales plans to do so soon.”
She added: “The issue has been under discussion within the Church of England for a long time. Whilst not a reason in itself, I fear that if it is not resolved at next month’s General Synod the matter will continue to fester and detract from the positive contribution the Church of England makes to our society.”
The Bishop of Portsmouth has not publicly commented in response.