Labour MP Madeleine Moon has put forward in writing a question to the Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the MoD, Penny Mordaunt, asking for clarification on the state of same-sex marriages within the military.
Mordaunt, herself a Royal Navy reservist, issued a statement saying;
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.
The “sending churches” that Mordaunt is referring to are the churches that provide the chaplain. Chaplains are themselves military officers who have been ordained in their recognised religion before serving in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines of Royal Air Force. They command the authority of their rank but do not bear arms instead providing religious and often morale services.
At present the chaplains of the British armed forces feature representatives from the following faiths;
- The Church of England
- The Church of Scotland
- The Roman Catholic church
- The Methodistchurch
- The Presbyterian church
- The Baptist church
- The United Reformed and Congregational churches
- There are also chaplains of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faiths
Mordaunt is therefore effectively putting the blame on these faiths for the lack of same-sex weddings in military chapels. At present military chapels or places of worship are shared with other denominations and can only host gay marriages if every denomination sharing the building agrees, something which is highly unlikely.