04/04/2012 06:43 BST | Updated 31/01/2013 16:56 GMT

Gay Marriage: Soldier James Wharton Hits Out At 'Disgusting' Critics

A soldier who fought in the Iraq war and escorted the Queen to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding has spoken out against critics of plans to introduce gay marriage.

Lance Corporal James Wharton said the attacks on the coalition's proposals from the Church were "ridiculous" and were failing to help tackle bullying in schools and other institutions.

His experience has highlighted the case of people who are asked to fight for their country but are denied the equal rights to marry.

Wharton, a member of the Household Cavalry, gave a joint interview with his civil partner Thom McCaffrey to Attitude magazine, and said the Army had "always done a really good job of supporting" the couple.

The ban on gay people serving in the British armed forces was lifted by the Labour government in 2000. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition wants to build on the civil partnership law so gay couples can marry.

"It’s actually ridiculous that in this day and age we’re still having to have a debate about equal rights," he told Attitude in an interview published on Wednesday.

"And it just goes to show that it’s the same old people still kicking up a fuss. The Church. In particular, the Catholic Church."

"Cardinal O’Brien’s newspaper column calling gay marriage 'grotesque' and the letters that have been read out in church are disgusting," he added.

"I just think about what this is doing to young gay people. If I was young and vulnerable, I would find it all very upsetting.’

He added: "If someone’s being bullied for being gay in school at the moment, it’s probably just got worse because of all this stuff in the media. But I think it’s worth it. I think we have to go through it. That bullying will never go away until we’re seen as equal."

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The magazine is celebrating its 18th year this month and also spoke to fighterfighter Stuart Brown who is in a civil partnership and said gay marriage was part of bringing "true equality" to couples.

He said most of his heterosexual colleagues were happy to see it happen.

"People are quite open and relaxed about what's going on. If that's what gay people want, let's have it. Its not an issue" he said.

"For us there is no religious side to it, really" he said. "Religion doesn't own marriage, does it? It was around before religion, so I don't see why now they think it's ... their property."

The government's plan to introduce same-sex marriage has been heavily criticised by some religious leaders and several backbench Conservative MPs.

On Tuesday David Cameron told a gathering of religious leaders in Downing Street that he hoped they would not "fall out" over gay marriage even though there would be “some strong arguments and some strong words".

The Daily Telegraph said he attempted to emphasise that he wanted to “change what happens in a registry office, not what happens in a church”.

Despite opposition from some quarters the change looks set to become law as it has support from the leadership all three main political parties.