Methodist Defrocks Pennsylvania Pastor For Officiating Son's Same-Sex Marriage
A pastor of the United Methodist Church, Frank Schaefer, has been defrocked for officiating his son's 2007 wedding to his male partner. Schaefer, of Pennsylvania, was already serving a 30-day suspension when, on Thursday, he was told to resign if he decided he couldn't follow the church's Book of Discipline, which rejects homosexuality. Officials had told him to use the month away to consider whether he could follow doctrine.
"I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a voice now for many — for tens of thousands — of LGBT members in our church," Schaefer said Monday.
As we reported:
The Reverend Schaefer, a Pennsylvania resident, officiated the 2006 marriage of his son, Tim, in Massachusetts. Although gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2003, it isn’t in Pennsylvania. And even though the United Methodist Church accepts gay members, it does not allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages ...
The Rev. Schaefer says he made his superiors aware of the decision to officiate the ceremony in Massachusetts. No opposition was voiced until an official complaint with the church was filed just 26 days before a statute of limitations would’ve run out. If Schaefer vowed to never again perform a gay marriage ceremony, he could bypass a trial. But he says he could not do that, because three of his four children are gay.
The church's Book of Discipline opposes the "practice" of homosexuality, even though the Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members.
"I am actively committing to having those discriminatory laws changed and banished from our Book of Discipline," Schaefer said. "That's the only way I can reconcile being a United Methodist at this point."
But three of Schaefer's four children are gay. Though refusing to perform a wedding for any more same-sex partners would have saved him the 30-day trial, Schaefer couldn't do that without recanting his support for his children.