Rev. Frank Schaefer Was Just Reinstated, Having Been Defrocked For Officiating Son's Same-Sex Wedding

In another victory for same-sex marriage, Rev. Frank Schaefer, the defrocked Methodist pastor who officiated his son's gay wedding, was reinstated by the United Methodist Church on Tuesday — and even compensated for his lost income. The Rev. Frank Schaefer, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, has four children. Three are gay. In 2007, Schaefer officiated his son Tim's wedding to his partner Bobby after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts.

In November 2013, Schaefer was suspended for the crime of officiating his own's son's wedding in violation of the church's strictures about gay marriage. The suspension lasted 30 days, and at the end Schaefer refused to agree not to perform a same-sex marriage again, The Los Angeles Times reports. He was summarily defrocked by the United Methodist Church of Pennsylvania.

Now Schaefer's been "refrocked," in a reversal by an appeals panel made up of both clergy and regular churchgoers. Schaefer told the LA Times that the decision was a hopeful sign for people who are hoping to promote more acceptance of gays in the church.

Something is underway there. And today’s decision will make it that much easier. ... The longer I waited for the decision, the more pessimistic I grew. But I won. It’s a message from the church that signals change.
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The decision means Schaefer can get back the money and benefits he's lost in December, when he lost his position. He's also considering joining the California-Pacific Annual Conference.

Schaefer explained why he decided to officiate the wedding and risk defrocking in the first place in a recent interview with the Times-Union of upstate New York.

When my son Tim came out to us in the year 2000, he shared how he had been hurt, brought to the brink of suicide, by the church's teaching that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. My wife and I embraced him and told him what the church had taught him was wrong.
We told him: God created you in God's image — gay and all. When he asked me to perform his marriage to another man I had to make a choice between the love for my son and the church. I told my son "yes" and I informed my bishop that I would perform his wedding.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Schaefer goes on to say that he could've made a careful statement at his hearing in November that may have avoided getting him defrocked. But he decided to stake a stand instead. Almost makes you want to apply to be one of Schaefer's kids, doesn't it? Is there a form around here somewhere that we can fill out?