The Reverend Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist minister, has been convicted … let that sink in for a minute … convicted of breaking church law by officiating at the same-sex wedding of his son. And he has thirty days to surrender his credentials if he cannot bring himself to adhere to the laws of the church’s Book of Discipline, or else be defrocked and drummed out of the church.
Well, Frank Schaefer ain’t playing.
After the verdict he said he had no intention of changing his mind about the church’s teaching on homosexuality, declaring he would perform more same-sex marriages again if asked, and declaring that he has been called by God to be an advocate for LGBT rights.
“I feel I have to be an advocate, an outspoken advocate for all lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.” — The Reverend Frank Schaefer
Schaefer wore a rainbow-colored scarf on the witness stand, telling it symbolized his commitment to the cause:
“I will never be silent again, this is what I have to do.”
It all began when Schaefer’s son, Tim, asked his father to perform the ceremony for him and partner. He knew he was putting his father in a difficult position by asking him to do this, but thought he’d hurt his father’s feelings if he didn’t at least try.
Reverend Schaeffer thought about it, thought about the repercussions, and then agreed to perform the ceremony, saying he did so out of love for his son, not out of any desire to flout the church’s “teachings” homosexuality.
And now he’ll continue.
“[The church] needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.”
After the jury pronounced its sentence, Schaefer’s supporters began overturning chairs in the courtroom — symbolizing the biblical story of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers — and held an impromptu communion service, though at least one person was not amused.
Jon Boger, who filed the initial complaint against Schaefer, was furious by the reverend's refusal refusal to bend to the church:
“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines. He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”
Actually, Jon, what he did was say that he performed a wedding ceremony out of love, and in doing so came to the realization that the church should stop hurting LGBT members. What Schaefer has done is take a leap forward, while the church stands firmly in the past.