ISBL: "Convicted" Of Performing A Same-sex Marriage
ISBL: Update Central: Frank Schaefer
I been following Frank Schaefer’s case for a long time; he’s the Methodist minister who was disciplined after he officiated at the 2007 same-sex wedding of his son and his partner. Schaefer said he did so because, when his son first came out to him as gay, Schaefer realized that church doctrine had made his son believe he could not go to heaven.
"He did not want to live any more. He was in so much pain. I did what I did based on my heart and my conscience."
And, the wedding was held, not at Schaefer’s Pennsylvania church but at a private restaurant in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage had been legal since 2004. And his officiating at the ceremony did not become public knowledge until 2013, after a member of his congregation learned of the wedding and filed a complaint.
He was initially suspended for thirty days once the story got out, but after the bigwigs at Church Central heard the story, they gathered together around their Cauldron of Christian Love and decided it best to defrock the pastor for going against church doctrine.
Schaefer left his church for a more inclusive ministry in California and began working as a gay rights activist, galvanizing other Methodists who support full LGBT inclusion in the church. But he also worked to have the ruling overturned, and last week the Judicial Council ruled that a Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Schaefer.
The council ruled on technical grounds, finding that Schaefer was subjected to two distinct punishments for the same violation. First, he was given a 30-day suspension, and then came the defrocking after he said he could not promise to uphold the church's Book of Discipline "in its entirety."
It was that second punishment that the council decided was wrongfully imposed for a possible future violation. The church, though, offered no support or comment on same-sex marriage in general. Still, its decision is final.
Now, I know some will see this as a way to mangle an argument about ministers being forced to perform a same-sex wedding or risk being defrocked, but that isn’t this case. Schaefer wanted to perform the wedding for his son, and he did not, not at the church but at a private location. He was not acting as a minster of the church, but simply as a minister.
The church can still take their backwards stance on same-0sex marriage, but should allow misters, who choose to perform legal same-sex weddings, the right to do so off church property.
It’s what Jesus would do, you know.