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Where Do Religions Stand on Marriage Equality

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Marriage Equality and Religion

The Pew Research Center has a great chart on where the major religions are these days on marriage equality.

Pew reports:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) plans to hold a historic vote on same-sex marriage this week that could reverberate beyond the church’s nearly 2 million members. Church leaders gathering in Detroit are expected to decide as early as today whether to allow gay marriage or to continue to prohibit it, a move some Christian leaders believe could influence other centrist and liberal mainline Protestant churches as they also grapple with the issue. In the last two decades, several religious groups have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. This includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Will the Presbyterians come around tomorrow?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA: Methodist Church Drops Case Against Minister

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Methodist Church LogoThe Methodist Church will not take a case to trial of a minister who officiated at his gay son’s wedding, and may drop the practice altogether. reports:

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, 80, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, said he’s grateful his church had decided not to put him on trial for what he called “an act of pastoral faithfulness and fatherly love.” “There’s no talk of guilt or wrongdoing or any penalty. It’s just the case goes away, which is a vindication for Tom,” Ogletree’s spokesperson Dorothy Benz told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. Bishop Martin McLee, who made the announcement at a news conference, called on church officials to stop prosecuting other pastors for marrying same-sex couples. McLee, who leads the church’s New York district, said he would cease trials over the issue in his area and would organize a broad discussion about divisions among Methodists over gay relationships.

Will the Methodists be the next major Church to embrace marriage equality?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

UK: Methodist Church Considers Embracing Marriage Equality

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Methodist Church LogoAs the Methodist Church in the US puts a pastor on trial for officiating at his own gay son’s wedding, the UK church is moving toward embracing gay marriage.

Pink News reports:

A full consultation of its more than 5,000 congregations across Britain are being asked to take part in the exercise which includes questions around changing the official teachings on same-sex marriage. Members of the church have been given up until February to express their views on the issue, before findings are put to the Methodist Conference, which makes decisions on behalf of the church. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales, which will come into effect in 2014, specifies that religious groups can opt-out if they do not wish to perform same-sex marriages.

If the church decides to sanction same sex weddings, they would join the Quakers and the Unitarians in the UK in doing so. Progress!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the United Kingdom.

USA: More Than 25K Sign Petition to Allow Methodist Ministers to Marry Gays

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Faithful America PetitionFollowing a nasty court trial in which a Pennsylvania pastor was convicted for officiating at the wedding of his gay son, a group of Methodist pastors is turning in a petition to change church policy.

Gay Star News reports:

Progressive US Christian group Faithful America will present a petition on Thursday of over 24,000 signatures backing United Methodist clergy who want to be able to marry same-sex couples without fear of being disciplined by the church hierarchy or losing their jobs… Faithful America plan to present the petition, which went well over its 15,000 signature target, along with supportive United Methodist pastors to local Bishop Peggy Johnson. The petition reads, ‘Bishop Peggy Johnson, please join with the growing number of United Methodists who are obeying Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and disregarding the church’s immoral anti-gay rules.’

I used to go to the methodist church, and found the churchgoers to be, generally, open-minded and fair. It’s time for church leadership to re-evaluate its stance and do the right thing. You can sign the petition here.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Pennsylvania: Pastor Whose Crime Is Officiating at His Son’s Wedding is Suspended

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Methodist church in Pennsylvania has just suspended a loving Pastor whose only crime was to officiate at the wedding of his gay son.

Pastor Frank SchaeferOn Top Magazine reports:

A jury of 13 fellow pastors on Monday convicted Schaefer of breaking church law and suspended him for 30 days Tuesday. An unrepentant Schaefer, who has three gay children, told the jury before being sentenced that the church “needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treated them as second-class Christians.”…

It wasn’t until 26 days before the church’s statute of limitations would have expired that a complaint was filed against Schaefer by one of his congregrants that the church took action against him. Jon Boger, the congregant who filed the complaint against Schaefer, said on the witness stand that Schaefer “should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”

If I were him, I would do it again, and again, and again until the Church sees what a stupid thing it is to try to ban love. And what about the 30 other ministers who officiated at a same sex wedding last month in support of Pastor Schafer?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.

USA, Alabama: Retired Methodist Minister to Marry Same-Sex Couple

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Alabama mapA retired Methodist minister from San Francisco plans to marry a same-sex couple in Alabama in defiance of church law.

The Center for Investigative Reporting reports:

San Francisco’s former United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert gave a sermon at the denomination’s global conference last year, urging pastors to defy church law by performing gay wedding ceremonies. On Saturday, Talbert plans to answer that call himself, marrying parishioners Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw in Birmingham, Ala. Church leaders predict Talbert’s action will aggravate a growing conflict between conservative and liberal factions of the United Methodist Church – one of the last mainline Protestant denominations that bans gay marriage. With roots in the civil rights movement and a past stint as president of the National Council of Churches, Talbert appears destined to become the most prominent of the clergy members headed for formal church trials for their defiance – a process that begins with a complaint from a church member.

Maybe these acts of civil disobedience will finally bring about an end to the discriminatory policies of the Methodist Church, historically one of the more open churches in the country.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

USA, Pennsylvania: 30 Methodist Pastors to Buck Church, Marry Gay Couple Next Month

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Pennsylvania mapIn what may be an unprecedented act, thirty Eastern Pennsylvania pastors are joining together to support a colleague on trial for officiating at a same sex wedding by doing one of their own. reports:

The colleague is the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who faces a Nov. 18 church trial in Chester County for officiating at the 2007 marriage between his son and another man. Schaefer’s fellow pastors call that an act of love, not a prosecutable offense. They gathered Thursday at a Philadelphia church and, after more than two hours, agreed to preside as a group at a same-sex marriage, a step they hope jolts the larger church. “Out of respect and out of honor of his commitment to his family, he’s done this,” said the Rev. Robin Hynicka of Philadelphia’s Arch Street United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held. “Talk about family values, right. Let’s give it its due.”

Now the neighboring New Jersey has fully embraced marriage equality, can Pennsylvania be far behind?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Pennsylvania.

USA, Alabama: Retired Methodist Bishop Plans to Marry Same-Sex Couple

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert

Photo courtesy

Retired United Methodist Church Bishop from Tennessee is planning to marry a gay couple in Alabama, against the wishes of the presiding Bishop.

Edge Boston reports:

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, who has been active in efforts to eliminate barriers to gay marriage from United Methodist doctrine, said it will be an honor to officiate at the ceremony later this month in metro Birmingham for Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince. Talbert said he was contacted by the longtime partners after they learned they could not be married in the area church where they are active members. While Alabama does not recognize same-sex marriage, the men were married legally in Washington, D.C., last month, Openshaw said. He and Prince want to have a church ceremony at home in Alabama for their family and friends.

The marriage equality movement is reaching even into the deep South. It’s gratifying to see it.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

Churches in New Zealand, USA Consider Marrying Same-Sex Couples

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Gay Wedding RingsSeveral churches are considering allowing their priests to marry same-sex couples.In New Zealand, the Anglican Church may allow the practice by 2016, according to one Reverend.

Gay Star News reports:

St Matthew’s in the City’s the Reverend Clay Nelson says he expects a majority of Anglicans in New Zealand will support same-sex couples being allowed to marry in their churches by 2016. He made the comments to after a motion at a meeting of the Anglican Synod backing same-sex marriage was barely defeated. ‘I do believe it will eventually pass, I hope no later than 2016,’ Rev. Nelson said.

In the US, a United Methodist Tribunal is considering the same issue.

Gay Star News reports:

The United Methodist Judicial Council will decide late October if its clergy and local church regions can hold different opinions on the issues of homosexuality and marriage and will also decide the fate of four priests who have been charged with marrying same-sex couples. A 1972 rule in the United Methodist Church’s internal law book states, ‘The UMC does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,’ and bars its clergy from officiating same-sex marriages but many United Methodist churches have been doing so anyway.

What started with small groups of supportive clergy is now making its way into the mainstream of these church organizations. And that’s a good thing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Methodist Church Split Over Marriage Equality

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Methodist Church LogoThe Methodist Church is undergoing a round of soul-searching over the issue of marriage equality. The New York Times reports:

For Dr. Ogletree, the issues are not just academic. He has fully accepted, he said, that two of his five children are gay. His daughter married her partner in Massachusetts, in a non-Methodist ceremony. So when his son asked him last year to officiate at the wedding, he said yes. “I was inspired,” Dr. Ogletree said. “I actually wasn’t thinking of this as an act of civil disobedience or church disobedience. I was thinking of it as a response to my son.”

The wedding of Thomas Rimbey Ogletree and Nicholas W. Haddad, held on Oct. 20, 2012, at the Yale Club in New York, incorporated readings from Scripture and the Massachusetts court decision legalizing same-sex marriages. A wedding announcement in The New York Times prompted several conservative Methodist ministers to file a complaint against Dr. Ogletree with the local bishop.

“This ceremony is a chargeable offense” under the rules of the church, wrote the ministers, led by the Rev. Randall C. Paige, pastor of Christ Church in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

The last time the Church discussed officially changing its views on homosexuality, last summer, it failed by a 61-39% vote. Still, marriage equality supporters soldier on:

In the New York area, 208 Methodist ministers have said they are willing to perform same-sex weddings. The Rev. Vicki Flippin, associate pastor at the Church of the Village in Manhattan, said she had performed two such ceremonies in recent years, and the Rev. Scott Summerville, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Yonkers, said he had officiated at two.

I belonged to a methodist church growing up, and personally never heard a word uttered against gays and lesbians at my church. In fact, they even sponsored a sex-ed course for teens that included a book that spoke positively about being gay. I think the Methodist Church, as a whole, will come around eventually.