200 Methodist Clergy Flout Church Ban on Gay Unions
Illinois group will risk jobs to perform same-sex ceremonies
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 27, 2011 8:18 AM CDT
In this file 2008 photo, a same-sex couple holds hands during their wedding ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Darryl Bush, File)

(Newser) – An Illinois coalition of some 200 Methodist clergy has agreed to bless same-sex unions in defiance of church policy. Clergy members risk their jobs by doing so, but they’re urging the worldwide Methodist Church to limit punishment to a 24-hour suspension, reports the Chicago Tribune. Civil unions were legalized this month in Illinois; the coalition’s effort also was prompted by the 20-day suspension of a Wisconsin pastor for presiding over a gay union.

“Unfortunately the church has lost its prophetic voice on this issue,” says the coalition’s organizer. “Our civil society has taken the lead. Now the church is trying to catch up." But another local clergyman called the campaign “hijinks.” “If someone has ethical opposition to that lifestyle, this has been equated with hatred," says the pastor. "We're having a hard time disagreeing with one another without calling each other names." (Click to read how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's political fortunes are rising after the passage of gay marriage there.)