Methodist Ministers Defy Ban on Marrying Gays

California clergy members ignoring church ban on officiating gay weddings
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2008 11:02 AM CDT
Janet McKeithen, a priest at a United Methodist Church, attends a street celebration of the California Supreme Court ruling that gay couples can marry.   (AP Photo/Hector Mata)
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(Newser) – Methodist ministers in California are revolting against religious edicts that forbid them from performing same-sex marriages, the Los Angeles Times reports, in a struggle that many consider "the civil rights cause of their generation." Dozens of Methodist pastors have officiated at gay and lesbian weddings since they were legalized in California, and 82 retired ministers signed a statement offering to stand in for ministers who don't want to put their careers at risk.

Although the church cautions that they could lose their jobs, clergy members say they are only living up to the Methodist slogan of "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." They have been encouraged by regional gatherings of lay leaders and clergy that have backed same-sex marriage, despite doctrinal opposition. "I can't be part of a church that is willing to portray a God that is so hateful. I would rather be forced out," says a Santa Monica reverend.