Marriage moves forward again
DENVER, Colo. — Two federal courts issued affirmative rulings on the rights of same-sex couples to wed on the same day in June.
In Denver, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on June 26 to overturn Utah’s state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage recognition. The opinion blasted opponents for their religious freedom arguments, saying the ruling “relates solely to civil marriage.” A stay was issued in the 10th Circuit ruling, but one clerk in Boulder began to issue marriage licenses regardless.
In Indiana, a federal district court overturned that state’s similar constitutional ban.
In Marion County, Ind., one clerk’s office wed as many as 186 same-sex couples following the ruling.
Several other lawsuits are currently working their way through district or appellate courts. In North Carolina, four lawsuits are pending as the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals considers a case challenging Virginia’s constitutional ban.
During the last week of June, LGBT community members marked the one-year anniversaries of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on California’s Proposition 8 and a case overturning portions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Defrocked pastor reinstated
PHILADELPHIA — A United Methodist minister defrocked after presiding over the marriage ceremony of his gay son has had his credentials reinstated by a church appeals panel.
The decision came on June 24, allowing Frank Schaefer to return to the pulpit. Shaefer had decided to perform his son’s marriage ceremony in 2007 and later became an outspoken activist for LGBT equality.
“I’ve devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me,” Schaefer told The Associated Press. The pastor said he will continue his advocacy work “with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church.”
The United Methodist Church’s governing rules do not allow pastors to perform weddings for same-sex couples.
Northern Moravians approve ordination
BETHLEHEM, Penn. — The Northern Province of the Moravian Church in North America has approved new rules to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. The new measure includes those clergy who are single, married or in a “covenanted relationship.”
The decision came with a 181-62 vote at the Northern Province’s synod. The new measures will update the Northern Province’s Book of Order and includes a call to create a rite for blessing same-sex relationships, though it stops short of endorsing full marriage equality.
The Northern Province is comprised of congregations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, California, Ontario and Alberta.
The Southern Province — with congregations in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida — is based in Winston-Salem, N.C. It has undertaken a study of issues surrounding LGBT inclusion, but has not taken the same steps as its northern neighbor. The Northern Province’s new measures have no affect on the operation of other provinces.