Pa. Pastor Fired After Officiating Gay Wedding
The Rev. Kevin Kline Smeltzer was fired from a Pennsylvania Church of the Brethren parish after officiating a same-sex wedding in State College, the minister confirmed to the Centre Daily Times Monday. Smetzer declined to identify the specific church where he was formerly employed, but did confirm that the congregation asked him to leave over his difference in belief.
On August 19, Smeltzer married Joseph Davis and Gregory Scalzo at the home of State College mayor Elizabeth Goreham. During the ceremony, Smeltzer offered a statement in support of marriage equality and the couple, because the men "are very much in love and obviously committed to each other," according to the Times.
Although a 1996 Pennsylvania law prohibits the state from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages, Scalzo and Davis received a marriage license from Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes, who began issuing licenses to same-sex couples as an act of conscience in defiance of the law in July. A state judge ordered Hanes to stop issuing licenses earlier this month, but Scalzo and Davis were one of the more than 170 couples who were licensed before the judge's order.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's so-called Defense of Marriage Act in July, contending that it violates the U.S. Constitution based on this summer's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a key section of the federal DOMA as unconstitutional. Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane said she won't defend the state law in court, believing it to be "wholly unconstitutional." The state's Republican governor, however, has filed a brief in defense of the antigay law, claiming that same-sex marriage are legally meaningless, like hypothetical marriages between 12-year-olds.