Six years ago, Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex wedding, and he is now being forced to stand trial before the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church for his support, reports Penn Live.
Schaefer, who is a pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, told the Lebanon Daily News the decision to officiate his son’s wedding in 2007 “was a tough decision in some sense,” but he felt he had to follow his heart” on the matter, noting, “The love for my son took over the fear of losing my job.”
However, Schaefer’s act of compassion for his son could mean the end of his ministerial career because his actions go against the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, which forbids same-sex marriage.
Though Schaefer officiated his son’s wedding several years ago, he is only now being brought to trial because one of his congregants filed a complaint against him, 26 days before the church’s statute of limitations on a breach of discipline would have expired.
The United Methodist law prohibis clergy from officiating “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions,” and if a jury of Schaefer’s peers finds that he did not conform to church teachings, he could lose his ordination credentials.
However, the impending trial hasn’t caused Schaefer’s support of marriage equality to waiver. “To me this is a human rights issue,” he told Penn Live. “If being of a certain sexual orientation is who you are as a person, if that is genetic, who are we to say that these persons do not have the same rights as everybody else?”
Schaefer’s trial is scheduled for November 18.