The United Methodist minister convicted of breaking church law by performing his son’s same-sex marriage has been suspended for 30 days, but he says he’ll continue to be an advocate for LGBT people even if it means losing his credentials permanently.
Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., who was convicted by a church court Monday, was sentenced Tuesday to the 30-day suspension of his duties, the Associated Press reports. But the jury “also told him he must surrender his credentials if he can’t reconcile his new calling to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community with the laws from the church’s Book of Discipline,” according to the AP. The United Methodist Church does not allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages, and it considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Schaefer, though, was defiant. He refused to promise that he would not officiate any more same-sex weddings, and he told jurors the church “needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.”
“I will never be silent again,” added the minister, who wore a rainbow-colored stole in court as an emblem of solidarity with LGBT people. “This is what I have to do.” After his sentence was announced, his supporters in the courtroom began overturning chairs in protest.
Schaefer had officiated his son Tim’s wedding to a man in Massachusetts in 2007. He faced no discipline until a member of his congregation complained to the church hierarchy last spring, shortly before the statute of limitations on the case ran out. Three of Schaefer’s four children are gay.
The minister reiterated his position to reporters outside the courtroom. Watch below.