- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A panel of clergy members voted Tuesday evening to suspend a  Pennsylvania Methodist pastor for 30 days after he went against church doctrine and performed a same-sex marriage ceremony for his gay son.

The clergy, serving as jurors in the case, also told the Rev. Frank Schaefer — who performed the ceremony in 2007 — he could choose: Abide by the rules of the church or leave the ministry, The Washington Post reported. The reverend, meanwhile, decided on continuing his mission of marrying same-sex couples, saying during testimony on Tuesday that he refused to “go back to being a silent supporter” for gays.

The panel’s vote sparked immediate protest from the dozens of advocates for the gay community who attended the Pennsylvania hearing. They folded up the chairs they were sitting on and threw them to the floor, then started singing hymns and taking Communion, The Post said.

“This is an effort to push out people who are in ministry with gay and lesbian people. It’s very sad,” said the Rev. Dean Snyder, The Post reported. He traveled from Washington, D.C., to attend the hearing. Meanwhile, other activists for the gay community who weren’t able to attend the hearing took to Twitter to express their outrage at the ruling.

One on the social media site called it a “de facto defrocking,” The Post said. But others saw the ruling as a second chance for the pastor, who ignited a firestorm across the nation. Even Mr. Schaefer suggested the sentence was light, given the panel could have removed him entirely from his church role.

He also said that he would consider performing more gay marriage ceremonies during his 30-day suspension, saying that the case gives the church “a great opportunity to engage in more discussion,” The Post reported.

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