Archive for Saturday, March 4, 2006

Minister cleared for performing gay weddings

March 4, 2006

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A longtime Presbyterian minister who was the first of her faith to be tried for officiating at the unions of gay couples was acquitted Friday of violating her denomination's position on same-sex marriage.

A regional judicial commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled 6-1 that the Rev. Jane Spahr, of San Rafael, acted within her rights as an ordained minister when she married two lesbian couples in 2004 and 2005.

Because the section of the faith's constitution that reserves marriage for a man and a woman "is a definition, not a directive," Spahr was "acting within her right of conscience in performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples," the tribunal said in a written ruling.

A tearful Spahr, 63, a longtime activist who could have faced sanctions ranging from a rebuke to removal from the ministry, rejoiced at the verdict. Flanked by her attorneys and the two couples she married, Spahr said she would continue performing same-sex weddings.

The marriages are not legally recognized.

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