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Methodist bishop performs gay wedding in Ala. despite church opposition

Saturday, October 26, 2013
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A retired United Methodist bishop performed a wedding for two gay men Saturday in Alabama despite opposition from other church leaders.

Joe Openshaw (right) and Bobby Prince

Joe Openshaw (right) and Bobby Prince

The ceremony took place at the Covenant Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation. Bishop Melvin G. Talbert of Nashville, Tenn., performed the wedding even though the local bishop and other leaders said it violated church law.

Joe Openshaw said he and longtime partner Bobby Prince asked Talbert to marry them when they were refused permission to marry in their United Methodist church.

“Everything went just as planned. There were no disruptions, no drama,” said Joe Openshaw. “Bobby and I now feel our relationship is complete.”

Talbert and other Methodist supporters of same-sex rights have been encouraging their denomination to recognize gay marriages for years. Alabama does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The men wed legally in Washington, D.C., last month. Prince said he and his partner wanted a religious ceremony as well.

“It seemed like it was incomplete without our families and friends being there in the church,” Prince said.

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