News (USA)

Retired minister facing church trial for performing same-sex unions

Retired minister facing church trial for performing same-sex unions
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

A retired Presbyterian minister faces prosecution by her own church — for the second time in four years — for officiating the marriages of same-sex couples.

The Rev. Jane Spahr, 67, presided over 16 other same-sex unions during the five-month period in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California.

The Presbyterian church asserts that while the marriages may have been legal under state law, they were “expressly prohibited” by the church.

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) defines marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. The church’s Supreme Judicial Council has ruled that ministers can bless same-sex unions as long as the ceremonies are not called a marriage and don’t mimic traditional weddings.

Spahr was previously acquitted by the church’s highest tribunal in 2008, capping a two-year disciplinary case.

“This is what we are called to do,” Spahr said, asserting, as she did before, that she conducted the marriages as a “matter of conscience.”

Spahr, a lesbian who lives in San Francisco, used to lead a ministry for gay Presbyterians until she retired in 2007.

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