96-Year-Old Pastor Has Credentials Revoked After Officiating Gay Son’s Wedding

An all-too-familiar, all-too-unfortunate story:

Chester Wenger has dedicated 65 years of his life to the Mennonite Church USA, serving as a pastor, missionary, and church leader based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania since 1949. That all came to an end recently, however, when he officiated the marriage of his gay son, who, it should be noted, was excommunicated from the church 35 years ago for being gay. More from Think Progress:

Chester Wenger and his wife Sara Jane | Photo from The Mennonite

Chester Wenger and his wife Sara Jane | Photo from The Mennonite

Wenger “grieved deeply” about the church’s decision to expel his child, but when same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania in May, his son asked him to officiate his wedding to his partner of 27 years. The retired pastor “happily agreed,” openly defying the established rules of his tradition in order to perform the union on June 21.

After he reported the marriage to the Lancaster Mennonite Conference credentialing committee, however, church authorities convened on September 10 and formally retired Wenger’s ministerial credentials. They argued his actions violated established church guidelines, which read “Pastors holding credentials in a conference of Mennonite Church USA may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony.”

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Ruling Expected Today in Challenge to Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

[UPDATE: 2: 41 p.m.] The ban has been overturned. 

[Original]

Plugged-in local lawyer Adam Bonin — who has worked this election season for Daylin Leach and helped Brian Sims kick Babette Josephs off the ballot — tweeted last night that a ruling is expected today on a challenge in federal courts to Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

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Support for Gay Marriage On the Rise in Pennsylvania

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Despite yesterday’s bummer (albeit expected) news that a South Philly gay couple was denied a marriage license at City Hall, there’s still reason to be hopeful. I just came across this refreshing article on CBS Philly, in which an analyst — named Madonna, thank you — reports that support for marriage equality continues to be on the rise in our state:

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Gay Couple Denied Marriage License at City Hall

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They'll be among a group of couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine's Day.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years.

On Thursday I reported that a group of same-sex couples were going to protest Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban by strolling into City Hall to request a marriage license. The whole thing happened this morning, and this is what NBC 10 reports happened to one of those couples, Bob and Bill Sullivan of South Philadelphia:

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Philly Same-Sex Couples to Request Marriage Licenses at City Hall on Valentine’s Day [UPDATE]

UPDATE [2/15/2014, 2:05 p.m.): Just got this email update from Bill Sullivan: “We rescheduled the event for Tue., Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. We’re going to room 413 for the license at 11 a.m.”

UPDATE [2/13/2014, 9:02 p.m.): This event has been cancelled due to weather. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates on when it will be rescheduled.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They'll be among a group of couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine's Day.

Bob and Bill Sullivan (L-R) have been together for 20 years. They’ll be among a group of same-sex couples to request marriage licenses at City Hall on Valentine’s Day.

Tomorrow — on Valentine’s Day, if you’re not keeping track — a group of same-sex couples will convene at City Hall to request marriage licenses.

One of those couples, Bill Sullivan, and his partner of 20 years, Bob, made history when they became the very first same-sex couple to marry in Vermont in 2009. They lived there for a few years as husband and husband before returning to Philadelphia, where they both grew up. “We were never political people,” he says. “But when we moved back to Pennsylvania our marriage became nullified. That’s when we decided to get active.”

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MONDAY KICKSTARTER: College Football Star Michael Sam Comes Out, Could Be NFL’s First Out Player

I trolled the web for LGBT headlines all weekend so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s what I came up with:

PROGRESS REPORT

College football star Michael Sam comes out of the closet. If drafted, he could be NFL’s first out player 

Attorney General Eric Holder extends same-sex marriages “full and equal recognition to the greatest extent possible under the law” (video above)

North Carolina school crowns transgender homecoming king

City of West Hollywood incorporates rainbow into its new flag, because, hello, it’s West Hollywood

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Wilmington Photographer Launches Indiegogo Campaign for ‘First Comes Love’ Project

Philly couple Harvey Hurdle and Kevin Yoder pose for a photo with their son. Photo by: Barbara Proud

Philly couple Harvey Hurdle and Kevin Yoder pose for a photo with their son. Photo by: Barbara Proud

When Barbara Proud celebrated her 20th anniversary with her partner Allison in 2008, it occurred to her that what she’d accomplished was … well, a pretty big freaking deal.

“At that point, that really put us as the longest-surviving relationship in both our families — particularly in hers, where they’re on their third or fourth tries,” says Proud, a photographer based out of Wilmington, Del., and instructor at University of the Arts. “We’re the go-to couple: We take care of the babies, we take care of the dogs, we’re the executors — we’re everything to everyone. I was proud of us.”

Around this same time, Proud’s photography business was losing steam as a result of the economic downturn. But, determined to not be totally defeated, she decided to make gold out of a stinker of a situation. Drawing inspiration from her anniversary (and the Propostion 8 overturn), she started reaching out to other long-lasting couples in her Philadelphia network to pose for photos, which eventually expanded to inquiries to and from LGBT couples all across the country. The product: The First Comes Love Project, a compilation endeavor that has hosted photographs of  LGBT couples of high- and low-profile. (See: Her photograph of Prop. 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.) Read more »

‘Pennsyltucky’ Pastor Suspended for Officiating Gay Son’s Wedding

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

For weeks, we’ve been keeping you in the loop about Frank Schaefer’s ongoing conflict with Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township (Pennsyltucky territory), where he’s a pastor. Schaefer deviated from his church’s status-quo stance on marriage equality by officiating the wedding of his gay son in Massachusetts way back in 2007. On Monday, Schaefer was warned that if he didn’t reevaluate his position of solidarity with the LGBT community, he’d be stripped of his credentials. This, in anticipation of the volatile (and somewhat poetic, as you’ll see below) jury hearing among his peers that unfolded yesterday, Nov. 19.

The verdict: The Associated Press reports that Pastor Frank Schaeffer has been suspended for 30 days, and has within that timeframe to retract his stance on the issue. Read more »

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