Rev. Frank Schaefer was, under Methodist church law, sentenced to a thirty day suspension on Tuesday as the result of Monday's hearing which determined he broke his vows by officiating his son's marriage to another man. If, during those thirty days, Rev. Schaefer violates any church laws or breaks another vow, he will lose his credentials. More importantly, the church is calling on Rev. Schaefer to surrender his credentials if he decides he can't uphold all of the church's Book of Discipline.
Before the punishment ruling, Schaefer, who was convicted for officiating at his son's 2007 wedding ceremony in Massachusetts, told the jury Tuesday that he is unrepentant and refused to promise he wouldn't perform more gay unions.
Rather than beg for mercy Tuesday in the trial that has rekindled debate within the nation's largest mainline Protestant denomination over church policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the pastor upped the stakes, telling jurors that he has been called by God to be an advocate for the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.
The church "needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation,'' he said. "We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.''
Schaefer donned a rainbow-colored stole on the witness stand and told jurors it symbolized his commitment to the cause.
"I will never be silent again,'' he said, as some of his supporters wept in the gallery. "This is what I have to do.''
> NBC Philadelphia's Coverage of the Story
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