Methodists drop charges against retired Yale dean who performed same-sex wedding

McLee

Bishop Martin D. McLee

Bishop Martin D. McLee dropped all charges Monday against the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a Methodist minister, for performing his son’s wedding last fall. McLee is a bishop of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“I call for and commit to a cessation of church trials for conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-gender wedding ceremonies and instead offer a process of theological, spiritual and ecclesiastical conversation,” McLee said.

Ogletree, 79, is the retired dean of Yale Divinity School and remains professor Emeritus of Theological Ethics at Yale.

According to the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Anyone within the church may file a complaint and a bishop may elevate the complaint to charges that may result in a minister being defrocked.

Earlier this month, the Rev. Bill McElvaney performed a wedding ceremony in Dallas for a couple that has been together for 53 years. McElvaney is 85 and retired. No complaints have been filed against him yet, but the statute of limitations doesn’t run out for seven years. Several dozen Methodist ministers from around the state attended.

The case is similar to that of the Rev. Frank Schaefer who performed a wedding ceremony for his son. In that case, Schaefer was tried and defrocked in December. He spoke at Cathedral of Hope recently and will return in May to speak at Northaven United Methodist Church.

Schaefer is appealing his defrocking.

“I’m very happy about the church’s decision to drop Rev. Ogletree’s case,” Schaefer wrote on Facebook. “I am also happy to see bishop Martin McLee take a huge step forward to cease all LGBT-related trials. I am not sure if this will have a positive or negative effect on my appeal. I’m hoping for a positive one!”

—  David Taffet

Another Methodist pastor to be tried for officiating son’s gay wedding

UMCThe United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son, The Associated Press reported.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz, announced Friday. It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships. In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized.

“It is a shame that the church is choosing to prosecute me for this act of love, which is entirely in keeping with my ordination vows to ‘seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people’ and with Methodism’s historic commitment to inclusive ministry embodied in its slogan ‘open hearts, open minds, open doors,’” Ogletree said in a statement.

Bishop Martin McLee, who leads the New York Annual Conference, could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.

The Rev. Randall Paige of Christ Church UMC in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., led the group of clergy who had filed the complaint against Ogletree, according to United Methodist News Service. An administrator at Christ Church said Paige was off Friday and could not immediately be reached for comment. Theologically conservative Methodists have said they file formal complaints reluctantly, hoping to find another resolution for their disagreements, but feel clergy must be held accountable when they violate church policy.

Like other mainline Protestant groups, Methodists have been debating for decades over whether the Bible condemns or condones same-gender relationships. However, other mainline groups, such as the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have in recent years taken key steps toward accepting same-sex couples. The top Methodist policy-making body, General Conference, has repeatedly rejected changing church law on homosexuality, including in their most recent vote at a 2012 meeting.

In the last few years, as gay marriage has gained legal recognition by U.S. states, Methodists advocating for gays and lesbians have intensified their protests, hosting gay weddings in Methodist churches or officiating the ceremonies elsewhere.

Two other similar cases are pending within the Methodist church. The Rev. Stephen Heiss of the Upper New York Annual Conference is expected to face a church trial for presiding at same-sex marriages, including officiating at his daughter’s 2002 wedding. The Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, of the New York Annual Conference, is facing a formal complaint that she is a “self-avowed practicing” lesbian, or lives openly with a same-sex partner, which is barred by church law.

Ogletree’s trial will be held at First United Methodist Church in Stamford, Conn.

The United Methodist Church is the second-largest Protestant group in the U.S. and claims 12.5 million members worldwide.

—  Steve Ramos

Former President George H.W. Bush, wife attend same-sex wedding in Maine

ghwbweddingFormer president and first lady George H.W. And Barbara Bush attended the same-sex wedding of friends in Kennebunkport, Maine, last weekend.

The president signed Helen Thorgalsen and Bonnie Clement’s marriage license as a witness.

In an odd statement about the event, Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman said, “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”

Why so defensive? Nobody accused them of crashing the wedding.

Or is it Bush’s way of saying this isn’t new Republican policy? He’s not endorsing marriage equality but in this case it’s OK because the women were friends of his.

—  David Taffet

Zeus, Eagle team for Northstar wedding parties

OK, gay comic fans, the wedding of the year is just a week away, and you need to get ready for it.

One week from today, on June 20, Marvel Comics will release the issue featuring the same-sex wedding of gay superdude Northstar, a first for a major comic imprint. And gay-owned Zeus Comics on Lemmon and the webiste MutantaDay.com are celebrating in style. First, you can come by the Dallas Eagle tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. for a send-off bachelor party for Northstar. You’re encouraged to wear your favorite Marvel character costume (hey, if there’s anywhere you won’t look out of place in a costume midweek, it’s the Eagle) and the bar will be serving comic-themed cocktails. There will be contests and giveaways, too.

Then, after Northstar (real name: Jean-Paul Beaubier, so he must be uncut) and his fiance Kyle Jinadu tie the knot next Wednesday, you can come by Zeus to pick up a copy or just to attend the wedding reception, which will pack its own surprises. Beyond that, our lips are sealed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Marvel’s Northstar is marrying his boyfriend

Anyone who has been reading Marvel Comics for the better part of two decades, knows that mutant superhero Northstar bats for our team. But the big news this morning is that not only is he gay, he’s also off the market — or soon will be.

Marvel announced on The View what Richard Neal at Zues Comics on Lemmon has known for a while: That in issue no. 50 of Astonishing X-Men, out tomorrow, Northstar finally pops the question to longtime boyfriend Kyle. That makes Northstar the first major gay comic book hero to marry his same-sex partner.

Maybe if you don’t follow comics, that’s no big deal. But if you do, it’s huge.

“It makes me so happy to unite my community and my passion like this,” says Neal, who is gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones