Minister Faces Church Court For Performing Same-Sex Marriages
Retired Presbyterian minister Jane Spahr may face a church court trial for officiating same-sex marriages. Even though the marriages were legal at the time. This is the second time Spahr is facing church sanctions.
Spahr, who lives with her son and 6-year-old granddaughter in San Francisco, freely acknowledges the church's allegations that she married a lesbian couple in June, 2008, and 15 other same-sex couples that year. “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.” But there is a new twist to the case. The 16 marriages that allegedly violate Presbyterian church law were conducted during the five-month period in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California. Spahr's defender in the case, Scott Clark, said the church is “trying to sanction a minister for performing legal marriages. This is unprecedented.” JoAn Blackstone, who is the prosecutor, said the distinction is immaterial. The marriages may well have been legal under state law, she said, but were “expressly prohibited” by the same ruling that acquitted Spahr in 2008. Blackstone said the case hinges on “a narrow issue of church law” and is unrelated to the public debate over same-sex marriage.Interestingly, it appears that the church's "prosecutor" in the case is also a longtime gay rights advocate, something she says is irrelevant to the issue.