Monday, December 27, 2004

Minister from Germantown to appeal defrocking over sexual orientation

For all those who did not follow it, Beth Stroud, a minister from Germantown's First United Methodist Church, was recently removed from her post as an ordained minister, after openly declaring that she was gay, and in a committed relationship. In a case that brought national attention, Stroud was convicted of violating the Church's 'book of discipline" which explicitly forbids Gays and Lesbians from being ordained. Stroud lost the case by a count of 12-1, but only 7 of the 13 jurors voted to actually remove her from the post. Now, she has decided to appeal. From the Inquirer:

The denomination's Book of Discipline prohibits the ordination and appointment of practicing gays and lesbians.

Stroud, 34, precipitated the trial when she gave a sermon in April 2003 at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, where she was associate pastor, announcing that she was living in a "covenant relationship" with another woman.

Central to Stroud's appeal is a set of defense arguments holding that the ban on gay clergy violates the spirit of the denomination's constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that a celibacy requirement is inconsistent with Methodist theology.

Stroud's trial judge, retired Washington Bishop Joseph Yeakel, had disallowed those arguments and limited the jury's focus to the specific charge brought against her from the Book of Discipline.

Stroud said her counsel would argue that the celibacy rule is unfair "because it imposes a different burden on gays and lesbians in a committed relationships than it does on heterosexuals." She also will challenge Yeakel's requirement that prospective jurors who could not uphold the Book of Discipline "for reasons of conscience" had to step aside. "That exclusion made it more difficult for me to have a fair process," she said.

I do not know the Methodist Church Law, but it always seems a little odd when people take the position that they don't discriminate against gays and lesbians, as long as they aint having sex. That said, in the end, the Church should be able to do whatever they see fit. Just as the Methodists should not be able to tell others what relationships they can and cannot be in, nor can outsiders tell the Methodists what they must use as their qualifications for clergy.

The conventional wisdom says that gay marriage was a big reason why Kerry lost. But, lets think back to 1950's America for a second. Who doubts that if there had been ballot initiatives, interracial marriage bans would not have been passed all over the place? (And, of course, many states did have bans on it, all the way into the 1990s for one in particular. And many, many black men were lynched because of it.) The difference is that there was no Karl Rove ensuring the issue was put as a ballot initiative back then. But, just as the generation of the 1960's and 70's started to care less and less about interracial marriage, so does ours with gay marriage. It is something that I think young people all over, including many conservatives, would hold as a "live and let live" issue.

The bottom line is that the Government should forget about deciding who gets to marry whom. They should let all have the benefits of "marriage," like the right to pass down your stuff, spousal health insurance, etc. And then individual Churches should be able to do whatever the hell they want. People can then decide what denomination they want to be a part of, and if they feel it is of that importance, can leave or join a Church depending on who the Church will or will not marry.


At 5:29 PM, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

No- I was not that G-Town minister who was defrocked over being gay! I was defrocked for my lack of proper sanitation, and the fact that I'm not really a minister.


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