SAN ANSELMO, Calif. — Days after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, the Presbyterian Church’s Northern California governing body refused to rebuke a retired minister for marrying gays and lesbians when it was legal in California.
The Presbytery of the Redwoods, which governs churches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, voted 74 to 18 Tuesday to reject the church’s official denunciation and instead support the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, who had been found guilty by an ecclesiastical court of violating the Presbyterian Constitution and her ordination vows for marrying 16 same-sex couples.
Church officials said they believe that never before in the history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a presbytery defied the wishes of its highest court in this fashion.
Opponents and supporters of gay and lesbian unions called the vote a historic event in the life of the church, which, like other mainstream Protestant denominations, has been struggling with the issue of sexual orientation for decades.
“The presbytery’s decision and the president’s decision are both part of the progress that we’re seeing in our culture,” said the Rev. Scott Clark, part of a team of lawyers representing Spahr. “More and more people actually know lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks, and they have to acknowledge our full dignity and our full value.”
Spahr, 69, was found guilty in 2010 for marrying couples after the California Supreme Court ruled that gays and lesbians could wed and before voters passed Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.
Nearly all of the couples Spahr
This article originally appeared on: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0516-minister-rebuke-20120516,0,1095731.story