We’ve already bestowed the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, a retired lesbian Presbyterian minister in San Francisco, with this website’s highest honor: the title of The Awesome. For she is facing “church court” prosecution for performing same-sex marriages back in 2008. You know, when they were legal. But now her trial is upon us, just three weeks after the law barring same-sex marriages was struck down because it is The Stupid.
The two million-member Presbyterian Church on Thursday will try Spahr on crimes of … oh hell, I have idea, since the church’s constitution “does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage,” notes the LAT, but “defines marriage as ‘a civil contract between a woman and a man.'” And back when she was tried the first time (yes), in 2006, she was charged not with officiating same-sex unions, but with officiating them too officially.
Spahr was tried in 2006 for officiating at the weddings of two lesbian couples in California. The Presbyterian church allows its ministers to bless same-sex unions, as long as the ceremonies do not mirror traditional marriages and are not represented as weddings. But Spahr says, “as a matter of my conscience,” that she “cannot be a part of … people being seen as second class or less than. I have seen the violence it has done.” So when she officiates, she says, the ceremony is a wedding and the result is a marriage. The 2006 case went to the Presbyterian church’s highest ecclesiastical court. Spahr, who retired in 2007, was acquitted on a technicality in April 2008.
So what happens if she’s found guilty of “illegally” marrying any of these 16 gay couples? She could be censured (wrist slap) or defrocked (serious sentence). And while I get that she must still love her church (ordained in 1974, Saphr is going to defend herself), who wants to be a part of an organization that will prosecute you for ensuring happy stable homes for decades to come?