Pennsylvania Pastor Fired By Congregation For Officiating Gay Wedding

pa-pastor-firedA pastor from State College, Pennsylvania claims he was fired from his church after he performed a same-sex wedding last month.

Montgomery County’s Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing same-sex marriage licenses — in defiance of the state’s ban on gay marriage — this summer because he wanted to come down on the “right side of history and the law.” Hanes was then sued by the State Department of Health, which claimed he was potentially “causing serious and limitless harm,” prohibiting him from issuing any more licenses. One of the 174 couples who got theirs during that brief, albeit wonderful, six-week window were Gregory Scalzo and Joseph Davies (pictured).

Davies bought a ring for Scalzo one month after meeting him in 2003. “I knew,” Davis told the Centre Daily Times on his wedding day back in August. “I just said to him, someday. And that day is today.” The two were married in the home of State College’s Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.

Goreham was friends with the pastor for a local Church of the Brethen parish, the Reverend Ken Kline Smeltzer. “He loves to perform weddings and he thought about it and he said yes,” Goreham recalled.

On the day of the wedding, Smeltzer came prepared with a typed statement explaining that he performed the ceremony because he supports marriage equality and the men “are very much in love and obviously committed to each other.”

His congregation, however, didn’t share the same sentiment and Smeltzer confirmed Monday that he had been sacked. Smeltzer told the CDT that “a few things have to play out” before he can discuss the situation. “It’s true,” he said, “but I can’t give out any more information.”

Goreham says Smeltzer didn’t regret officiating the wedding and that he is “very supportive” of marriage equality: “He’s sorry that the church and he were not able to work it out, but he stands by his act and would do it again.”

Meanwhile on September 12, a Pennsylvania court barred Hanes from issuing any more same-sex marriage licenses, though undeterred, Hanes plans on filing an appeal so the battle for Pennsylvania’s same-sex couples is far from over.