Frank Schaefer - a pastor for The United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania - was defrocked yesterday for the sin of officiating his gay son's wedding.
Shocked that he could receive such a penalty for an "act of love," Schaefer said he thinks members of the regional Board of Ordained Ministry voted against him reluctantly.
"So many of them came to me and they shook my hand and some hugged me, and so many of them had tears in their eyes," Schaefer told a Fox affiliate. "They said, 'We really don't want to do this, you know that, don't you?'"
Schaefer has led a congregation in the central Pennsylvania town for over a decade.
John Coleman, a spokesman for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the denomination, said the pastor gave officials no choice after defying the order of a religious jury to resign.
"When asked to surrender his credentials as required by the verdict, he refused to do so," Coleman explained. "Therefore, because of his decision, the board was compelled by the jury's decision to deem his credentials surrendered."
Overall, the Methodist church does accept gay/lesbian members… but it believes the practice of homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and bans members of the cloth from performing same-sex unions.
After being given a 30-day suspension for his actions, Schaefer told officials yesterday morning that he would not resign. Hence, the defrocking.
"I said to myself, 'You know, I just can't see them taking my credentials.' I mean, what I did was an act of love for my son. And they did anyhow," Schaefer said.
This incident went down on the same day that New Mexico legalized same-sex marriage, joining 16 other states and the District of Columbia in doing so.