Minister faces ban for marrying lesbian couples

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An American minister could face expulsion after accusations that she led marriage ceremonies for two lesbian couples in California.

The Rev Jane Spahr of San Rafael will be tried by the judicial body of the Presbyterian Church, punishment could include anything from a rebuke to a 30 year ban from the ministry.

Ms Spahr, who is also a lesbian activist, insists she was honouring her personal conscience and relationship with God when she officiated at the ceremonies. She told the Associated Press: “Faith communities have enormous responsibility to fight oppressive systems, certainly the founder of the Christian faith was someone who challenged all oppressive systems that kept people from being whole.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is currently one of many Protestant denominations locked in debates over the position of gays in the church, currently rulings allow same-sex unions as long as they do not mean marriage.

Her lawyer said she is one of a half-dozen Presbyterian ministers across the nation facing disciplinary action for marrying same-sex couples, although her case is the first to come to trial,

Robert Conover, stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Redwoods, said other ministers had complained about the Reverend Spahr.

The church bans actively gay or lesbian members to serve as ministers, although Ms Spahr didn’t come out until four years after she was ordained so she kept her position.