A retired Presbyterian minister in Northern California is again facing charges she violated church law when she officiated at the weddings of gay couples. The Rev. Jane Spahr, 67, was acquitted two years ago of similar charges when the church's top court found that she did not violate denominational law because the ceremonies she performed were not real marriages. But this time, the same-sex marriages at issue were legal in California. The 16 weddings were performed in 2008 before voters banned the unions with the passage of Proposition 8.

Spahr's lawyer, Scott Clark, said it's unprecedented that the church is trying to sanction a minister for performing legal marriages.

The prosecution counters, however, that while the marriages may have been legal under state law, they were "expressly prohibited" by the church.

The case hinges on "a narrow issue of church law," said prosecutor JoAn Blackstone, who added that the local presbytery committee that investigated the Spahr case found it didn't have "any wiggle room" in deciding to press charges.

COMMENT: Oh, I see, the "No wriggle room" defence. If I remember rightly that's the one Pontius Pilate used in the "King of the Jews" case.


BOUND BY THE LAW — 5 Comments

  1. The case hinges on “a narrow issue of church law,” said prosecutor Joan Blackstone,

    Surely all the effort should be put into changing this church law rather than hounding this retired priest. After all they’ll need to change the church law eventually.

  2. But if the church thinks that gay marriage is impossible, then these marriages are simply null and void – just like Catholics consider Anglican orders null and void, whatever those funny Anglican “priests” and “bishops” think they’re doing.

    Of course, if that’s the church’s admission that gay marriage is possible….

  3. Janie has been a good friend for more than 20 years.

    They’re nailing her again! Why don’t they leave her alone? Surely they have something better to do this Holy Week than harrass Janie Spahr! This has been going on for decades. The pettiness of the church in this case is unbelievable.

    Speaking of Holy Week, we have a GLBT Holy Week series running at the Jesus in Love Blog this week — including art by the wonderful Counterlight (Doug Blanchard.)

    Click here to check it out at the Jesus in Love Blog

  4. Thanks Kitt.
    And I gave your Passion series a huge plug on the blog last week. Of course, if you had been paying attention…