A Pennsylvania Methodist minister who was defrocked after officiating his gay son’s wedding won an appeal overturning the original decision.
Frank Schaefer was originally suspended for 30 days in 2013 after the United Methodist Church discovered he presided over his son’s wedding nearly seven years ago, The Associated Press reports. After admitting he’d be willing to officiate other gay marriages, the church defrocked him.
He argued that he shouldn’t be punished for something he hasn’t actually done and the nine-person appeals panel, consisting of both clergy and lay members, agreed.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the defrocking was “unlawful” since it goes against the “well-established principle that our clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future.”
While the appeals panel did uphold the original 30-day suspension, they ruled that since the defrocking should not have happened, Schaefer will retroactively receive his benefits and salary dating from after the when the suspension would have been lifted.