The Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree, United Methodist clergy, former seminary dean, Social Ethics professor, and father.
This week, the New York Times published an article about United Methodist pastor, former seminary dean, Social Ethics professor, and father, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ogletree. Last year, Rev. Ogletree performed the wedding of his son to another man, a chargeable offense in the United Methodist Church. A complaint has been filed against him, which may lead to a church trial. Another clergy colleague and I were also named in the article as United Methodist ministers who have performed same-sex weddings. This is my response.
In 2008 I committed my first act of discrimination in the name of God. A young lesbian couple—members of my church who called me their pastor, parishioners who had welcomed me into their home and hospital rooms for prayer, full participants in the ministry of our community—made an appointment with me. With smiles on their faces, they told me that they had just gotten engaged and wanted me to perform their wedding in their beloved home church. These women were not trying to do anything radical. They were blissfully ignorant of the heated and hurtful battles within the church about whether they were sacred or sinful, family or abomination, beloved or beyond the reach of God’s love. They just wanted to commit to each other before God and church.
I said no. I did what my church asked me to do. I did not agree with it, but I was afraid of losing my job and my church and the work I felt called to do. So I blessed their cake standing next to a justice of the peace in a hotel ballroom, choosing to stand in judgment before my God instead of before my church.