Embattled same-sex marriage activist, pastor visits Madison

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Posted: Sunday, October 26, 2014 --- 9:07 p.m.

A California pastor visited Madison today to speak out in favor of same-sex marriage rights.

Rev. Frank Schaefer was suspended and later defrocked from the United Methodist Church for officiating his son's same sex marriage in 2007. Although an appeals panel reinstated his ministerial credentials in June, the decision is being challenged and awaits a final verdict from the church's Judicial Council.

The verdict is expected to come today or tomorrow. While he awaited his verdict, Schaefer spoke to members of Bethany United Methodist Church in Madison today.

"What we're doing is really doing harm to people. My son is really the perfect example of that. The doctrine harmed him to the point where he was considering suicide," Schaefer said, speaking of his son's emotions after realizing he was gay.

Schaefer encouraged members of Bethany United Methodist Church to keep praying for change.

"I had tears in my eyes during his sermon this morning imagining what he went through. He sacrificed just about everything for his gay son, and that's a message of support for all of us," said Carl White, the church's Office Administrator and a 22-year member of the congregation.

Bethany's lead pastor, Greg Jewison, said the Judicial Council's decision on Schaefer's case will carry significant weight about the church's future.

"If they decide to allow him to remain in ministry, it's going to be a signal that our denomination is moving toward being much more inclusive toward all people," Jewison said.

Schaefer said regardless of his verdict, he will continue to fight for right for all people.

"I would have put my life on the line for this and I'm not going to stop," he said.