A gay couple in North Carolina has filed a complaint of "gender discrimination" with the Methodist Church after a pastor refused to marry them -- and the pastor says he wants to "co-sign" on the side of the two men.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported on Wednesday that Scott Chappell and Kenny Barner were embraced by members of their church for filing a complaint against their pastor for violating church doctrine that required him to “be in ministry with all people." The couple said that Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter of Green Street United Methodist Church was committing "gender discrimination" by refusing to marry them.
“God’s grace is available to all and so should the pastoral ministry," the complaint noted.
For his part, Carpenter has said that he wishes that he could marry Chappell and Barner, but church doctrine considers homosexuality to be “incompatible with Christian teaching." And the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church has threatened to "enforce the discipline" against its same-sex marriage ban.
“If there was a way for me to be a co-signer with the complaint, I think it’s right on the money,” Carpenter explained. “It really calls out the contradictions in our Book of Discipline, which calls us to be ministry with all people.”
In 2013, the United Methodist Church defrocked a pastor in Pennsylvania for violating church discipline by performing a same-sex marriage ceremony for his son. He was later reinstated.
Chappell argued that church rules were contradictory.
“Rules are being violated in our Book of Discipline already,” he told United Methodist News Service. “Are we going to violate the rule that bans discrimination? Or are we going to violate the rule banning discrimination that bans same-sex ceremonies?”
Green Street announced in 2013 that it would halt all marriage ceremonies at the church until same-sex couples were treated equally.
Carpenter speculated that his support for the complaint against him "may get me in some trouble."
"But it may be the kind of trouble I’ve been looking for," he said.
Watch the video below from The Winston-Salem Journal, broadcast Nov. 12, 2104.
Watch the video below from WFMY, broadcast Nov. 12, 2014.