BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A retired United Methodist bishop from Tennessee says he will perform a wedding service for two men in Alabama despite opposition from the presiding bishop, who says the ceremony will violate church law.
Bishop Melvin Talbert, who has been active in efforts to eliminate barriers to gay marriage from United Methodist doctrine, said it will be an honor to officiate at the ceremony later this month in metro Birmingham for Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince. Talbert said he was contacted by the longtime partners after they learned they could not be married in the area church where they are active members.
While Alabama does not recognize same-sex marriage, Openshaw says he and his partner were married legally in Washington, D.C., last month. He and Prince want to have a church ceremony at home in Alabama for their family and friends.
The United Methodist Church is the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination with almost 8 million members. During their last national meeting in 2012, Methodists upheld the denomination’s policy that same-sex relationships conflict with Christian teaching.