PHILADELPHIA - A pastor who presided over his son's same-sex wedding ceremony and vowed to perform other gay marriages if asked can return to the pulpit after a United Methodist Church appeals panel on Tuesday overturned a decision to defrock him.
The nine-person panel ordered the church to restore Frank Schaefer's pastoral credentials, saying the jury that convicted him of breaking church law erred when fashioning his punishment.
"I've devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me," an exultant Schaefer told The Associated Press, adding he intends to work for gay rights "with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church."
The appeals panel, which met in Linthicum, Md., last week to hear the case, upheld a 30-day suspension that Schaefer has already served and said he should get back pay dating to when the suspension ended in December.
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