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Two ministers defied the UMC ban on same-sex marriage at Charlotte’s First United Methodist Church.

In 2015, a United States ruling legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. In the wake of the ruling, mainline protestant denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Episcopal Church in America all gave their clergy permission to conduct same-sex weddings. However, denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention still remains defiant of the ruling. They officially oppose same-sex marriage. In North Carolina, the official ban on same-sex marriage was lifted by the Federal Court in 2014. Following the lift on the ban, Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the United Methodist Church, America's largest mainline denomination that has about 7 million U.S. members, sent a letter to all its clergy stating that the church's rules remain the same, and any ministers performing same-sex marriage could face reprimand or even a church trial.

However, this did not faze Reverend Val Rosenquist of First United Methodist Church of Charlotte and retired Bishop Melvin Talbert in officiating the wedding of John Romano and Jim Wilborne, last Saturday, at the First United Methodist Church, in Charlotte, where both the men are members. Romano and Wilborne, both in their 50s, have been living together for over five years. According to the couple, getting married in their own church has been important to them. The wedding was attended by more than 250 people, including the Mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, a friend of Romano and Wilborne. The couple made history by being the first same-sex couple to get married publicly in a United Methodist church, in North Carolina.

Reverend Rosenquist has been the senior pastor of the First United Methodist since July 2015. She said on Sunday, a day after she performed the same-sex wedding, that the Book of Discipline has institutionalized discrimination and oppression. The LGBT members are their brothers and sisters. Her duty as a minister is to serve all the same. When she performed the ceremony, she has been just following what she was ordained to do, what she was baptized to do.

Talbert, who has a history of sharing a jail cell with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960, called his act of performing the same-sex marriage as “biblical obedience.” He said that discrimination is discrimination, and it is wrong.

A formal complaint has been filed over the same-sex marriage, with the United Methodist Bishop Larry Goodpaster. Last Tuesday, the church issued a statement that the Bishop has begun the process to take suitable action against the two ministers who officiated the marriage.

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