Minister Faces Church Trial For Marrying Same Sex Couples

08.24.10 | FL News Team

(San Francisco, CA)  --  A retired lesbian minister in Napa, California is facing a Presbyterian Church trial for officiating at same-sex weddings.  Church officials have charged the Reverend Jane Adams Spahr with violating her denomination's constitution when she married dozens of same-sex couples during the five-month window in 2008 when gay marriage was legal in California.

While the Presbyterian constitution doesn't explicitly mention gay marriage, it does define marriage as "a civil contract between a woman and a man."  Eleven of the couples Spahr married are expected to testify during the proceedings, which could start as early as today.  Spahr's lawyer also wants to call an expert witness to dispute the most common scripture-based arguments against same-sex marriage.

The church trial comes less than three weeks after a San Francisco judge ruled that California's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.  Spahr could face censure and be defrocked if she's found guilty.  

Meanwhile, the California state Senate passed a resolution Monday calling on President Obama and Congress to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  The 1996 law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state.