Bishop Melvin Talbert agreed to marry John Romano and Jim Wilborne, both 52, in Charlotte North Carolina, despite knowing that he could be defrocked by the United Methodist Church.
The gay wedding was kept secret to stop “people having time to organise a protest”, and even had to hire security to keep demonstrators out.
The Bishop told the church’s policies currently banning clergy from performing same-sex weddings “are immoral, unjust, and oppressive, and they no longer deserve our loyalty and support”. Adding: “I have to make a choice between my church and God, and I am choosing God".
He described the act as “civil disobedience”, saying he knew he could lose his role as bishop over the act. “Discrimination is discrimination no matter where it is. It was race discrimination then, and it is discrimination based on sexual orientation now.”
The United Methodist Church has 7 million members, and is the largest protestant denomination in the US.
Congrats to the newlyweds!