This week’s trial of the Rev. Jane Adam Spahr, openly lesbian minster in the Presbyterian Church (USA), is laying the groundwork for what could be another long legal battle. Rev. Spahr is being tried for performing weddings for sixteen same-sex couples during the window when weddings were legal in California.
Eleven of those couples are testifying this week, and Rev. Spahr was hopeful.
The Bay Area Reporter quoted Spahr, "My hope is we'll hear their story and hear their love, and it will be an amazing time for the church to witness this kind of love and the great hospitality of God."
Rev. Spahr’s defense counsel is arguing that she did nothing wrong since these marriages were legal. Presbyterian Clergy, like clergy in all denominations, are licensed by the state to perform weddings. And although the PCUSA allows “blessing of unions” for same-sex couples, the denomination does not allow them to be called marriages.
In 2008 trials of Rev. Spahr, the regional Presbytery cleared her of wrong-doing. The appeals church court convicted her of breaking the rules, but the national church court lifted all sanctions by splitting hairs. They upheld the denomination’s rejection of same-sex marriage but announced that, "A same-sex ceremony is not and cannot be a marriage."
Either way this trial goes, Spahr hopes that will be “one step along the way” to equality. And, either way this trial goes, it will most likely be appealed.