SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Rev. Steve Heiss presided at his first same-sex marriage ceremony in a field in upstate New York on July 7, 2002. At the time, gay marriage was not legal in New York, and it remains illegal in the United Methodist Church.
But his daughter was getting married, and he wanted to bless her relationship. As pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Binghamton, N.Y., he knew he was violating church law, but he saw no reason the women should not be treated as any other couple.
“Even then I knew it was worth the risk,” he said. “It was so right. You only have one opportunity to do this in your lifetime. I couldn’t imagine anyone would be so upset about it.”
In 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York state. Within a week, Heiss officiated at a same-sex marriage, and he has presided over six more since. Five of those weddings took place at his church.