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San Francisco UM Church Joins Homosexual Rebellion And Performs Gay Wedding During Sunday Worship


Contacts:Bruce Pettit, 415-550-0932; Brudunpet@aol.com
Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, 415-647-8393; BethanyUMC@aol.com

February 15, 2004

First Gay Marriage in a United Methodist Church

Dan Johnson and Bill Hinson became the first gay couple ever married in the sanctuary of a United Methodist Church on Sunday [Feb. 15].  The ceremony was officiated by the Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, at the church she has served for 12 years -- Bethany UMC in San Francisco -- during the regular morning worship.

Johnson and Hinson, partners for 12 years and members of Bethany, said they could have chosen to be married in San Francisco City Hall, but wanted a church wedding.  Marriages of gay and lesbians couples were declared legal in San Francisco by Mayor Gavin Newsom last week.



Contacts:Bruce Pettit, 415-550-0932; Brudunpet@aol.com
Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, 415-647-8393; BethanyUMC@aol.com

UM Pastor Weds Gay/Lesbian Couples at SF City Hall
San Francisco -- Feb. 13, 2004

By Bruce Pettit    

Karen Oliveto, pastor of Bethany UMC in San Francisco, presided over five marriage ceremonies in San Francisco City Hall in two days as part of Mayor Gavin Newsom's decree that to deny gays and lesbians the opportunity to marry is discriminatory.

Rev. Oliveto led vows for Michael Eaton and his partner Sean Higgins on Thursday [Feb. 12] and for Gloria Soliz and her partner Julie Williamson on Friday morning [Feb. 13]. Both couples are longtime attendees of Bethany. On Friday afternoon she married Connie Adachi and Judy Kriege, long time friends from Epworth UMC in Berkeley. On Saturday, Valentine's Day, she will marry at least one more couple from Bethany.

All couples she is marrying in these few days are ones with whom she has had a previous pastoral relationship.She declined to marry other couples at City Hall who were simply looking for any clergy person to wed them.

Oliveto signed all the newly minted marriage certficates, that had removed references to bride and groom, and merely listed two "applicants."

Opponents of gay marriage filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court Friday to halt the proceedings with an injunction, which could be issued on Tuesday [Feb. 17]. No one knows the future implications. But none of the couples, nor Oliveto, hesitated to respond to Newsom's spontaneous invitation to perform the ceremonies before they might be stopped. The United Methodist Church officially has a ban on holy unions, but none on marriages -- which Newsom declared these to be.

Oliveto, in her weekly e-mail message to her parishioners, wrote Thursday night: "Today was a historic day in our city, as more than 150 gay and lesbian couples were legally married. As your pastor, I had the privilege of officiating at the marriage of Michael Eaton and Sean Higgins. It was one of the most moving experiences of my ministry.  I have presided over countless holy unions, and have treated them with the same solemnity and respect that I would any straight wedding. But to be able to say the words, 'You are now legally wed' was a powerful thing!  As politicians try to find a compromise in civil unions, it was glaringly evident to me today that there is no such thing as 'separate but equal'--the rite--and rights--of marriage must be extended to all loving, committed couples."

Before Thursday's surprising invitation, Bethany was already planning to invite all couples to its service Sunday [Feb. 15] to renew their vows of love and commitment at the church in the city's Noe Valley neighborhood.  Bethany was the fourth-declared reconciling congregation in the denomination 20 years ago.

"I feel very proud and honored," said Eaton, "to have a pastor who is courageous enough to serve the pastoral needs of all her congregation -- no matter what risks that may entail."


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