US: Kentucky Baptist church to host same-sex wedding
A Kentucky Baptist church has made plans to host its first same-sex wedding, despite the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
The Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has announced that same-sex couple David Bannister Jr and Steven Carr, 29 and 25, will marry in the church next May.
The Southern Baptist Convention – the largest Baptist convention in the US – is militantly opposed to same-sex marriage ceremonies, but Highland broke away from the group nearly 20 years ago.
It is possible that the case will have resolved by the May 2015 date for the wedding, but if not, the marriage could be unrecognised.
Sam Marcosson, a law professor at the University of Louisville, said the move “may influence the debate” on the issue.
Pastor Joe Phelps (no relation) said: “It takes courage to step out into the unknown. It’s taking us courage to be one of the first churches to do this.
“There are a very small number in the church who are upset, and to their credit, they have stayed with the church through all of this.”
He added that when he arrived at the church in 1997, it operated a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy regarding homosexuality.
He said: “Inch by inch, it sort of begins to dawn on us. Over time, we’ve come to the realization that led us to today.”
The church appointed its first gay minister, Reverend Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, in 2012.