A reverend and bishop in North Carolina are facing complaints after performing the first same-sex marriage in a Methodist church in the state.
Reverend Val Rosenquist, who is part of the First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, along with retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, officiated North Carolina's first same-sex Methodist wedding, marrying church members John Romano and Jim Wilborne, according to World Religion News.
The service, which was attended by more than 250 people including Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, was held inside the First United Methodist Church.
The couple said being married in their own church was important to them, despite a Methodist doctrine against same-sex marriage. The reverend said she performed the marriage because LGBT members of the Methodist church are the church's brothers and sisters.
Talbert, who shared a jail cell with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960, said his disobedience of Methodist rules against same-sex marriage was an act of “biblical obedience," noting that discrimination in the church is wrong.
"It was just so amazing to us to be married in our own church," Romano said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. "And not do it under the radar, but do it in a way to promote change."
"We didn’t leave it to go where it was easier [to get married]," Wilborne said, who has been Romano's partner for more than five years. "We stayed here because we love this church … It’s our home. We just feel blessed. We’re at the right place at the right time to have this opportunity."
A formal complaint was filed with the church's bishop, Larry Goodpaster. He said in a statement that the church is looking into suitable action to take against Rosenquist and Talbert.
"These folks are our brothers and sisters,” Rosenquist said about LGBT members. “It’s just a matter of obeying our covenant with one another throughout the church, that we are to minister to all and to treat all the same. I’m just following what I was ordained to do, what I was baptized to do."