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November 20th, 2013
06:28 PM ET

Pastor suspended for officiating son's same-sex wedding would do it again

(CNN) - A Pennsylvania minister was suspended for 30 days on Tuesday after he was found guilty in a church trial for officiating his son's same-sex wedding, according to church officials.

If Pastor Frank Schaefer officiates another same-sex marriage, he could be defrocked, not just suspended. But he says it would be "absolutely worth it" to take a stand for what he believes is equality.

When the jury pronounced Schaefer's sentence, his supporters started ceremoniously turning over chairs in the courtroom – an allusion to the biblical story of Christ overturning the money changer's tables in the temple.

"It was quite dramatic," Schaefer said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "It was a statement that the supporters of the LGBT community made that day, a very strong statement that said, 'We are not okay with this verdict of guilty.'"

Schaefer, 51, the pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was found guilty by a jury of 13 ordained clergy members on two counts: officiating a same-sex wedding and being disobedient to the discipline and order of the church.

The church's law, which forbids pastors to provide ministry to same-sex couples, "is just not right," said Schaefer, because it sends a signal to homosexual church members that they are "second-class Christians."

The pastor said he does not want to part ways with his church, but rather change its teachings from within.

"I've been a member of this church for 20 years, and my children grew up in this faith, and there are many people in the United Methodist Church that are LGBT folks, or are supporting LGBT folks," said Schafer.

"We have to start talking about these things, instead of sweeping this issue under the carpet," said Schafer.

"We need to stop bringing these events, these joyful events of same-sex marriages to trials, and I think the bishops in our church have that power" to start a dialogue, and deal with the issue differently, said Schaefer.

"Hopefully at the end of that, there might be a change," said Schaefer.

CNN's Edward Meagher contributed to this report.

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