Retired Methodist bishop faces complaint for performing same-sex marriage

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A retired United Methodist bishop who performed a wedding ceremony for two Alabama men after they were refused permission to marry in the church now faces formal complaints over the ceremony.

A church statement said complaints had been filed against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, who conducted the wedding ceremony in Birmingham last October. Talbert is accused of violating his ‘‘sacred trust’’ as a bishop by performing the ceremony, said a statement from the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

Talbert, of Nashville, declined comment on the complaints, which were requested by the denomination’s Council of Bishops.


Joe Openshaw, one of the men who was wed, said Friday that he hopes the complaints are dismissed.

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‘‘I am truly saddened that a complaint has been filed over what was one of the most love-filled and happiest days of my life,’’ said Openshaw.

Church officials would not say who filed the complaints, citing the confidentiality.

The church announced the complaints against Talbert a week after similar charges were dropped against a retired Methodist minister who presided at his son’s same-sex wedding in New York. In December, a minister from Pennsylvania was defrocked after presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding.

The men weren’t allowed to marry in their church because the United Methodist denomination doesn’t allow its ministers to hold same-sex weddings.


Talbert — who is aligned with a group that supports allowing gay marriage within the church — married the men at another church in Birmingham. He did so after Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, who oversees United Methodist operations in North Alabama, asked him not do so.

Associated Press