A black pastor at the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, has been sentenced to one year imprisonment for not accepting to wed a gay couple.
The Man of God, Paul Horner, 56, had his lawyer, attorney Tom Downey speak to newsmen on his behalf.
The lawyer said, “We are currently disputing the guilty verdict and I am confident my client will be a free man here shortly.”
“Horner was just using his best judgment according to his rights and religious freedom in this country.”
The Judge in charge, Honorable Myron Danus in his verdict said, “Religious freedom goes both ways, Mr. Horner.”
Speaking to a packed courtroom, Danus said,“It is not your place to deny individuals the same rights that everyone else has, rights that were passed down and agreed upon in a court of law, the ultimate court, the Supreme Court. It is not your decision whether or not you agree with the law but more importantly that you follow it and enforce it.”
NBC reports has it that the Christian Proctor Church is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”
But the church is also registered as a for-profit business and city officials said that means the owners must comply with state and federal regulations.
The president of the Vermont Family Research Committee, Steve Shand, said it is “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage.”
“Homosexuals are gay,” Shand told reporters. “Why should Christian ministers be forced to perform and celebrate any marriage that conflicts with their beliefs? It’s a slippery slope my friend. Pretty soon these same pastors will be forced to wed animals or kitchen appliances. This is not my America!”
Reacting to the development, Gwen Hawkins, who is president of the LGBT Pride Center said she is happy with the court.
“We just want the same rights as everyone else and this guilty verdict sets a great precedent,” Hawkins said.