A 56-year-old pastor, Paul Horner, has been jailed in the United States for allegedly refusing to join a gay couple despite the legalization of gay marriage across the nation.
Horner of the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, was given a sentence of one-year jail term in the federal prison.
Handing down the sentence, Honorable Myron Danus said, “Religious freedom goes both ways, Mr. Horner.
“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.”
Speaking to journalists after the court session, Horner’s lawyer said, “We are currently disputing the guilty verdict and I am confident my client will be a free man here shortly,” said attorney Tom Downey.
“Horner was just using his best judgement according to his rights and religious freedom in this country.”
Investigators discovered that Horner’s church is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” which is only entitled to joining “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”
City officials are of the view that the church authorities must comply with state and federal regulations since it is also registered as a for-profit business.
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. 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!”
According to NBC, Gwen Hawkins who is president of the LGBT Pride Center in Vermont said she is happy with the guilty verdict.
Hawkins said, “We just want the same rights as everyone else and this guilty verdict sets a great precedent.
“These fanatical Christians base their life on one verse in the Bible but they seem to forget the other 99% of the verses in the book. For example, why can’t we stone to death Bristol Palinfor having a baby out of wedlock? And what about her mother, Sarah Palin, breaking the rules ofCorinthians 14:34 which clearly state that as a woman, she is not allowed to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. But no, they like to pick the one verse in the Bible about gay people and build their camp around it.”
Proctor is a town in Rutland County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,741 at the 2010 census. Proctor is home to the Vermont Marble Museum and Wilson Castle.