Gay couple George Harris and Jack Evans were married on Sunday after 53 years together by a United Methodist priest who has put his pension and credentials as a clergyman on the line in order to conduct the ceremony.
Harris, 80, and Evans, 84, met in Dallas in 1961 and have been together ever since.
They were married 1 March at Midway Hills Christian Church.
They had hoped to marry at North Haven Methodist Church where they are both members but the United Methodist Church is yet to approve of same-sex marriage – though many dissenting United Methodist clergy have been marrying gay couples despite the risk of sacking.
One of those clergy, the Rev. Bill McElvaney, performed the service despite it potentially putting him in the cross hairs of the church leadership.
McElvaney is retired and being treated for cancer and relies on the church for his pension and if it decides to act against him he would not be the first to be sacked for doing so – the Rev. Frank Schaefer was defrocked by the church last year for refusing to apologize for performing his son’s wedding.
Several other United Methodist clergy attended the wedding to show their support.
Despite that McElvaney told Dallas Voice that he was happy to help the couple challenge their church’s policy on performing same-sex religious marriages.
‘Jack and George are challenging the United Methodist Church to become a fully inclusive church,’ McElvaney said.
‘I’m privileged to be part of it.’
The couple’s wedding was held in the same week that a federal court judge struck down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage – though that ruling has been stayed until an appeal can be heard – meaning Harris’ and Evans’ marriage won’t be legally recognized yet.