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Church charges Calif minister over gay weddings

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March 29, 2010 03:53 PM EST | AP


SANTA ROSA, Calif. — A retired Presbyterian minister in Northern California is again facing charges she violated church law when she officiated at the weddings of gay couples.

The Rev. Jane Spahr was acquitted two years ago of similar charges when the church's Supreme Judicial Council found that she did not violate denominational law because they were not real marriages.

This time, the same-sex marriages at issues were legal in California. Spahr's lawyer says it's unprecedented that the church is trying to sanction a minister for performing legal marriages.

The prosecution counters that while the marriages may have been legal under state law, they were "expressly prohibited" by the church.

Spahr, who lives in San Francisco, used to lead a ministry for gay Presbyterians until she retired in 2007.

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Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com