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A pastor at the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, USA, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after refusing to marry gay couples, according to NBC. This comes shortly after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision ruling that states must allow gay-marriage.
The Christian Pastor, 56-year-old Paul Horner, had his lawyer speak to reporters on his behalf.
“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.”
The Honorable Myron Danus (pictured above) handed down the harsh sentence. “Religious freedom goes both ways, Mr. Horner,” Danus told a packed courtroom. “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.”
According to the criminal investigation, 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.
Steve Shand president of the Vermont Family Research Committee, 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!”
Gwen Hawkins who is president of the LGBT Pride Center in Vermont said she is happy with the guilty verdict.
“We just want the same rights as everyone else and this guilty verdict sets a great precedent,” Hawkins said. “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 Palin for having a baby out of wedlock? And what about her mother, Sarah Palin, breaking the rules of Corinthians 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.