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Those who support changing the laws say those parts of the Book of Discipline contradict sections that call for clergy to treat all people with dignity.
"The tide is turning," said Jimmy Creech, a former ordained elder in Nebraska who lost his clergy credentials after a 1999 church trial found him guilty of presiding at gay weddings. "If all the clergy who clearly understood this to be a violation of the humanity of lesbian and gay people stood up, the church would have no choice but to back down."
Creech, 69, is pleased with the public defiance of what he calls "completely bigoted" church law.
Ogletree, who grew up in Alabama and was involved with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, points out that the denomination formerly supported slavery and racial segregation and denied a full role for women. When those policies were found to be wrong, the church changed, Ogletree said.
He’s convinced now is the time for action, adding: "I don’t think we can bring about change without more of us stepping forward boldly."
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