He was removed from the clergy for performing the same-sex marriage ceremony of his own son
OBERLIN -- A Pennsylvania pastor's visit to Northeast Ohio comes with much controversy.
Frank Schaefer was a United Methodist minister for decades, and his gay son asked him to officiate his wedding. But the Methodist church bars clergy from performing same-sex marriages.
Now Schaefer is facing the consequences and standing up for what he believes in -- as a father and as a former clergy man.
Ringing in the church rafters, his message was loud and clear.
"There is nothing wrong with being gay, God created you the way you are, and be proud of it, and we love you," Schaefer said.
It's the message the former minister brought to Oberlin on Thursday night and is taking across the country after he was recently defrocked for officiating his gay son's wedding back in 2007.
"I just had to stand up for my son and my other two gay children and all LGBT members of our church and just follow my heart," Schaefer said.
Now he proudly wears a rainbow stole and uses his personal experience to spread a different gospel, one local pastor Andy Call supports.
"I'm comfortable with people knowing where I stand on this issue," Call said.
Both men hope church leadership will consider a new stance on same-sex marriage.
"We need to stop the hate speech," Schaefer said. "We're doing so much harm and so much hurt."
They say it's a civil rights issue -- not "whether to include" but "how to include" the LGBT community.
"It's about justice," Call said.
It's not just for his Schaefer's son but for everyone.
"I can no longer be a silent supporter. I will be outspoken," Schaefer said. "I think God wanted me to get that message. I have three gay children out of four."
Schaefer said this area still has a long way to go in accepting his views, but places like California and New England have embraced it. In fact, he might be ordained again as a minister on the West Coast.
Schaefer believes by 2016 the Methodist church will make a change.