A Methodist minister has cast himself out into the cold to show his support LGBT people, vowing to sleep in a tent outside his Michigan home for 175 days to protest his church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT members.
Rev. Michael Tupper, pastor of Parchment United Methodist Church in Parchment, Michigan, first engaged with LGBT issues six years ago when his daughter Sarah came out to him as a lesbian. But his entry into outright pro-LGBT activism began last year, when Sarah asked him to officiate her wedding to another woman she met while attending Wheaton College, a hardline conservative evangelical Christian school.
Pastors are prohibited from officiating same-sex weddings in Tupper’s denomination, the United Methodist Church (UMC), and those that do are often put on trial within the church. But Tupper did it anyway, explaining to ThinkProgress that he simply couldn’t tell his daughter no.
“I chose to do that, and complaint was filed,” he said. “All of sudden it became so clear to me — the discrimination against LGBT people in the church.”
After he was brought up on charges by church officials for performing the same-sex union, Tupper pitched a tent outside the office of the man tasked with handling his case, hoping to dissuade him from prosecuting. When the case ultimately moved forward, Tupper returned to Parchment, where he is now vowing to sleep outside his house for 175 consecutive nights in protest — no small feat in Michigan, where snow is a constant and where temperatures often drop to frigid levels in winter.
“Most nights it gets into the 20s. It’s gotten down to 5 degrees,” he said, noting that he sleeps in a sleeping bag tucked inside another sleeping bag. “Yeah it’s cold. But I’ve managed.”
The protest, he said, is about more than his case — it’s about how the church treats LGBT people like his daughter.
“It’s to symbolize how our church — particularly the United Methodist Church — is pushing LGBT people outside,” he said. “It symbolizes how we push LGBT people out of the church and into the cold.”
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SOURCE: Think Progress