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December 19, 2013 | By Tina Susman
NEW YORK - Frank Schaefer had prepared for the worst, but his voice shook Thursday as he described how it felt to be defrocked by the United Methodist Church after he refused to comply with its law against same-sex marriage. "I guess I took it harder than I thought I would," Schaefer said shortly after a private meeting in which church officials demanded that the pastor from Lebanon, Pa., surrender his credentials. "I was prepared for it, but it's traumatic. " Schaefer, who officiated at his son's marriage to another man in 2007, appealed, setting the stage for a drawn-out battle over an issue that has put the United Methodist Church at odds with some of its clergy and with public attitudes toward same-sex marriage.
December 16, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
A United Methodist minister who was suspended for officiating at his son's same-sex marriage said Monday he would not voluntarily surrender his religious credentials even though he could not uphold his church's doctrines on issues relating to gay marriage. The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., was convicted by a church jury of violating doctrine by performing a same-sex marriage when he officiated at his son's nuptials in Massachusetts in 2007. On Nov. 19, he was suspended for 30 days and asked to agree to abide by church doctrine, as outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, or surrender his ministerial credentials.
November 5, 2013 | Steve Lopez
I keep waiting for the news that prosecutors in Pennsylvania have come to their senses and dropped criminal charges against Barbara Mancini. But so far, that hasn't happened, which means the Philadelphia resident, an emergency room nurse, may soon be on trial, accused of assisting in the February suicide of her gravely ill 93-year-old father. "I can tell you that at times, the stress is unbearable," said Joe Mancini, whose wife is under a judge's gag order and cannot discuss the case against her. Joe, a paramedic for the Philadelphia Fire Department, is working 60-hour weeks because his wife has been placed by her hospital on unpaid leave until the case is resolved.
October 26, 2013 | By Soumya Karlamangla
In an odd series of events leaving authorities searching for answers, a Pennsylvania police officer took another officer hostage, drove him to a nearby town in a police car, and ultimately shot himself in the head. Carbon County Deputy Sheriff David Midas, 33, died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 8:20 p.m. Friday, according to state police. Midas went to the Lansford police station Friday night and took ammunition and an unmarked police car and drove it to the home of another off-duty officer and took him hostage, according to the Associated Press.
October 12, 2013 | By Nicole Radzievich and Pamela Lehman
The tiny coal town of Gilberton has become a spectacle for the nation's gun debate, marshaling dozens of armed gun-rights activists who come to defend the borough's suspended police chief, whose profanity-laced YouTube videos sparked the controversy. At four meetings in as many months, the backers of Chief Mark Kessler showed their support by packing - they came to disciplinary hearings bristling with semiautomatic rifles and handguns. Several slung rifles over their shoulders, others holstered them on their hips or beneath clothing.
October 4, 2013 | By Joseph Tanfani
NEW HANOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Kenn Challender, a Republican, is not thrilled with Obamacare. But this week, he's a lot more worried about how he's going to pay the mortgage and feed his three children. The government shutdown has temporarily cost him his job as a civilian aircraft mechanic at a nearby military base. "I talked to the bank, and they said the best they could do would be to waive the late fee," said Challender, 33, standing underneath the American flag on his front step.
October 4, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
The governor of Pennsylvania compared same-sex marriage to incest, sparking the latest uproar in the state's ongoing battle over whether to allow gays to wed. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, was interviewed on WHP-TV in Harrisburg, where the anchor asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally wed in the state. "It was an inappropriate analogy, you know," Corbett said in the interview aired on Friday.
September 20, 2013 | By Matt Hamilton
Leaders of a Pennsylvania borough voted this week to fire their foul-mouthed police chief while the embattled cop's attorney vowed Friday to seek a public hearing for his client. The Borough Council of Gilberton voted 6 to 1 to “suspend pending termination” of Chief Mark Kessler, giving him a 10-day period to appeal the firing before it comes final. Kessler was first suspended in August for the unauthorized use of borough-owned firearms used in YouTube videos that have received nearly 1 million views.
September 4, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
A Pennsylvania court will consider whether a local clerk in the suburbs of Philadelphia acted properly in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after he decided that he had to do so in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threw out portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. D. Bruce Hanes, Montgomery County's register of wills, who also issues marriage licenses as part of his duties as clerk of the county orphans' court, approved...
August 31, 2013 | By Matt Hamilton
The gun-firing, obscenity-shouting Pennsylvania police chief whose online videos have received nearly a million views predicts that he will soon be fired from his decade-long tenure as the town's top cop. “Did I make some questionable videos? Sure,” Chief Mark Kessler told The Times. “But all I did was speak and express my 2nd Amendment rights. It was just me, my tiny camera … and a pile of dirt.” Kessler was suspended by the seven-member Gilberton Borough Council earlier this month for the unauthorized firing of borough-owned automatic weapons on the YouTube videos in which he derides liberals and promotes gun rights while going off on profanity-laced rants.
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