Pastor David Meredith, an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, married his boyfriend of 28 years on Saturday in a potent protest against church doctrine that bans ministers from marrying same-sex partners. “I am completely aware that there are consequences, but I am not afraid,” Meredith told BuzzFeed News in a phone call before the ceremony, pointing out he could be defrocked, removed from his congregation in Cincinnati, and lose his income.

The wedding was, of course, primarily about his union with Jim Schlachter, he said. But, he added, “if it leads to a change, it will be a big win.” The timing was deliberate. With the church’s international voting body meeting Tuesday in Oregon, the high-profile marriage could persuade delegates at the General Conference to pass several proposals that would repeal the church’s anti-gay rules. Those rules ban clergy from being out homosexuals, prohibit clergy from marrying same-sex couples, and bar funding for LGBT-positive organizations. READ MORE