Bishop Melvin Talbert is a retired bishop of the Western Jurisdiction. He has advocated for civil rights his entire life and has become most recently known for his call for clergy to disobey denominational rules concerning same-sex unions. On October 26th he blessed a same-sex union of two men in Birmingham, Alabama. They were legally married in Washington, D.C. Because the United Methodist Church does not honor same-sex marriages, the ceremony was held at Covenant Community Church in Center Point, a church affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and the Executive Committee of the UMC Council of Bishops have asked Bishop Talbert to refrain from overseeing this union.
Bishop Wallace-Padgett was both applauded and criticized for her call to abide by the Book of Discipline, and asking Bishop Talbert to not participate in this ceremony. An article from the North Alabama Conference website, with a link to her press release and comments can be found here.
The Council of Bishops Executive Committee appealed to the teaching of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which governs the practice of ministry for United Methodist clergy and bishops. “The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline,” the committee wrote. “‘Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies’ are chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church. (¶2702.1.b)” http://unitedmethodistreporter.com/2013/10/23/council-bishops-executive-committee-urges-talbert-refrain-sex-wedding/