Church elder deposed after anonymous informer sends photos, communications

Senator describes decision of Presbyterian leaders as ‘extraordinary’

Senator David Norris said he had been contacted by the former elder of the church, who married his partner after the passage of the marriage equality legislation. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Senator David Norris said he had been contacted by the former elder of the church, who married his partner after the passage of the marriage equality legislation. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A decision of the Presbyterian Church to depose an elder after it emerged that he had married his male partner has been described as “extraordinary” and disappointing.

Independent Senator David Norris told the Upper House that photographs and other information sent to the church leaders by an anonymous informer resulted in the elder losing his position.

Mr Norris said he had been contacted by the former elder of the church, who married his partner after the passage of the marriage equality legislation.

A commission was established and the elder was deposed after his marriage was discovered and anonymous communications sent to the Presbyterian Church.

He said the communications included a copy of his marriage certificate, “photographs from social media of him with his new family, enjoying himself on holiday and so on”.

The Trinity Senator said the identity of the accuser was never made clear.

“It seems extraordinary to me,” he said, adding “I wonder where marriage equality has got us on this one?

“I understand that churches are exempt from some of these operations but it is great pity. It is extraordinary to me and I wanted to register a protest on this matter.”

Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer said the position taken by the Presbyterian Church was disappointing.

“We see so many churchmen, including Bishop (Paul) Colton in Cork, who are leaders when it comes to inclusivity and equality and welcoming diversity. For the church to take that view is disappointing.”