Two lesbian pastors have sealed their union in church., Pastor Twanna Gause, clad in an off-white wedding gown and veil, stepped out of a limousine amid the whir of cameras outside the New Vision Full Gospel Baptist Church in East Orange, N.J.
Her partner, Pastor Vanessa Brown, who stood waiting at the altar in a cream-colored long coat. They were led by Bishops Levi Richards and Eugene Gathers, both of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.
“She’s our spiritual daughter,” Bishop Richards said.
Both men walked Ms. Gause down the aisle, a role she had initially hoped would be accepted by her father, the Rev. Sam Gause Sr., a Pentecostal minister who lives in Atlanta.
But Mr. Gause, citing “differences in theological beliefs,” refused his daughter’s invitation.
“My father would not come here because he does not believe in same-sex marriage,” Ms. Gause said. “He told me the devil tricked me into this, and that if we had been married in biblical times, we would have been stoned to death.”
When contacted by the New York Times, he said:
“Twanna very well knows I’m not for that kind of lifestyle,” he said by phone in a calm and stern tone several days after the wedding.
“I believe that God wanted us to procreate through a natural process, and by no means am I happy about this because it is unnatural,” he said. “I look at homosexuality as a mental disorder. If I start to tell you that I am an elephant, and start to behave as an elephant, that’s my choice, I choose to become an elephant. But you would probably choose to call a mental institution.”
Mr. Gause, long affiliated with the Center of Hope Church of God in Christ in Riverdale, Ga., said he had no immediate plans to contact his daughter.
He was also disappointed her mother,his ex-wife attended the wedding
“I will talk to her at some point, I suppose, if she calls me, but I will not initiate the call,” he said. “I do have some words for her that she needs to hear. I’m not going to condemn her or judge her because I don’t have that authority, but judgment has already been established by God.”
When asked about Mr. Gause’s absence at the wedding reception, an elegant affair at il Tulipano in Cedar Grove, N.J., Bishop Richards said simply: “God has a way of honoring us when others won’t.”
Mary Ellen Brown, did not mince words when talking about her ex-husband’s refusal to attend.
“He has no right to judge them,” she said. “I tried to get him to come here tonight but it was a losing battle. He asked me why I would even bother showing up, and I said to him, ‘All you need to remember is that Twanna is my daughter, and I love her, and I have her back no matter what she does, and that’s why I’ll be there.’”
On how their love story began,they met as choir girls about three decades ago in New Jersey.
“I was like, ‘Oh wow, what in the world, who’s that, she’s beautiful,’” recalled Ms. Gause, who was then a 16-year-old living in Paterson, N.J. “I immediately felt this kind of strange, warm feeling wash over me, and though I had not yet spoken a word to her, I could see myself loving this woman forever. My head was just spinning.”
Ms. Brown, then 18 and living in New York, was not struck by the same thunderbolt.
“I was oblivious as to how Twanna was feeling,” Ms. Brown said. “I looked at her as this adorable, skinny little girl who I initially thought was so much younger than me, and I had no idea that she liked me in any way other than as a friend.”
They kept in touch, and Ms. Gause moved back to Paterson in 1994, and became engaged to a man there, breaking it off in less than a year and returning to Atlanta, where she toured with a gospel choir and worked as a cosmetologist.
They began official dating in 2006