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Decision No. 1020

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October 28 2005
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the California-Nevada Annual Conference Related to the Adoption by the Annual Conference of a Definition for "Status" and the Refusal to Adopt a Definition for "Practicing" with Respect to the Enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the 2004 Discipline in the Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

An annual conference’s definition of “status” does not affect the enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the 2004 Discipline. The refusal of an annual conference to define “practicing” or “practicing homosexual” does not void or violate the enforceability of ¶ 304.3. The decisions of law of Bishop Beverly J. Shamana are affirmed.

Statement of Facts

During a regular session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, the conference adopted various action items. Item 26 was entitled “Recommendation Regarding Defining the Word ‘Status’ as defined by the Book of Discipline 2004,” which embodied the following results:

Item 26: The California-Nevada Annual Conference hereby defines the word “status” as including sexual orientation such as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered. Item 27: The California-Nevada Annual Conference hereby specifically refuses and declines to define the word “practicing” or Practicing homosexual.”
After the resolutions were adopted, a member of the annual conference requested a ruling of law from Bishop Beverly J. Shamana on the following questions:
1. Does our adoption of Item 26 defining “status” void, violate or otherwise pre-empt the force of law of ¶ 304.3 in the 2004 Book of Discipline? 2. Is the definition of “status” as adopted in Item 26 sufficiently overbroad as to render it ambiguous, unenforceable and/or violation of the principles of due process? 3. Does our refusal to define “practicing” in Item 27 void and/or violate the enforcement or enforceability of ¶ 304.3 in the 2004 Book of Discipline in the California Nevada Annual Conference. 4. Since “Self-Avowed practicing homosexual” is defined in footnote 1 on page 197 in the 2004 Book of Discipline, is Item 27 legal?
The Bishop took the requests under advisement and delivered her rulings in writing within the time prescribed by ¶ 2609. In response to Question 1, the Bishop ruled that the adoption of Item 26 defining status does not violate or otherwise pre-empt the force of law of ¶ 304.3 of the 2004 Discipline. The Bishop ruled that Questions 2 and 4 are moot. The Bishop ruled in response to Question 3 that the refusal of the Annual Conference to define “practicing” does not void and/or violate the enforcement or enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the Discipline.
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609 of the 2004 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The Judicial Council held in Decision 702 that the task of definition of the word “status” must be undertaken by the General Conference or the various annual conferences. While the General Conference could define terms one way, we can foresee that the various annual conferences could adopt differing definitions. Regardless of whether there may be one definition or many, no such definition may void, violate or otherwise pre-empt the force of law of ¶ 304.3 of the Discipline. The Bishop’s decision of law for Question 1 is affirmed. Question 3 concerns the annual conference’s refusal to define the word “practicing” or “practicing homosexual.” An annual conference may not adopt any item that purports to void and/or violate the enforcement or enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the Discipline. Refusal to define has no effect on the enforceability of ¶304.3. The Bishop’s decision of law for Question 3 is affirmed. The bishop’s decision of law ruling that Questions 2 and 4 are moot is affirmed.
Decision
An annual conference’s definition of “status” does not affect the enforceability of ¶ 304.3 of the 2004 Discipline. The refusal of an annual conference to define “practicing” or “practicing homosexual” does not void or violate the enforceability of ¶ 304.3. The decisions of law of Bishop Beverly J. Shamana are affirmed. October 29, 2005 Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent.

Decision

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