Today Judge Veldhuizen ruled- or should we say barely ruled in the case of fired Pastor Ecclesia de Lange. See our earlier articles here.
The lesbian minister who was fired because of her marriage to another woman has lost her court battle to be reinstated by the Methodist Church, but the case has been reverted back to arbitration.
While Judge Anton Veldhuizen dismissed Ecclesia de Lange’s application with legal costs in the Western Cape High Court, finding that it was “premature”, he said the dispute should first go for arbitration.
Ordained as a minister of the church in 2006, De Lange, 43, was suspended in December 2009, a few days after making an announcement to one of the church’s congregations about her intended marriage to her partner.
Following a disciplinary hearing, she was suspended until such time as the Methodist Church of Southern Africa made a binding decision on ministers in same-sex unions.
She was subsequently “discontinued” from the ministry, according to the church.
The church has been deliberating on the issue of gay marriage for 13 years and is yet to make a decision.
In a nutshell and in summary:
1. Application to High Court is premature
2. Matter referred back to arbitration
3. Matter dismissed with costs
A feeling of betrayal seemed to overwhelm the Ecclesia de Lange supporters in court today, particularly because of the second point two above. The flawed and unfair precedent set in the original arbitration, along with the unrealistic delays by the MCSA means another long and uphill battle for Ecclesia if she follows that route. The chances of getting an unbiased arbitrator, of fair representation, of reasonable time allocations and more are all to be considered.
Organizers of the de Lange campaign Mike Luppnow commented: “Friends, on a personal note, be encouraged. As activists of this cause we planned in anticipation of such an outcome and will return to strategis\ze the way ahead. One thing remains clear: we will not and could not walk another step without your support of love and resources, encouragement and wisdom. Stay connected!”
Please stay tuned.