For the first time in United Methodist history, the Council of Bishops has requested that a complaint be filed against a bishop. On November 15, the Council of Bishops requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the N. Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert (retired) for "undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple." Bishop Melvin Talbert performed a ceremony celebrating a same-sex union in Birmingham, Alabama on October 26. Church law states that "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."
Both the presiding bishop of the N. Alabama Area where the ceremony took place and the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops had requested that Bishop Talbert not perform the ceremony.
Under church law, the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction (where Bishop Talbert served until his retirement) have authority and accountability for processing complaints against a bishop. Bishop Elaine Stanovski (Mountain Sky Area) is president of the Western Jurisdiction's College of Bishops. It is unclear whether that group of bishops can fairly and objectively adjudicate this matter. In 2012, at Bishop Talbert's urging, the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction launched a so-called "Biblical Obedience" movement to encourage United Methodists to act as if the Book of Discipline's stance on homosexuality (Paragraph 161F) "does not exist."