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By Jeff Walton

Following the first vote of the day on homosexuality, protesters have begun demonstrating on the floor of General Conference. This is the second time this General Conference – the first followed Wednesday’s vote on divestment.

When the General Conference convened last week, one of the first delegates to speak moved that protests not be allowed onto the floor without a vote from delegates to receive them. The motion was dropped when it was established that the rules already prohibit anyone but delegates “inside the bar” (the voting/speaking area) without such a vote.

This morning’s disruption of proceedings reveals that, once again, the bishops presiding over the floor are unwilling to enforce the rules. The latter half of the morning session was dismissed early after protesters refused to leave the floor. The legislative session will resume at 2 p.m., and only delegates are to be permitted in the room, “absolutely no visitors of any kind.” it remains unclear if credentialed media will be permitted back to the media box. [Update: during the lunch recess, bishops decided to keep the session open to all]

Twice today I have been approached by Central Conference Methodists from Africa and Europe who are upset about the bishops’ unwillingness to enforce the protest rules. The Africans who spoke with me were also upset that demonstrators at Wednesday’s legislative session disrupted a prayer.

Rules, unfortunately, mean little when the people charged with enforcing them look the other way.