Friday, June 15, 2007 / 02:54 PM

A Lutheran congregation in San Francisco will ordain an openly gay partnered minister Saturday as part of a drive to equalize LGBTs within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Dawn Roginski's ordination at St. Francis Lutheran Church directly challenges the denomination's policy of requiring lifelong celibacy of its gay and lesbian clergy while imposing no such restrictions on its heterosexuals.

The ceremony will mark the third such challenge to the policy in eight months.

The ceremonies, which run outside the usual guidelines of Lutheran ordinations to certify the credentials of openly identified sexual minorities, are supported by the Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project.

Roginski made headlines in 2005 when she and partner Lisa Johnson successfully sued the state of Missouri to let them become foster parents.

Johnson is a child-development expert; Roginski was a youth chaplain with an undergraduate degree in psychology, a master's in counseling and a divinity degree.

Despite their picture-perfect credentials, the women were rejected by the Missouri Department of Social Services on the grounds that Johnston, the formal applicant, was not "of reputable character."

In February 2006, a county judge ruled that Missouri could not refuse the couple because of their homosexuality. The state dropped its appeal several months later.

Fourteen Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and two independent Lutheran congregations are now served by openly gay pastors who have gone through the Extraordinary Candidacy Project.

As it faces increased pressure to overturn the policy, the denomination will revisit the issue at its biennial assembly Aug. 6-11 in Chicago. (The Advocate)