About 40 Minnesota United Methodist clergy have resolved to marry gay and lesbian couples in violation of the church's stance, the Star-Tribune reported.

Reverend Bruce Robbins of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis invited clergy to sign on to a statement during the Methodists' annual conference in St. Cloud this week.

Minnesota lawmakers last month approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state, sending it to voters for their approval in 2012.

“Groups have been meeting who want to challenge parts of the United Methodist polity with which we disagree – that which relates to the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community and Christian marriage,” Robbins said.

“We feel it's especially important at this time because it's a large issue within the state as well [as] because of the [proposed] constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage of all people,” Robbins told radio station WJON.

Clergy who officiate over a gay or lesbian wedding face losing their church credentials. However, signing onto the statement itself does not break church rules.