Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Lesbian Wis. pastor talks about trial, suspension
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2011-07-06

This article shared 3545 times since Wed Jul 6, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


In Wisconsin, lesbian United Methodist minister the Rev. Amy DeLong recently received a 20-day suspension (that started July 1) for performing a same-sex wedding in 2009. (In addition, she was found not guilty of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual.") She was also required to write a document about dealing with issues that "create an adversarial spirit" within the church.

Windy City Times talked with DeLong, 44 (who was ordained in 1997), about the wedding, trial and punishment, and what came across was a woman who is loyal—to her religion but even more to her core beliefs.

Windy City Times: I want to talk about the 2009 wedding. When you performed it, you were aware of the rules and laws, correct?

Rev. Amy DeLong: Correct.

Windy City Times: So why did you choose to officiate?

DeLong: I know the rules of the church, but I feel that any rule that requires me to discriminate is not a rule I feel called to follow. When the couple approached me, I had decided a long time ago that, if I were approached, I would treat that request like any other request for a wedding—and that's what I did. I think of Dr. King, who wrote his letter from a Birmingham jail that we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. That's how I feel about discriminatory policies.

Windy City Times: There are no marriage equality or civil unions in Wisconsin, but domestic-partnership registries.

DeLong: Correct. The couple had filed for their registry and wanted a religious ceremony to accompany that.

Windy City Times: Moving on to the trial itself, how did you plead to the counts?

DeLong: I could only plead once, and I pled not guilty.

Windy City Times: What was your sense during the trial? Did it feel one-sided?

DeLong: No; it felt like we were given a very fair trial. It felt like we had mounted a solid and good defense, and we were fairly confident how it would play out—and that's how it did. That was our best-case scenario, and that's how it worked out. The bottom line is that the church was not able to provide evidence to convict me on both counts.

Windy City Times: Do you think the punishment is fair?

DeLong: I think it's more than fair. I think it gives us a great opportunity to be in dialogue. I've dedicated most of my ministry to trying to write and educate around issues of sexual orientation. The trial court punished me to teach and to write—and it actually feels like more of an honor. I think they were incredibly creative in their decision and I applaud them 100 percent.

Windy City Times: I understood the suspension as punishment—but when I saw they required you to write a document, I asked, "They gave her homework?"

DeLong: [Laughs] That's exactly right. I think it's an excellent opportunity. There are others who are working with me, and I hope they approach it with the same open spirit.

Windy City Times: What are your hopes for your denomination?

DeLong: Going into the trial, I said I had three goals or hopes. One was for me to tell the truth about who I am and what I've done. I knew that my relationship with my partner could not be placed second to my position to being in the ministry. That goal has been accomplished and will continue to be.

The second goal was that the church would be truthful to the proclamations it makes—that God's grace is sufficient, that there's nothing we need to do to earn God's love and that we're part of a denomination that puts limits and conditions on some of God's people simply because we're gay or lesbian. I think that goes against the very gospel of Jesus Christ.

The other hope I have, always, is that the next generation of LGBT Christians to not hear that they're somehow "less than." We know about the suicide rates among young gay people is three to four times higher than their heterosexual peers—and I think that's due in large part to the church sending such horrible messages. I think the trial let young people hear a different message—one of love and acceptance.

Windy City Times: So if another same-sex couple approached you about officiating a wedding, how would you respond?

DeLong: I would respond like I would with any couple. When I was in pastoral ministry, most weddings involved people I didn't know. It's the right of every clergy person to decide if that's a blessing they want to offer, and you do that by getting to know the couple.

The church council at the trial asked the trial court to suspend me indefinitely until I signed a document saying I would do no more holy unions. On the stand I said that's a document I would never sign. I would never sign a document that told me that I would categorically have to discriminate against people.

So I would get to know the [same-sex] couple and see if it is a union I would want to be involved in. If it is, I would do it without a moment's hesitation.

Windy City Times: Despite the fact that you would probably get a stiffer penalty, such as indefinite suspension?

DeLong: The answer is "yes." I just cannot, in good conscience, engage in that kind of discrimination. To know what it's like to feel that discrimination, there's no way I would do that to someone else. The law of the church gets trumped by compassion and love. That's the bottom line, despite the consequences.

Windy City Times: During the trial, did you ever second-guess being a minister—or did you always feel like this is your calling?

DeLong: I do feel like it's my calling to help change the church. There are people who ask, "Why don't you go to a church that's already open?" I don't know anybody who joins a church because they think everything about that organization is perfect. I've never heard anyone run for a school board saying, "I'm running for the school board because I want it to stay the way it is and everything they do is perfect."

Usually, you are part of an organization because you believe in it, you love it and you know it can be better than it is. I know that if there aren't those of us who are willing to stay in the system and risk our power and privilege to make it better, nothing will ever change. I love the church too much to let it be lost in repression and discrimination any longer. Also, I was a Girl Scout—and I was taught that you leave a place better than you found it.

When I took the covenant to enter into ordained ministry, I never once said that I would suppress or suspend my conscience. "Covenant" used to be such a beautiful word; now it seems that it's used as a hammer to keep gay people silent. A real covenant is based in love and faithfulness, and shouldn't cause us to abandon our own sense of right and wrong.

Windy City Times: Was there anything you wanted to add?

DeLong: The one thing is this idea that I was found not guilty of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual." What I am clear about is that I am partnered, I am lesbian and I'm in a covenanted, long-term, monogamous relationship. The church couldn't prove whether my partner and I have sexual contact, and I didn't answer the question—but not out of any sense of shame. I didn't answer because the shame is the church's for thinking it has a right to invade my privacy like that.


This article shared 3545 times since Wed Jul 6, 2011
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

OPALGA+ Scholarship Gala taking place Oct. 23
2021-09-21
The 2021 OPALGA+ (Oak Park Area Lesbian & Gay Association+) Scholarship Gala will take place Saturday, Oct. 23, at Nineteenth Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m., with the program/dinner ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Carl Bean dies, LGBT History Month, military events, Dykes on Bikes
2021-09-19
Archbishop Carl Bean—an openly gay former Motown singer, longtime AIDS activist and leader in the LGBTQ church movement—died at age 77, The New York Daily News reported. In a statement entitled "The Giant Sleeps," the Unity ...


Gay News

WORLD Germany's compensation, Lyra McKee, LGBTQ Afghans, tennis player
2021-09-19
Germany has compensated almost 250 people who were prosecuted or investigated under a Nazi-era law criminalizing homosexuality, according to euronews. By September, 317 people had applied for compensation for their ...


Gay News

Former bishop who pushed for LGBTQ+ inclusion dies at 90
2021-09-19
Retired Newark Bishop John Shelby Spong—a best-selling author and cleric known for his progressive theology and his support of women and LGBTQ+ clergy in The Episcopal Church—has died at age 90, Episcopal News Service reported. "It ...


Gay News

Affirming Powerhouse Church establishes permanent home in Chicago
2021-09-18
Powerhouse Church has come a long way in a decade. Out Pastor Keith McQueen recently told Windy City Times about the church's history. "We actually started in Indianapolis in 2012, and after a series of supernatural ...


Gay News

Pope again refuses to bless same-sex marriages
2021-09-18
Pope Francis told reporters recently on a return flight from Hungary that the Catholic Church is unable to bless same-sex marriages because marriage is a divine sacrament between a man and a woman, per The Advocate. ...


Gay News

Catholic theologians urge protections for LGBTQ+ people
2021-09-14
More than 750 of the nation's leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators and writers have joined New Ways Ministry in voicing support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, according to a New Ways press release. ...


Gay News

'Homophile' organization New Gay Liberation Front launches
2021-09-13
The New Gay Liberation Front—which described itself in a press release as a "homophile organization"—has launched. "Homophile" is a term that was used by some gay and lesbian groups in the 1950s. According to the University ...


Gay News

Constand breaks silence about Bill Cosby
2021-09-07
Bill Cosby accuser Andrea Constand is breaking her silence to NBC News about the comic/actor's release from prison two months ago, Deadline noted. In a brief clip, Constand tells Kate Snow she "was really shocked — ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Pioneering lesbian business owner Susan Mazer dies
2021-09-04
Susan Mazer died August 31 due to COVID-19 complications. She was 77. At the time of her death, Mazer was living in Port Saint Lucie, Florida with her wife Janet Norton. Mazer was born May 10, ...


Gay News

HIV AT 40: Global activist Phill Wilson talks Chicago, the '80s and vaccines
2021-09-01
Phill Wilson is one of the best-known HIV/AIDS activists/educators around the globe. The Chicago native was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. He ...


Gay News

TENNIS U.S. Open to celebrate Pride on Sept. 1
2021-08-28
Rainbow flags will be flying at the USTA (United States Tennis Association) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Wed., Sept. 1, as the USTA celebrates and welcomes the LGBTQ+ community to the first-ever Open Pride ...


Gay News

Report features eight Illinois child-welfare agencies working with HRC Foundation
2021-08-26
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new report ...


Gay News

ART 'Frida Kahlo: Timeless' extended to Sept. 12
2021-08-26
"Frida Kahlo: Timeless," hosted by the Cleve Carney Museum of Art (CCMA) and the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at the College of DuPage (COD), has been extended an additional week to Sept. 12. To date, "Timeless" ...


Gay News

WORLD Trapped in Afghanistan, lesbian pioneer, anti-gay crimes, Valencia's bid
2021-08-22
Among the Americans trapped in the suburban areas of Kabul, Afghanistan, under Taliban control was Josie Thomas, 32, a transgender government contractor for the U.S. State Department and former U.S. Air Force Sergeant, The Washington Blade ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.