Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-05
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

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

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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

High court punts on Lambda case of Oregon baker refusing cake to lesbian couple 2019-06-17
'Out at CHM' event explores current, past activism 2019-06-16
Lighthouse Church to host anti-racism forum on July 13 2019-06-13
COMEDY Hannah Gadsby pops into Chicago 2019-06-13
Progressive Reform Caucus announces new leaders 2019-06-12
Dignity president blasts anti-trans Vatican statement 2019-06-12
Community forum discusses Boystown experiences and solutions 2019-06-10
Vatican publishes anti-LGBT document 2019-06-10
'Dyke Delicious' series ends at Filmmakers 2019-06-09
'U.S. v. Windsor' airing June 10 2019-06-07
'LGBTQ+ Paths to Pregnancy' talk June 12 2019-06-05
Final Dyke Delicious screening, Stonewall Uprising, June 8 2019-06-05
'Tales' producer discusses return to 28 Barbary Lane 2019-06-05
Mayor keynotes Equality Illinois pride brunch 2019-06-02
Artemis Singers'Pride concert June 15 2019-06-01
Lesbian CEO speaks on challenges to rural economy 2019-05-24
Second City's Salute to Pride to Bring the Party to UP Comedy Club this June 2019-05-24
Celebration of Baim's 35 years in LGBTQ press benefits the work of Windy City Times 2019-05-24
Lightfoot signs first executive order 2019-05-21
Lightfoot sworn in as Chicago Mayor 2019-05-20
Van Ness, Gadsby at Chicago Theatre in June 2019-05-18
Honorary Pride Parade grand marshal named 2019-05-16
Lightfoot names senior staff, finance positions 2019-05-15
CEO to speak on food distribution issues 2019-05-14
WORLD Extremists charged, Virgin Mary controversy, Taiwan marriage bill 2019-05-14
SHOWBIZ Robin Roberts, 'Wicked Fun,' Fox shows, rock band Thunderpussy 2019-05-14
Majority of Public Favors Same-Sex Marriage, Divisions Persist 2019-05-14
Windy City Times fundraiser to mark co-founder's 35 years in LGBTQ media 2019-05-14
'Two Dykes and a Mic' on May 14-15 2019-05-13
WORLD Cuba cancels marches, 'gay panic' defense, lesbian UK politician 2019-05-07
LGBTQ military and veteran to hold D.C. gala 2019-05-07
Charlene Carruthers, adrienne maree brown featured in CHF discussion 2019-05-05
ART Magalie Guerin showing her unique art in Elmhurst 2019-05-05
Players named to third Women's World Cup Team 2019-05-02
FASHION Chicago lesbian offers unique jewelry, accessories 2019-05-02
Dr. Tonda Hughes talks 20 years studying queer women's health, future plans 2019-04-30
Chelsea Clinton among authors at Women & Children First Bookstore in May 2019-04-30
Deb Mell concedes aldermanic election 2019-04-29
Lightfoot inauguration details announced 2019-04-28
Boystown art gallery being sold 2019-04-26
 



Copyright © 2019 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

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

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.