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 2018-12-12
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

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

SHOWBIZ 'Rent,' Ariana Grande, Lena Waithe, Elton John 2018-12-11
DignityUSA condemns Pope Francis' book 2018-12-10
Gaylon Alcaraz on new job, activism and campaign lessons 2018-12-05
Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery make the yuletide swing 2018-12-04
Women & Children First Books plans holiday season events 2018-12-04
Affinity Community Services plans Burning Bowl 2018, will honor Kim Hunt 2018-12-04
Kahlo works at Glen Ellyn campus in 2020 2018-12-03
DignityUSA responds to Pope Francis' new book, excluding gay people 2018-12-03
Nia & Ness use dance, poetry to tell story, analyze identity 2018-11-26
Forum focuses on LGBT seniors' housing and legal rights 2018-11-21
Alyson Stoner, actress/singer/dancer talks Ms. Jackson, acting, coming out 2018-11-21
Activists protest pastor's removal of gay teen over his clothing choices 2018-11-21
Amy Ray, opener rock Old Town School 2018-11-19
Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Esposito and more at storytelling event 2018-11-18
Local minister ejects gay parishioner for wearing 'women's clothes' 2018-11-18
Christmas Bingo, It's a Ho-Ho-Holy Night 2018-11-16
Tom Volf talks Maria by Callas 2018-11-15
Trans Israeli activist speaks at Temple Sholom 2018-11-15
Competition aims to bring starter homes to working-class families 2018-11-14
Author Miriam Frank headlines CTU LGBTQIA+ event 2018-11-14
Nigerian activist in Glen Ellyn on Nov. 18 2018-11-14
THE AMAZON TRAIL Going to the doctor 2018-11-14
Tig Notaro adopts a new role in 'Instant Family' 2018-11-13
Amy Ray on new album, acceptance and rock 'n' roll 2018-11-12
Frida Kahlo works at Glen Ellyn campus in summer 2020 2018-11-09
Affinity event good as 'Gold' 2018-11-07
Sharice Davids Becomes First LGBTQ Member of Congress from Kansas 2018-11-06
First LGBTQ U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Defeats Anti-LGBTQ Opponent 2018-11-06
Marge Summit honored with award named for Jon-Henri Damski 2018-11-05
Jenna Laurenzo talks 'Lez Bomb' 2018-11-05
CELEBRATIONS Wanda B, Stephanie Green renew vows after 25 years 2018-10-31
pronoun talks about name, breakups 2018-10-31
ELECTIONS 2018 LGBT candidate Maggie Trevor takes on conservative incumbent 2018-10-31
Marge Summit to receive Jon-Henri Damski Award Nov. 4 2018-10-31
ELECTIONS 2018 Guide to the LGBTs 2018-10-31
Tree of Life vigil draws hundreds 2018-10-30
Queer singer Mary Lambert on her poetry collection 2018-10-29
Chicago Jewish groups kick off Keshet's LGBTQ inclusive Leadership Project 2018-10-29
The Dinah accepting artist applications 2018-10-29
Joan Jones on creating LGBTQ workers center, other endeavors 2018-10-24
 



Copyright © 2018 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 produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.