Clergy finds Wisconsin pastor guilty of marrying gaysMethodist pastors who have increasingly defied a church ban on marrying gays were dealt a setback Wednesday when a colleague was found guilty in a church trial of marrying a lesbian couple in 2009.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Methodist pastors who have increasingly defied a church ban on marrying gays were dealt a setback Wednesday when a colleague was found guilty in a church trial of marrying a lesbian couple in 2009.
A 13-person jury of clergy peers unanimously convicted The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola. The jury found the 44-year-old not guilty of a second charge of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual." That vote was 12-1.
After the verdicts were announced Wednesday afternoon, church officials began hearing a second round of testimony to help jurors recommend a penalty that could range from suspension to defrocking. At least five DeLong supporters were scheduled to testify.
Efforts to reach DeLong by phone were not immediately successful.
"I'm sure it was very difficult for the jury to deliberate on both charges," the Rev. Bruce Robbins, a DeLong supporter, told The Associated Press. "I'm not surprised, though. I've been listening to the jury instructions and I'm not sure how the jury could have come to a different conclusion."
A message left with a church spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
Robbins, of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, is one of several Methodist leaders across the country encouraging his colleagues to disobey the church ban on marrying gays. The efforts have gained momentum, as hundreds of pastors from areas including Illinois, Minnesota, New York and New England signed statements in recent weeks asserting their willingness to defy the rule.