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Osceola priest suspended 20 days by UMC court

KAUKAUNA - A Wisconsin Methodist minister was suspended for 20 days yesterday for marrying a lesbian couple in 2009. The Reverend Amy DeLong of Osceola was also ordered to write a report on issues that harm the United Methodist clergy covenant, and to have it presented at the church's Wisconsin conference next summer. If it's not presented, DeLong will be suspended for a year.

A jury of 13 ministers ordered DeLong's penalty late yesterday in Kaukauna, where a church trial had been held since Tuesday. The 44-year-old DeLong was found guilty of violating church laws against marrying same-sex couples. A church prosecutor wanted DeLong to be suspended indefinitely until she signed an agreement never to perform another same-sex wedding. But DeLong told reporters she'd never sign such a thing.

Methodists throughout the country were watching the trial - and one group said DeLong's punishment indicates that the church won't end its ban on holding same-sex weddings any time soon. Pastors in several states have signed documents opposing the conservative policy. DeLong was also found innocent of being a practicing homosexual. She entered into a domestic partnership in Polk County in 2009, but the jury found no evidence that she had lesbian sexual contact during her time as a minister.