Wisconsin lesbian minister could be removed from clergy

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A lesbian minister in the US state of Wisconsin is to appear before a church trial.

Rev Amy DeLong will face charges after she presided over a 2009 ceremony for a lesbian couple and registered her own 15-year relationship as a domestic partnership.

She will appear before a United Methodist Church panel, despite that same panel praising her “extraordinary courage” and criticising church laws around same-sex couples.

Rev DeLong, of Osceola, in northwestern Wisconsin, says she knew the risks of her actions but said she wanted to “help the church to be true to its proclamations”.

In a statement, the church panel appeared to regret the decision to charge her but said it had to abide by church laws. It said that the charges were “fundamentally unjust”.

The United Methodist Church does not allow blessings for same-sex couples. It also has a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gay clergy, allowing them to serve only if they are celibate or do not reveal they are gay.

According to the Pioneer Press, the panel said in a statement: “The committee fears that the United Methodist Church … is at grave risk of forever losing the infinite talents, gifts and grace that gay and lesbian clergy bring to make the [church] a better, stronger, more vibrant place.”

Rev DeLong could be defrocked over the charges – or face punishment as lenient as a day’s suspension.

Thirty-two retired bishops have signed a letter urging the church to allow “self-proclaimed practicing homosexuals” to serve as ministers.

The letter does not mention Rev DeLong but is understood to have been inspired by her case.