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Lesbians tie knot outside Methodist conference in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH -- Two Methodist women from Chicago exchanged union vows Friday in a park near Fort Worth Convention Center, where earlier this week delegates at the United Methodist General Conference affirmed the church's stance that the practice of homosexuality is not biblical.

With a procession of about 200 supporters, Julie Bruno and Susan Laurie walked from the convention center to General Worth Square, singing "This Little Light of Mine."

The vows were administered by a layman, but a few members of the clergy were in the group applauding as the women, holding hands, stood in front of a communion table.

"Our faith grounds us; our church family grounds us," said Bruno, 47, a social worker, told the crowd. "The church continues to be both blessing and burden."

After the ceremony, Bruno and Laurie, who have been together for 25 years, served communion to the crowd.

Delegates' debates Tuesday and Wednesday were often emotional as the convention struggled over social issues. Ultimately, delegates voted by a wide margin against same-sex unions and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. Delegates supported the authority of pastors to withhold church membership from gay or others who are deemed not ready.

Nearly 1,000 delegates representing more than 11 million church members around the world wrapped up the 10-day quadrennial international conference Friday.