US preacher suspended over lesbian wedding

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Leaders of the Reformed Church in America have suspended a New Jersey minister, ruling that he violated the denomination's teachings by officiating at the wedding of his daughter, a lesbian.

A majority of delegates voted to suspend the Rev Norman Kansfield from the ministry until he changes his views to fall in line with church doctrine. They also stripped him of his standing as a professor of theology in the church. Rev Kansfield, 65, who has served in the church for 40 years, said the decision was "going to be very hard to deal with - my life has been the ministry". He added: "The church of Jesus Christ needs to be as inclusive as the arms of our Lord himself."

He had performed the ceremony in Massachusetts in June 2004, shortly after it became the first state to permit same-sex marriages.

The case against Rev Kansfield, filed by dozens of church leaders, alleged he had acted intentionally against the teaching of the Bible and the church constitution when he officiated at the wedding of his 29-year-old daughter, Ann, and her girlfriend. The women met while studying to be ministers at Rev Kansfield's seminary. The minister had written to his seminary's board announcing his decision to officiate at the wedding and saying he would not be seeking permission to do so.

The Reformed Church in America, which dates back to the arrival of Dutch settlers in the 1600s, is one of the more conservative Protestant denominations.

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