From the Washington Post:
The Episcopal Church approves religious weddings for gay couples after controversial debate
The bishops of the Episcopal Church have authorized their clergy to perform same-sex weddings, but don’t expect sweeping changes across the entire denomination anytime soon. Episcopalians voted Wednesday to allow religious weddings for gay couples, but not every priest will necessarily officiate at a same-sex wedding.
In resolutions adopted here at the denomination’s General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City this week, the bishops have endorsed new liturgies or services for same-sex couples wishing to marry in church. The bishops also approved changing the church’s canons, or rules, governing marriage, making them gender neutral by substituting the terms “man and woman” with “couple.” However, clergy were also given the right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, with the promise they would incur no penalty, while bishops were given the right to refuse to allow the services to take place in their diocese.
via – The Washington Post.
As the USA Supreme Court was handing down its ruling that institutes marriage equality across all 50 states, the bishops of the Episcopal Church were already gathered for their triennial General Convention from Thursday, June 25, until Friday, July 3. Sometime next week, they too will take a decision on whether to approve gay marriage.
Episcopalians have a strong progressive record on inclusion, so the chances are good. The Church has already approved a liturgical rite for use in same – sex blessing ceremonies. Even before the rite was formally approved in 2012, some bishops were already approving blessing services in their dioceses. Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, told Mlive that he did so three years before that. Ousley notes that in the three years since 2012, the landscape has changed dramatically. Many bishops have already allowed this rite to be used for marriage services, in states where the law allows. Even years before the rite was approved, two senior women priests where married in Boston’s cathedral. When New York state approved same – sex marriage legislation, some of their bishops instructed priest in same – sex partnerships to either get married, or end the relationships. When the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Defence of Marriage Act in Windsor, the Washington Cathedral rang its bells in celebration. It’s likely that across the USA, many churches will be celebrating the court’s ruling today.
The landscape has changed even more dramatically today, with same – sex marriage now approved in secular law, across the USA. We wait now, to see if the bishops’ decision next week is in step with the country, and the court.
In North Carolina, the United Church of Christ has launched a legal challenge to the state ban on gay marriage, because it limits their religious freedom to decide which couples it may bless in marriage.
Also in the South, United Church clergy have joined with Methodist and other religious leaders in a coalition to support gay marriage – because they are Christians, not in spite of it.
Oklahoma faith leaders form coalition supporting marriage equality
More than 50 Oklahoma faith leaders have formed a coalition in support of marriage rights for all couples, whether gay or straight.The Oklahoma Faith Leaders for Marriage group includes leaders of congregations of Mennonites, United Methodists, Unitarians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ and at least one Baptist minister and two rabbis.
Standing in the sanctuary of Church of the Open Arms, Kenny Wright and Bo Bass are an Oklahoma City gay couple who say they will get married in Oklahoma if the state’s same-sex marriage ban is overturned. Photo by Jim Beckel, The OklahomanThe United Methodist and United Church of Christ denominations have the most coalition representation, with at least eight United Methodist clergy and at least eight United Church of Christ ministers among the faith network’s members.“Expanding marriage equality will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care — and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community,” the coalition said in a statement released after its April launch.
-More at News OK.
A more accurate title might be “Bishop of Chicago Continues to Step Up For Marriage Equality” because Bishop Jeffrey Lee has been such a consistent and valiant ally for equality both inside and outside the church. But the particular moment of “stepping up” I’m celebrating today was one that came out of his willingness to step up with a letter of support for marriage equality in Illinois — a letter that made the national news reporting on the legislation as it winds its way through the legislative process.
It was a moment of great delight as I sat on my day off happily having my second cup of day off coffee and watching a second hour of day off morning news to see this quote from Bishop Lee pop up on an MSNBC report. And thanks to the “rewind/pause” feature on my remote control and an iPhone camera hard-by and VOILA: the moment was “screen captured!”
My actual favorite quote from the letter was this one:
As a Christian, I believe that our society needs all of the sources and signs of grace that we can get. As a citizen of the United States, I believe in equal protection under the law. I believe that both ends will be served when marriage equality is the law of the land in Illinois, and I am grateful to be bishop in a church that offers all couples a community of faith, love, support and accountability.
Does it matter if a bishop speaks out on the issue of civil marriage equality? You bet it does. It matters to those in Illinois who will be speaking to their representatives in letters, calls and emails that they can say their faith tradition stands for equality for all.
via Rev. Susan Russell