Episcopal Church | Gay Marriage | Religion | Washington

Episcopals For Marriage Equality In Washington

Picture 21As the Washington State Senate voted in favor of marriage equality on Wednesday, it had the vocal support of a senior member of the Episcopal clergy.

Earlier this week, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, VIII Bishop of Olympia, posted the following to his blog:

It is expected that our Washington state legislators will very soon, perhaps even tomorrow begin floor deliberations on HB2516 & SB6239 with the Senate to begin.  Passage of these bills or a version of them would make same sex marriage law in our state.   Our Episcopal Church, after a long discussion about this over the years is poised to do roughly the same this summer at our General Convention.

While I am careful about wading into our legislator’s business, I would say this is the church’s business too.  I have a asked by many about my feelings on it, and I have decided to share them.  The ideas are not new,  I have shared them openly in the walk-abouts before becoming your bishop and in many venues before and since.

Christianity has held, when considering relationships of all sorts, but especially in relation to two people in marriage, fidelity to be our value.   Fidelity is the value in most all our sacraments and also in our life as Christians.

It seems to me we have held our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in a “catch-22″.  We say they cannot live up to our value because they cannot be married, or even blessed in their union.  While many of them have begged for this, it is still not possible.    What they ask of us, the church and the government, is to put boundaries around their relationship, to hold them in the same regard and with the same respect, which would also mean that we expect the same from them.  They are not asking for special treatment.  They are asking for equal treatment.   They are asking to be accountable, as a couple, in community.  To me, this is a conservative proposal.  I am for it, and I hope we will finally make way for this to happen, not only in our society, but also in our church.


The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel

As SeattlePi points out, allowing gay clergy to serve and straight clergy give voice to such opinions has cost the Episcopals buildings, lands, membership and money in the last decade. And it's still costing them -- one irate commentator on the Bishop's blog promises to ditch the church if marriage equality is enshrined in Washington law, as now looks likely.

As Andy reported, many Washington clerics are already plotting to reverse equality, should equality come. It's good to know the Rt. Rev.'s around to balance the scale.

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  1. "As SeattlePi points out, allowing gay clergy to serve and straight clergy give voice to such opinions has cost the Episcopals buildings, lands, membership and money in the last decade."

    Huh? What? Episcopal church property belongs to the diocese. Breakaway congregations have filed many lawsuits against the church in different states claiming that church property should follow the congregation. As far as I know, all such attempts have failed. So the above statement is just wrong.

    Posted by: Lileasy | Feb 5, 2012 10:59:01 AM

  2. Episcopalians, not Episcopals.

    Posted by: Jason | Feb 5, 2012 11:12:34 AM

  3. Lileasy: Thanks for reading. About ten months ago I wrote a large feature story for Gawker about gay Catholic priests, and I spoke with several former Episcopalians whose congregations had joined the Catholic church specifically to get away from the creeping sexual liberalism in their old denominations. They had been permitted to remain in their old buildings. That said, they may be paying rent. I think one of the people I spoke to was from this church ... http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/maryland-episcopal-parish-becomes-catholic-hopes-for-ordinariate/

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | Feb 5, 2012 11:24:00 AM

  4. I'm in Pittsburgh, and we've had a huge split over the issue of gay clergy. The majority of the parishes left and joined a diocese from South American and our former bigot of a bishop created a new church. After many years of lawsuits and appeals, the former parishes must give back all property since it belongs to the diocese, not the parish. We do still share the cathedral downtown, out of hospitality, with the new "Anglican Church of America," but I don't know how long that will go on.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 5, 2012 11:45:27 AM

  5. Here in the Diocese of VA, Mike, the same thing is going on. The churches that have aligned themselves with CANA must vacate the properties and return the operation of them to the Diocese. The Bishop indicated last week during the Annual Meeting we would not evict them, but work with them to ensure a smooth transition.

    That's hospitable.

    Posted by: Verdon Coleman | Feb 5, 2012 11:49:50 AM

  6. Brandon, one of the imbedded links is wrong. The text says, "As SeattlePi points out," but the link there takes you to the bishoprickel site, not to Seattle PI. A minor detail, but some readers (like me) might want to see what they have to say about it.

    Though I'm not religious (aka Atheist) it's good to see people like the Bishop speaking out. Frequently on gay news blogs Christians post defensive or even angry rebuttals that not ALL Christians are like the AFA, FOTF, et al and the article or comments are unfair to those sects and congregations that DON'T agree with those groups' rhetoric and tactics. But they don't DO anything about it, don't speak up, so it's they who are ALLOWING Christianity to be hijacked (in public perception anyway) by the Right. It's not enough to whisper among yourselves that you don't agree- you have to stand up and SAY it just as publicly as the homophobes have done, as Bishop Rickel is doing here.

    And there are several valid approaches to combating biblically-based homophobia and opposition to gay rights. Even though I'm atheist I've educated myself in some of them. Translation bias or errors is one, or pointing out that the Bible was also used to defend slavery (I've seen the written sermons) and to oppose rights for women and black people, to oppose interracial marriage, etc.

    So if you're NOT one of "those Christians" who are homophobic and punitive then STAND UP AND SAY SO or for all intents and purposes you ARE one of them because you allow them to define your faith unchallenged.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 5, 2012 12:38:16 PM

  7. Caliban: Sorry about that. Link fixed. Thanks!

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | Feb 5, 2012 1:26:42 PM

  8. Brandon: I, too, have to object to your use of "Episcopal" when you mean "Episcopalian." The former is an adjective the later is a noun. Otherwise, good coverage.

    Posted by: JT - the real one | Feb 5, 2012 2:06:34 PM

  9. Yes. It's "The Episcopal Church." Its members are known as "Episcopalians."

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Feb 5, 2012 2:12:56 PM

  10. @VERDON COLEMAN yeah, for a while they were aligned with the Province of the Southern Cone, now they just made their own church. Although if I remember correctly, they are recognized by Canterbury, which is weird, but again, hospitable.

    I also love the fact that we are discussing the proper grammar of the Church, sometimes it makes me smile. If you ever need a really good laugh, read the Amazon comments for the Book of Common Prayer or Hymnal 1982, some of the best internet arguing ever!

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 5, 2012 2:43:45 PM

  11. I'm very proud to be a cradle Episcopalian. Unfortunately, this schism goes back to the ordination of women and probably wont end for another generation. It's all very sad. Episcopalian Real Property is owned by the Diocese and not the Parrish. I think we've had two breakaway dioceses (San Joaquin and Orlando).

    Posted by: chasmader | Feb 5, 2012 2:49:46 PM

  12. Look at that guy...in his clown outfit. Earthlings, let's move it, you don't need this church or any other. Get a grip and figure out that each of you are sovereign unto yourselves and don't need anyone's OK to be who you are. Just sayin...

    Posted by: uffda | Feb 5, 2012 7:56:20 PM

  13. Bishop Greg, my bishop, does not take his "clown outfit" too seriously, and is quite self-effacing. What he, and by extension, the Diocese of Olympia of the Episcopal Church, take very seriously is how who we are and what we do brings justice to an unjust world. Not only would would we agree, Uffda, that it's OK to be who you are, there is no other option.

    Posted by: KJ | Feb 5, 2012 10:02:28 PM

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