Discrimination | Gay Marriage | Religion

Episcopal Church May Soon Bless Same-Sex Marriages

EpisChurchGood news out of the Episcopal Church, via The Los Angeles Times:

Sixteen years after allowing gays and lesbians to become priests, the Episcopal Church appears poised to introduce a rite that would specifically bless the unions of same-sex couples.

If the liturgy is approved, which is expected, Episcopalians will become the first major denomination to endorse such a ritual for homosexual couples.

On its face, the blessing seems similar to that of a marriage rite -- including “I do,” “we have gathered together today” and an exchange of rings. Notably absent are the words “husband,” “wife” and “marriage.”

The committee says that while the liturgy is not called "marriage," there are "significant parallels." A hearing on the liturgy will be held on Saturday, but no vote is set as of yet.

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  1. To clarify...the proposed rite is to be used only as a blessing and it is unlikely that given Church structure that the Episcopal Church will redefine matrimony as something other than opposite sex for another 3 to 6 years. However this is a start and the Episcopal Church is headed in the direction of sacramental marriage equality.

    Posted by: Keith | Jul 5, 2012 8:36:39 PM

  2. Yes, this is similar to the ceremony that the Church of England uses for other marriages it doesn't entirely approve of...like the marriages of divorced people (famous ones, anyway, like Prince Charles and Camilla).

    So it's *something*, but not entirely a nice *something*.

    Posted by: Vint | Jul 5, 2012 8:57:59 PM

  3. They would not be the first major denomination to do this. The United Church of Christ already endorsed same-sex marriage and created a liturgy for it in 2005.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 5, 2012 9:02:00 PM

  4. And in most States, they (so far) cannot perform a legal marriage, so I am OK with them not calling it marriage for now.

    Posted by: Bob | Jul 5, 2012 9:44:14 PM

  5. Honestly, I don't give a damn whether any church in the world does or doesn't perform marriage ceremonies. I just want governments around the world to recognize our right to a civil marriage and all the legal protections/benefits/privileges that accompany it. Announcements from churches at this point just muddy the water, in my opinion.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 5, 2012 10:06:09 PM

  6. Blessings are not the same as the full religious marriage rite. The Episcopal Church would still not allow same-sex couples to use the "Celebration and blessing of a marriage" in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Same-sex couples would still be second-class members of the club.

    The United Church of Christ already has opened religious marriage to all couples, regardless of the legal sex of the spouses. UCC congregations may do their own thing. The United Church of Christ also endorsed full civil marriage equality in 2005 at its General Synod.

    Churches are free to call anything a marriage for purposes of religion, as the Riverside Church in Manhattan did for years before June 2011, when New York State passed a civil marriage equality bill.

    Religious and civil marriage are different but it can help sway people to support civil marriage equality if mainline denominations come out of the closet in their support for same-sex couples.

    I believe the Episcopal Church should go directly for opening religious marriage for all and not waste time with blessings.

    The blessings, if adopted, would still be subject to a veto by a diocesan bishop. Congregations in a diocese with a conservative bishop would not be able to bless same-sex couples.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

    Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert | Jul 5, 2012 10:25:02 PM

  7. The local rector of the Episcopal Church asked me, as a United Church of Christ minister, to help him marry a gay couple in the church this past year. He blessed the couple and I presided at saying of the vows and signed the marriage license. But it was a gay marriage held in an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of CT. Unfortunately, his bishop would not allow him to do the marriage alone.

    Posted by: Fred | Jul 5, 2012 10:25:26 PM

  8. A small step but a cool one! That being said, it's up to individual religions to decide whether or not they will recognize or sanctify gay marriages. That's their prerogative, just like it's mine to not be a member of non-accepting religions/denominations.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 5, 2012 10:51:46 PM

  9. Too little, too late. The tide of human progress has turned irreversibly against the Church.

    Posted by: rob | Jul 5, 2012 11:07:10 PM

  10. Exposing bigotry with the bible :

    Hatred is the greatest sin which goes against the greatest commandments of Christ. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ has clearly mentioned that the way to have eternal life for his followers is through his commandments to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. He has mentioned that those laws are above all other biblical laws of any other prophets.

    Homophobes promoting hatred are antiChrist who do not believe or pretend to believe in Jesus Christ but do not acknowledge Christ's commandments to love God and to love thy neighbor as thyself, to be the highest of all biblical laws. The antiChrist, like the devil, is a master of quoting biblical verses except those 2 top commandments of love from Christ, they avoid using Christ's name but use other names, even 'God', to bring all sort of biblical verses or 'facts', to lie and to prove their justification to hate. AntiChrist deceive people that those 2 commandments of love were not above all laws for Christians, and they are around in many organizations pretending to be of 'religious' faith.

    The issue of homosexuality, same sex marriage and many other issues (sexual/non sexual) are different forms of a test of the Christian faith on that choice of who they really believe in the end, to love (Christ and His greatest commandments) or to hate (succumb to temptation of verses NOT from Christ's greatest commandments to justify their hatred).

    Posted by: Simon | Jul 5, 2012 11:23:53 PM

  11. If gay people stopped going to church and stopped giving churches money they would ALL change their policies. They are ALL ABOUT MONEY !

    When the Catholic church in England refused to remarry anyone who had been divorced, divorcees went to Church of England churches who gladly took their money and married them. When the Catholic church realized they were losing this money to other religions they changed their policy and now divorced people can be married in a Catholic church.

    WAKE UP people ! Religions are ALL about money. Nothing else. Boycott them and policies will change.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jul 5, 2012 11:35:54 PM

  12. Craven equivocation. Man up.

    Posted by: David R. | Jul 5, 2012 11:39:01 PM

  13. Separate but equal- why thanks. Grim, irrelevant institution whose approval couldn't mean less to me.

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 5, 2012 11:43:49 PM

  14. Don't believe everything you read in the LA Times or in an Episcopal press release. The claim that the Episcopal Church would be "the first major denomination to endorse a marriage ritual" is simply not true. The United Church of Christ, did that years ago and UCC clergy have been performing same gender weddings (not just "blessing" same gender couples)for years using such liturgies. Playing "catch up" is never easy. Sadly, the Episcopal Church is still pussyfooting toward marriage equality.

    Posted by: Elangay | Jul 5, 2012 11:57:26 PM

  15. Amen!

    Posted by: Ciao9999 | Jul 6, 2012 12:12:45 AM

  16. The United Church of Christ denomination has been blessing full-out gay marriage since 2005

    Posted by: reality | Jul 6, 2012 12:23:47 AM

  17. Screw their blessings, screw anybody's blessing. The only blessing you need is the love you give to one another. That's a blessing. Equal rights, now that's worth something and must be won.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 6, 2012 1:42:09 AM

  18. Just take the marriage rite and change a few pronouns -- that's all that's necessary. Progressive Episcopal bishops will allow just that. Anything else is not enough.

    Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 6, 2012 7:29:51 AM

  19. @ Anonymous: I think a lot of priests have been doing that for gay couples in their parishes for a while now. AS for progressive bishops, they would (in most cases) prefer not to be put in the position of "allowing" it; the Anglican way is to take no notice of it unless someone formally complains--either to the bishop or to the standing committee of the diocese and then presentments brought against the "offending" priest. But I've never heard of that happening; though I've heard of priests hearing vows of gay couples for over two decades now. As to the nature of the ceremony, the couple are, themselves, the proper ministers of the sacrament, i.e., they bestow the sacrament upon one another. The priest is there--as in all marriages--as the church's witness to the vows, and, after the vows are exchanged, to bless the union. The same thing is indicated by the Episcopal ceremony to bless same-sex unions. Therefore, "ontologically" the sacramental act is the same for gay or straight couples, and the priest blesses either type.

    Posted by: Danny in the East Village | Jul 6, 2012 9:59:53 AM

  20. Religion is the enemy.

    Marriage is a very backward way of partnering.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Jul 6, 2012 1:08:23 PM

  21. The Episcopal Church would not be the first major mainstream Christian denomination to have full Christian marriage equality. The United Church of Christ (the second oldest Christian denomination in then nation after the Episcopalians) has married same-sex couples and different-sex couples equally for decades. Check them out at ucc.org.

    Posted by: DB | Jul 6, 2012 1:11:14 PM

  22. The Anglican Church [Episcopal in the U.S.] is being ripped apart by this issue.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 6, 2012 8:29:12 PM

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