Alex Blaze

Episcopalians will now officiate same-sex marriages in church

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 30, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Anglican, Anglican communion, bisexual, Episcopal Church, gay marriage, gay-friendly, homophobic behavior, lesbian, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, religion, same-sex marriage, transgender

The Eastern Massachusetts diocese of the Episcopal Church is now allowing priests to officiate same-sex weddings:

Five years after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts, the local Episcopal bishop yesterday gave permission for priests in Eastern Massachusetts to officiate at same-sex weddings.[...]

"The time has come,'' Shaw said in a telephone interview. "It's time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world.''

Shaw's move comes after not just his own change of heart, but also a resolution passed by the diocesan convention asking him to change the rules regarding same-sex weddings. Priests were allowed to bless same-sex unions, but they weren't allowed to actually sign the marriage licenses. Instead, same-sex couples had to go to a justice of the peace to get that done (which, by the way, sounds like a great system for everyone, much like the system many Latin American and European countries made because putting clergy in charge of officiating legal documents is generally considered offensive in secular society).

This move shows that the Episcopal Church is, like everyone else, following its congregants. Support for same-sex marriage has increased over the last few years in Massachusetts, and folks who didn't like it left the Diocese:

There are relatively few vocal critics of same-sex marriage left in the local Episcopal Church because many conservatives have left the denomination to form or join alternative Anglican congregations. Significant portions of parishes in Attleboro, Franklin, Hamilton/Wenham, Marlborough, and West Newbury have now left the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, a development that Shaw calls "a tragedy.''

But the Church itself has taken a clear side in what should be a non-controversy, which means that they don't have any other direction to go in just yet.

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Yeah, the conservative "literalists" have left the Episcopalians. That's the big divide we spoke of on one of your previous posts regarding religion.

Hear, hear. It's so important to recognize the risks that the more progressive Christian denominations are facing as they move to embrace full equality, and to praise them for each positive step. It's unfortunate that so many of us have so absorbed the message for so long that Christianity is anti-gay that we don't see the openness right before our eyes, and yet there's no need to continue to dwell in a self-defeating and depressing victimized-by-religion stance.

Congrats to the Episcopalians! Wonder when the license to sign marriage certificates will spread nationwide (where allowed by law, of course!)...