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Episcopal Church Expands Gay Marriage to All Dioceses even where Bishops Object

“The Episcopal Church’s General Convention passed a resolution… that expanded the right for gay couples to marry in all dioceses even where local bishops theologically object to same-sex marriage. At its triennial convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops and House of Deputies voted to approve resolution B012, allowing gay and lesbian couples to be married by clergy in eight dioceses that had previously not allowed marriage rites for same-sex couples.”

As the General Convention had previously voted in 2015 to allow clergy to marry same-sex couples, it also gave bishops who opposed gay marriage the right to forbid priests in their diocese from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Although the new resolution still gives clergy the right to decline gay marriage ceremonies, bishops who oppose of same-sex marriage rites will have to call on another bishop who does not oppose to provide pastoral support for the couple and the clergy member that will be involved in the ceremony. The new policy will go into effect on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2. The resolution is a compromise of an earlier proposal that would have put the new marriage liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer.

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“I think this is a really important moment for the church. We do this without there having to be one side wins and one side loses,” said Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano, who proposed the resolution.”

“Dallas Bishop George Sumner said the debate over expansion of gay marriage rites was like a “family argument” where the progressives tried to reach a compromise that would make the traditionalists in the diocese more comfortable. We’re probably more traditional than other dioceses in the Episcopal Church,” Sumner was quoted as saying. “The convention has given us a space to do that.”

And that’s the problem. Compromise never solves the problem. The issue will keep coming back as progressives push further and further. Making conservatives feel more comfortable is only a prelude to further advances.

“Activists who pushed the denomination to fully embrace same-sex marriage are calling the resolution a step in a positive direction. ‘I think it’s a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations,’ Connally Davies Penley, a member of a Tennessee grassroots group called All Sacraments for All People said.” 

A step in the right direction makes it clear that activists will not give up. They have more steps to take.

“William Love, the bishop of Albany, meanwhile, argued that the new resolution could possibly trigger a stark backlash similar to what the Episcopal Church faced in 2003 when it began consecrating openly gay bishops. ‘I’m concerned that when this passes, the floodgates are going to open once again, the bloodshed is going to open once again, the insidious lawsuits are going to continue once again,’ he said during the debate on the resolution.

The Episcopal is the American branch of the Anglican Church.

“Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot.” Luke 17:28.

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