By: Lauren Saccone
The Episcopal Church has approved an official liturgy for same-sex unions. On Tuesday, the church announced that their bishops would be able to bestow blessings upon same-sex couples. This decision has made the Episcopal Church the largest church in the United States to approve a rite for gay unions.
At the Episcopal General Convention on Tuesday, 78% of deputies votes in favor of authorizing the ceremonies. This decision will remain in effect for 3 years and comes on the heels of an announcement on Monday that the church approved a nondiscrimination policy that permits transgendered people to be ordained as priests.
The union of same sex couples can be performed regardless of whether gay marriage is legal in that particular state. Those church members who would prefer not perform the ceremonies will not be penalized. The decision isn't really that surprising. The Episcopal Church has a history of supporting the rights of gays and women. In 2003, the church consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in Anglican religion.
Those opposing the blessing wanted more time to consider the enormity of the policy. They worried making such a profound decision so quickly could have negative consequences for the church.
“Let us move together in the heart of Christ, not turn this big old church that I love so much on the dime,” said Reverend Sharon Lewis to MSNBC.
Despite some reluctance by members of the church, overall enthusiasm for the move has been high, with many believing that the move will help with recruitment of younger generations to join the church.
“It’s always with great pride that I tell of the inclusive nature of this Church,” Deputy Jenna Guy told reporters.
Although this movie qualifies as a huge step forward for organized religion in accepting homosexuality, Episcopal Church law still defines "marriage" as between a man and a woman. Bishops can begin using the liturgy on December 2.
[Pic via Flickr - William Klos]