The full convention of the Episcopal Church has voted in favor of transgender nondiscrimination, while church leaders have also advanced liturgy for the blessing of same-sex partnerships.
In a separate vote Monday, the full convention approved new anti-discrimination language for transgendered clergy candidates and church members. Some dioceses already ordain transgendered people or elect them to positions of parish leadership. However, advocates for the amendment argued they needed an explicit statement of acceptance as the churchwide policy.
The Rev. Carla Robinson, who is transgendered and a vicar of All Saints Church in Seattle, said she was lucky to have the backing of parishes and bishops when she was considering ordination, but she said others haven’t had the same support.
“I stand here as a priest today because my diocese specifically said that my gender identity and expression didn’t disqualify me from the discernment process,” Robinson said from the floor of the convention. “I ask that as a church we do the same for my trans sisters and brothers.”
The House of Bishops, convening at the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, also voted to advance a new liturgy, called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” that would allow clergy, at their discretion, to bless same-sex unions. The Episcopal Church does not yet recognize same-sex marriage but has given great deference to individual clergy who do wish to bless those unions and has allowed them to do so. The new liturgy, then, would offer a standardized blessing in a way that had not before been available.
The decision, passed 111 to 41 with three abstentions. The new liturgy could go into force as early as December.
This would position the Episcopal Church to continue to lead the way in LGBT-acceptance.
The Anglican Church is currently struggling with issues surrounding the ordination of gay clergy and women, practices the Episcopal Church also allows.