In a huge victory for LGBT rights, the Washington Nationalá Cathedral will now host gay marriage ceremonies. The breakthrough on this hotly-contested issue came several months ago “when the Episcopal Church approved a ceremony for same-sex unions…in states where gay marriage is legal” (Huffington Post).
However, the Episcopal Church still defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and will use new language prepared specially for same-sex unions instead of the traditional marriage ceremony. The United Church of Christ is the only major Protestant group in the United States to have endorsed gay marriage as equivalent to heterosexual marriage.
Nevertheless, the Episcopal Church is ready and willing to open their doors to gay couples seeking marriage ceremonies. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, a same-sex marriage activist and the dean of Washington National Cathedral said, “As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation’s capital, by saying we’re going to bless same-sex marriages…we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the culture.”
Other LGBT victories in religious spaces
Where else have LGBT rights activists achieved huge victories, in some of the most hostile spaces? One recent example that comes to mind is the Anglican Church’s decision to allow priests in same-sex, celibate relationships to become bishops. While they still must be celibate, as the Church believes that “homosexual genital acts fall short of the Christian ideal,” the priests’ relationships are validated and respected within the church.
As mentioned before, the United Church of Christ allows pastors to perform same sex marriages and passed a resolution affirming “equal marriage rights for all regardless of gender” in 2005.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted in 2009 to allow people in monogamous, committed same sex relationships to become members of the clergy, a decision that was contested by many individual congregations. Since August 2009, more than 600 congregations have left the ELCA in protest over the organization’s public attitude toward gay marriage.
Does your church support gay marriage?
As the movement to make gay marriage legal across the United States grows more powerful, the LGBT community has made great strides even in environments that may have initially been the most hostile towards them. How is gay marriage viewed in your church? Are homosexual men or women permitted to become members of the clergy? How has this inclusiveness affected your congregation and your feelings about religion? Or, conversely, how do you feel if your church or a church in your community actively discourages gay marriage? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo credit: Jose Antonio Navas