In a message from Dean Gary Hall forwarded to We Love DC, the National Cathedral announced to members late yesterday that they would begin to hold same-sex wedding ceremonies in the main sanctuary of the church:
It is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God—and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation.
Consistent with the canons of the Episcopal Church, the Cathedral will begin celebrating same-sex marriage ceremonies using a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony approved in August 2012 by the Church at its General Convention. That approval allowed for the bishops who oversee each diocese within the Church to decide whether or not to allow the rite’s use or to allow celebration of same-sex marriage. In light of the legality of civil marriage for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia and Maryland, Bishop Mariann Budde announced last month that the diocese would now allow this expansion of the sacrament, which then led to my decision for the Cathedral’s adaptation of the same-sex rite.
The Church does limit who may be married at the Cathedral by policy:
All weddings at the Cathedral are conducted as Christian marriages in which the couple commits to lifelong faithfulness, love, forbearance, and mutual comfort. At least one person in the couple, therefore, must have been baptized. Only couples directly affiliated with the life of the Cathedral—as active, contributing members of the congregation; as alumni or alumnae of the Cathedral schools; as individuals who have made significant volunteer or donor contributions over a period of time; or those judged to have played an exceptional role in the life of the nation—are eligible to be married at the Cathedral.
We welcome this news, and are encouraged by the tolerance and understanding that the Episcopal church in the District is demonstrating.
Some things to remember:
1: None of the legal benefits of marriage come from the church, they come from government.
2: Couples have never needed a church’s approval to obtain a marriage license.
3: Churches will never be compelled to provide ceremonies for Gay couples, any more than they are compelled to provide ceremonies for Atheist or Jewish or Muslim couples.
4: While most churches will probably be unwilling to cater to Gay couples, there are plenty of churches that are more welcoming. On the happiest day of their lives, no Gay couple will be interested in having a wedding in a place where they are met with hostility. Fortunately the Episcopal Church welcomes Gay couples.
Chuck, all of your points are valid, but this is a really important step on the continuum toward full equality, especially because it’s happening at such a nationally symbolic house of worship. I’m thrilled to hear this news.
Genie, my comments are meant to ease the fears of those who think churches will be “forced” to marry Gay couples. Churches have never been forced to marry anyone. And I agree with you: This is a very important step in the marriage equality movement.
Great article, searching for that exactly.
Thank you for this act of love, tolerance, and acknowledgement of the importance of marriage in all people’s lives whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. God loves us all and I appreciate your actions on this matter not just your words. Thank you!