First, the task force was explicitly diverse in opinion (from strong conservative to strong liberal), status (clergy and laity) and sexuality (including out GLBT people and people with GLBT family members). And, the membership was not secret during the year-long process.
Second, the report did not pretend to come to a clear conclusion on issues of scripture or theology. Rather, it honestly portrayed the different opinions in a point-counterpoint format, between traditional and "alternate" views. However, all members of the committee agreed to a consensus of recommendations:
The Task Force makes the following recommendations to the Bishop, the Diocesan Convention, and to clergy and parishes of the Diocese of San Diego:Those reporting at the Cathedral forum were clear that the task force had managed to unite as a community even while disagreeing, sometimes quite strongly. They also said that all participants, on either side of the divide, came away with a deeper understanding and respect for each other, even affection. It says in one part, we are convinced that our bonds of affection will be strengthened, not weakened, through diversity of belief and constructive engagement. As described, it sounds like a model for how to live with, and try to resolve, what they described as the "dynamic tension" on this issue, and that is the hope.
1. We encourage individual parishes and missions to study and discuss this report and to advise the Bishop of the character and outcome of their efforts.
2. We encourage our 2009 General Convention deputation to support measures that allow the exercise of an “option” to perform blessings of same-sex relationships, rather than measures that would direct such blessings to be performed or direct such blessings to be prohibited.
3. Should an “option” approach to the blessing of same-sex relationships be enacted by General Convention, we encourage our Bishop to put into place a process by which a church can discern if the blessing of same-sex relationships is appropriate to occur within its community.
4. In discussion of these questions, we encourage congregations to follow the guidelines for discussion adopted by our task force and included in the Appendix to this report.
- a. We encourage this discernment to include extensive study and discussion of the appropriate General Convention resolution, this Task Force report, and the effects of the decision on the spiritual life of the congregation.
- b. We also recommend against coercion or sanction that might be brought against any priest or congregation choosing to exercise or not to exercise such an option.
5. We encourage our Diocese and its congregations not to take any unilateral action that will knowingly further endanger the relationship of The Episcopal Church with the Anglican Communion.
6. We encourage our Diocese to advocate for changes at the State and Federal levels that grant domestic partnerships and civil unions the same legal rights and privileges as married couples, including the elimination of financial penalties for those who marry. In addition, we encourage our 2009 General Convention deputation to support resolutions that would commit The Episcopal Church to similar advocacy on these issues.
7. We encourage our Diocese to continue to advocate for equal protection under the law regarding domestic partnerships and civil marriages.
8. We encourage readers of this report to explore its bibliography, appendix, and references included in the endnotes with the intent of achieving a balanced view of the issues raised in these pages.
I urge you to read the whole report. It's really quite good.
From San Diego, no less. Who'd'a thunk?
Update Brought from the comments: some of you may not realize but San Diego's diocese is very conservative demographically. THis is a diocese that spans the 8th largest metro areas in the US, albeit a conservative one, and some of the most rural, conservative regions in California reaching all the way from the coast through Imperial County to Arizona. These are regions of the state that voted for Prop8 by a VERY large margin. Inotherwords, this ain't LA, not by a longshot. So this report being a consensus of conservatives and liberals is a Pretty Big Thing.