Our task will be to consult with representative deputies (two from each diocese; one lay/one clergy) on the resources we (the task forces charged with the task by the SCLM) have been gathering and developing in response to Resolution C056 ... passed in 2009 by General Convention and calling for "an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."....The plenary sessions can be watched live here. The SCLM committee has a blog here.
I think we have a chance to break new ground in Atlanta by modeling a transparent collaborative process involving the whole church in creating these resources in response to the church's request for them via C056.
A couple in a jurisdiction that allows SSM, and whose Bishop allows marriages (e.g., Massachusetts)-- why can't they use the BCP? Or a couple married in a civil jurisdiction who wants a blessing. There's already a BCP liturgy for "Blessing of a Civil Marriage". If the result of the consultation is a separate liturgy based on the gender identity of the couples, I think many will consider it a failure. The goal to be treated equally, and called to exactly the same standards and responsibilities as any straight couple.
If you read the comments following the first post on the SCLM blog, you'll find a number of very angry conservatives saying over and over again that our relationships can't be marriage and shouldn't be blessed. And what's really apparent is that they define our relationships as just one thing: a sexual act. That's all they think we have. They think we have nothing outside of the bedroom.
Now, it's clear marriage ≠ procreation. There's no test for fecundity, and there are many married couples who do not want, or cannot have, children. So, then, what defines marriage to the conservatives?
When they talk about straight marriage, they will invoke "complementarity" but what they really mean is --- sex! All they have to distinguish themselves is who puts what part where.
But what this is really all about is the proper role of women and men. One of the great revolutions in marriage is not just the ability to choose one's partner, but the equal division of labor between partners. (More here). The feminist movement made marriages much more likely to be partnerships, than rigidly defined roles (he as head of house, she faithfully serving him). As PJ Myers at Pharyngula wrote recently,
Now,if you ignore Myers' reflexive kneejerk religion bash elsewhere in the post, he's absolutely right here. And perhaps helps explain why the divorce rates are lowest in blue states like MA, where there are liberal feminists and gay married people, than in the traditional red states in the South.
If we strip marriage of the asymmetry of power, as we must if we allow men to marry men and women to marry women, then we also strip away the man and wife, dominant and submissive, owner and owned, master and servant relationship that characterizes the conservative view of marriage. This is what they want to preserve, and this is what they are talking about when people like Gingrich echo those tired phrases about "Judeo-Christian values" and complain that their "civilization is under attack". And it is, when we challenge their right to treat one partner, so-called, as chattel.
And once you look at it that way, you see no abuse of their values when Gingrich goes tomcatting around—he's simply asserting his traditional privilege as the Man.
Paradoxically, though, it turns marriage into a brittle business where women are stressed by subservience and oppression (believe it or not, women are human beings who might resent being treated as servants), and men feel it is their right possess any woman willing to surrender to them. It's not surprising that their relationships break up in courtroom battles.
But back to the SLCM. I hope that they will move towards realizing that we LGBT couples are in no way different in our calling or our desires from our straight brethren, and lay the groundwork for actual marriage.
In the meantime, in one of those little ironies, I'm in Atlanta right now on the final leg of my East coast business trip. Later today, I'll be zooming past the Atlanta Airport Hilton, where the meeting is, on my way to catch my flight home to my beloved.