[G]ay and lesbian Episcopalians will be allowed on Sunday to get married by priests in Brooklyn and Queens, but not in the Bronx or Manhattan or on Staten Island; in Syracuse but not in Albany.Rather than re-hash what I've written before, I'm going to point you at a couple of previous posts. As always I have strong opinions on the subject.
That is because the church has not taken a firm position nationally on same-sex marriage, leaving local bishops with wide latitude to decide what priests may do when the law takes effect in New York State. In the state, with six Episcopal dioceses, the bishops are split: two have given the green light for priests to officiate at same-sex marriages, one has said absolutely not, two are undecided and one has staked out a middle ground, allowing priests to bless, but not officiate at, weddings of gay men and lesbians.
A review of where TEC is and the concept of "wide pastoral latitude". In this, I agreed with those who are willing to let the process unfold--pushing it, of course, but letting the process happen.
The question of how do you bless a marriage that isn't, yet. In this post, I pointed out the problems caused by a patchwork of legal recognitions of LGBT couples, who may be married in one state, but not recognized in another; who may be recognized if they are civil unioned, but not if they are married; who may have no legal recognition whatsoever. It's why I think TEC should advocate for legal civil marriage in all states, and the overturn of DOMA, as a justice issue
In thinking about the SCLM consultation, I reflected on the argument about complementarity--and not for the first time, remarked on the REAL redefinition of marriage, which is that both partners are equal now.
I have argued quite a lot for the importance of recognizing same sex marriage as marriage, at least ecclesiastically.
A lot rides on GC2012. My continuing concern is that it will end up with what I call a "gay ghetto": a liturgy specifically for gay partnerships, regardless of whether they are marriages, or DPs, or … nothing legal. My reason for this concern is the comments to this SCLM blog, e.g.
will the same-sex blessings the SCLM are tasked with designing be added to the “list” of sacraments– becoming, as it were, the Eighth Sacrament– or will they merely exist on a lesser plane than marriage as currently understood in the Prayer Book?Note the explicit assumption that Gay will be Different (and probably lesser).
I think it may be interesting for the task group to consider (1) whether the theology developed through this process could equally justify the creation of a liturgy for blessing non-marital life-long commitments by opposite-gender couples, and (2) whether there are life-long committed same-gender relationships for which the Commission’s to-be-completed liturgy might be inappropriate.again, the idea of something different and lesser -- gays and not-so-committed straights can have something OTHER than marraige. (Whether DPs should co-exist with marriage, and the idea of "marriage lite", we discussed at length here).
Then there is this summary of table comments from the House of Bishops C056 consultation. While many comments were positive, some were negative about gay people generally. But of greater concern is this idea that marriage is something different if the partners are gay, e.g.,
As the Times article says,
- Is this an additional sacrament?
- Will straight couples be permitted to use the new rite?
- Distinction between blessings and marriage (this comes up multiple times)
- Is this the sacrament of marriage, or something else? It needs to be something else, clearly.
Some gay and lesbian Episcopalians said they were content to allow the church to proceed slowly because they believed it was moving in what they viewed as the right direction. The issue of same-sex marriage will most likely be raised again at the church’s next national conference, next summer.Make or break? Not quite that dramatic. But expectations run high, and not just for the folks in New York.