The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today applauded the Episcopal Church for approving a new liturgy for blessing same-sex unions, two proposals adding gender identity and expression to the Church’s nondiscrimination canons for ordained ministry and in the “life, worship, and governance of the Church,” and a resolution supporting legislation for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. The votes took place at the denomination’s General Convention in Indianapolis. While the passage signifies a step in the right direction, the Canons of the Church still use the definition of “marriage” as between a man and a woman.
“This is a great day for the Episcopal Church and people of faith everywhere,” said Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, deputy director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program. “The Church reaffirmed to LGBT Episcopalians they are also God’s children and they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.”
These votes were a long time in the making. Since the 1960s, many clergy have provided private blessings to gay and lesbian couples, but the Church had no official practice. Following the 2009 General Convention, the Church said bishops may provide “generous pastoral response” to gay couples, especially in states that allow civil unions or gay marriages. The Church has been relatively silent on issues related to transgender clergy until this weekend.
“The Episcopal Church one of a growing number of denominations to see a new day in the intersection of faith and sexual orientation and gender identity. This is not only good for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but it is good for the soul of the church,” added Rev. Flournoy.