CT Episcopalians ask OK for gay marriage
Posted on October 29, 2008
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The clergy and lay delegates of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut voted Saturday to ask the bishop to allow same-sex weddings, as the state Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in the state becomes official today.
The resolution at the annual diocesan convention passed 174-132, but is not binding on Bishop Andrew D. Smith, who said he is studying the issue.
According to the resolution, the convention “implores the bishop to allow priests in this diocese to exercise pastoral wisdom and care and follow the lead of their consciences in whether or not to participate in marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples.”
The state Supreme Court decision released earlier this month officially takes effect today. In a 4-3 ruling, the court stated that “our conventional understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection.
“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice.”
The General Assembly approved civil unions for same-sex partners in 2005 and is now the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to legalize same-sex marriages.
Smith said Monday he will take the delegates’ vote under consideration.
“The vote at convention is an indication by the delegates at convention of their thoughts and preferences for the diocese,” Smith said. “It was a clear majority, but not a landslide in favor of allowing clergy to exercise their consciences.”
Smith has allowed Episcopal priests in Connecticut to perform a blessing for couples in civil unions, and told convention delegates he will allow the same for married same-sex couples.
He has not permitted clergy to perform marriages for gay couples because the Book of Common Prayer, which is considered part of the Episcopal Church’s constitution, defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
However, Smith and the diocese’s two suffragan bishops are researching the issue. “I want to talk to bishops in other states where marriage has been defined in a new way,” Smith said. Ultimately, the Episcopal Church as a whole will have to decide whether to approve same-sex marriage, he said.
The Rev. K. Dexter Cheney, former rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in West Haven, was one of the delegates who sponsored the resolution and said he’s ready to perform same-sex marriages.
“Over my time in the church, it has felt like there have been times when there needed to be some action to sort of nudge change, and particularly where matters of justice are concerned,” he said.
He said Smith is in a bind because civil and church laws now disagree on what defines marriage. “He’s obliged to uphold the canon law of the church on one hand. On the other, it’s my impression that he is sympathetic to the issue,” Cheney said.
For Connecticut as a whole, same-sex marriages are still at least a couple of weeks away. According to state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Supreme Court’s decision becomes official with today’s publication in the Connecticut Law Journal.
“Then there is a 10-day waiting period because any party can request reconsideration,” he said.
Once that period ends Nov. 10, the Superior Court where the case originated will issue orders to implement the ruling and town clerks will be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“The order will say you must treat same-sex couples who wish to be married in exactly the same way as heterosexual couples, because the equal protection clause requires equal treatment,” Blumenthal said.
Source: The Bristol Press – CT Episcopalians ask OK for gay marriage
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