The Episcopal Church has passed a resolution that will allow same-sex couples to get married in their diocese of choice, regardless of the bishop’s view on same-sex weddings.
The resolution B012 was approved with an overwhelming majority on Friday, July 13, during the Episcopal Church General Convention in Austin, Texas—a triennial event. In 2015, after the historic Supreme Court ruling recognising same-sex marriage across the US, the General Convention too voted on allowing same-sex weddings.
The resolution passed, but it gave bishops the power to refuse a couple on the basis of their theological views on marriage, and force other members of the clergy in that diocese to follow their line. Overall, eight dioceses were effectively refusing same-sex couples the right to marry.
Friday’s resolution removes that hurdle, placing the decision to marry a same-sex couple in the hand of the local priest. Members of the clergy can make the personal decision to not wed gay or lesbian couples—but they will have to tap another priest or bishop willing to perform the sacrament using gender-neutral liturgies.
“We are fond of saying around the Episcopal Church that all are welcome, and all means all, y’all,” said the chair of the General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, East Carolina Deputy Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, ahead of the vote in support of the resolution, quoted in the Episcopal News Service.
The US Episcopal Church, led by Bishop Michael Curry who gave a memorable, fiery sermon during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, is one of a handful of Christian denominations supporting LGBT inclusion—the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ are two of the others—which resulted in the church being shunned by the global Anglican Communion. The Scottish Episcopal Church too faced similar punishment from the Anglican Communion for recognising same-sex marriages.
The resolution approval on Friday marked a victory for the All Sacrament for All People group, which has been campaigning for full marriage equality across the dioceses for the past three years, when Bishop Joseph Bauerschmidt of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee enforced the opposition to same-sex marriage in his diocese.
The All Sacraments for All People campaign produced a moving video in which families affected by bishops’ negative decision on same-sex marriage told their stories, calling on the convention to make the necessary changes.
“I think it’s a wonderful compromise, which respects the dignity of the bishop and his position, but still allows marriage for all in their home congregations,” Connally Davies Penley, a member of the All Sacrament for All People, told the Tennessean.
The resolution will only come to effect on the first Sunday of the Advent, December 2. In the meantime, Bishop Bauerschmidt told the Tenneassean, “there is much to work out.”