Wednesday, July 1, 2009

FAQs About Moving Forward On Marriage Equality

Part 2 of 3...

There are lots of resolutions about marriage equality--which approach does Integrity USA favor?

Integrity is committed to achieving full marriage equality for LGBT people. We recognize that the path to marriage equality may be longer than we would like.

Past General Convention resolutions have clearly established the Episcopal Church's support for civil marriage equality. We believe the Episcopal Church should proactively advocate for same-gender civil marriage. In those jurisdictions where civil marriage is not yet politically achievable, the Episcopal Church should support civil unions or domestic partnerships as an interim step toward marriage equality.
We believe the Episcopal Church must update its marriage rites and marriage canons to recognize same-gender marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. As an interim measure, the Episcopal Church could adopt supplemental liturgical materials that can be used to bless committed, faithful, same-gender relationships that may or may not be legal recognized by the state.

As for what specific legislation we'll be supporting at General Convention in July, the answer is the same as the one above on B033: The legislation that will pass.

Don’t we need do more theological work around blessing same-sex relationships?

Actually, what we need more of is attention to the theological work that has already been done around blessings same-sex relationships. Theological work is always a good thing--but to continue to hold hostage a percentage of the sacraments from a percentage of the baptized while we "do more" theology is both unjust and unnecessary. Or, as Michael Hopkins wrote in the 2002 Claiming the Blessing Theology Statement: " pastorally irresponsible and theologically unnecessary."

As Ed Bacon, the rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena famously said, "I'm so glad Mary didn't wait for the formulation of a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'Yes' to God."

Why should the Episcopal Church take a stand on civil marriage equality?

The Episcopal Church has ALREADY taken a stand on civil marriage equality.

The explanation for Resolution A095 (passed at GC 2006), we said, "For at least thirty years, and even as debate about the role of gay and lesbian people within the Church has continued, successive General Conventions have recognized the equal claim of gay and lesbian persons to the civil rights enjoyed by all other persons. In 1994, General Convention (1994-D006) called on all levels of government to support legislation giving same-sex couples the same legal protections as non-same-sex married couples. In light of recent legislative actions in several states, and a proposed federal constitutional amendment, an affirmation of the Episcopal Church's support for equal rights is warranted.

Why do we need to update the marriage rites in the Book of Common Prayer? Why do we need to update the marriage canons?

There was a time when the ordination rites in the Book of Common Prayer and our canons on ordination needed to be updated to reflect the reality that those being ordained as deacons, priests and bishops in this church were no longer exclusively male. As we live into the pastoral reality that in many jurisdictions, parish members entering into civil marriage are no longer exclusively opposite sex couples, our rites need to be adjusted to reflect the reality in order to allow us to provide appropriate pastoral care for ALL members of the Episcopal Church.

Isn't the present approach--some bishops in some dioceses allowing blessings as a pastoral practice--good enough? Why not continue with "local option"?

Integrity believes that separate is inherently unequal and "allowing blessings as pastoral practice" rather than celebrating the full inclusion of the LGBT faithful in the Body of Christ falls short of our baptismal promises to strive for peace and justice and to respect the dignity of every human being. We are a people of "common prayer" and we are asking for rites for blessing that we hold in common with the whole church because we want live our lives in the center of the tradition we love and claim as our own--not on the fringes or in the closet.

Why do we need a supplemental liturgical rite for blessing same-gender relationships?

We recognize that the journey to full inclusion is a long one and we also believe that justice delayed is justice denied. Approving supplemental liturgical rites for blessings while the church continues to work through its theology of marriage will offer a pastoral step forward for those couples still waiting for the church’s blessing for their already-blessed-by-God relationships. It will also send a signal that we ARE moving forward toward full inclusion – even when that movement is slower than we might like.

Watch for part 3 on Thursday!

No comments: