November, 16, 2009
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, today announced his support for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. Chane made his endorsement in a column on the Web site of The Washington Post: http://tinyurl.com/yaze3xu
Noting that recent media coverage has pitted conservative Christians against liberal secularists, the bishop articulated a Christian case for same-sex marriage.
“I would say respectfully to my fellow Christians that people who deny others the blessings they claim for themselves should not assume they speak for the Almighty,” Chane said. “The church has deepened its understanding of the way in which faithful couples experience and embody the love of the creator for creation. In so doing, it has put itself in a position to consider whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
“Theologically, therefore, Christian support for same-sex marriage is not a dramatic break with tradition, but a recognition that the church’s understanding of marriage has changed dramatically over 2,000 years. “
Chane also praised the D. C. Council for its sensitivity to issues of religious liberty.
“[I]t's important to emphasize that the actions taken by the D.C. Council do not address the religious meaning of marriage at all,” he wrote. “The proposed legislation would not force any congregation to change its religious teachings or bless any couple. Our current laws do not force any denomination to offer religious blessing to second marriages, yet those marriages, like interfaith marriages, are equal in the sight of the law even though some churches do not consider them religiously valid.
“D.C.’s proposed marriage equality law explicitly protects the religious liberty of those who believe that God’s love can be reflected in the loving commitment between two people of the same sex and of those who do not find God there. This is as it should be in a society so deeply rooted in the principles of religious freedom and equality under the law.”
Like many Episcopal bishops, Chane permits the clergy in his diocese to bless same-sex relationships. He said the diocese is examining the church’s canons to determine whether priests will be allowed to sign marriage licenses if same-sex marriage becomes legal.
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington consists of 89 congregations, including Washington National Cathedral, and more than 40,000 baptized members in the District of Columbia and the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles and Saint Mary’s.