By: Dante Tavolaro
Russell's email went to the House of Bishops/Deputies listserve. The subject was “Teachable Moment on Holy Matrimony vs. Civil Marriage.” Since I was headed to the annual Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) Rally at the Statehouse I thought what better time to read this email. The moment I began to read the email my stomach was in knots and I had a huge lump in my throat. These intense feelings were brought about by reading the words, "As the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, I firmly support the traditional definition of marriage as the union between one male and one female. I believe that Holy Matrimony is a sacred religious rite, whose definition should not be re-interpreted by legislation or civil courts." I paused, took a deep breath, and with great trepidation read the Bishop's entire statement in The Rhode Island Catholic and Russell’s response on her blog: An Inch At A Time.
As I stood in front of the Statehouse that afternoon waiting to get in, I looked down the hill and there right in front of me were the diocesan offices and Cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. As I waited to go into the Statehouse, to say that I am a citizen and taxpayer of Rhode Island and deserve all the rights and privileges thereof, I felt as if I was doing the same for my diocese. It was as if the Statehouse and the diocesan offices were a reminder that as current law and policy stands I am not equal, that despite my contributions to my community – both religious and secular – I am something less than, that I am not good enough simply by the virtue of who I am.
In the days following the rally, I continued to have conversations, emails, texts, and even facebook messages from laity and clergy of the Diocese of Rhode Island. It was – and is – these messages that reminded me why I am so committed to my ministry here in Rhode Island. Message after message of love and support came through. One priest even asked when the next rally was, because she was working on her sign that says, “I’m an Episcopal Priest and I Support Marriage Equality.”
Time and history have proven that the majority of people, both lay and ordained, in this diocese do not agree with the positions of Bishop Wolf on this matter. It is with this knowledge that I can carry on: That no matter what I can still go to my parish church day in and day out and be loved and supported for exactly who I am. There is nothing Bishop Wolf can say or do to take that love away from me.
Integrity USA is committed to Marriage Equality for all couples, within and outside the Episcopal Church.