I was wondering how and when local clergy were going to get involved in next week’s gay marriage-fest in the District and, true to form, the local Episcopal bishop has stepped in with guidelines for his clerics on how and where to do these ceremonies. Read them here.
This is no great shock, of course, in that the diocese has had its own gay marriage rite on the books since 2004. It was put on ice (at least officially) for a few years while the Episcopal Church debated the matter, but since last summer - when the denomination voted to allow gay unions - the ice has melted. The bishop - who has himself presided at same-sex unions (and will again next week, I strongly suspect), says he’s allowing his 135 active clergy to do so as well, but no cleric will be forced to do so.
Notice the bishop says that if a local parish is being used as the site for a same-sex ceremony, its governing board and rector must OK the transaction. His orders are solely for DC clergy. The only other Episcopal clergy allowed to perform these rites at an Episcopal church in the district must be from states that allow civil same-sex marriages: Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts.
I am not aware of any other local denominational leaders who’ve given blanket permission about this to their clergy so if any readers know of other local bishops allowing the same thing, please advise.
For instance, Mary Kay Totty, pastor of Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown, has also offered to do these ‘weddings’ along with 12 other clergy who attend the church. Church law bars Methodist pastors from performing such ceremonies, so we’ll see if Ms. Totty gets disciplined by her church.
- Julia Duin, religion editor