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Published On: Wed, Jul 11th, 2012

Episcopal Church to approve same-sex ‘blessings’

Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony Tuesday to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.

At the Episcopal General Convention, which is divided into two voting bodies, about 80 percent of the House of Deputies voted to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. A day earlier, the House of Bishops approved the rites 111-41 with three abstentions during the church meeting in Indianapolis.

Supporters of the same-sex blessings insisted it was not a marriage ceremony despite any similarities.

 Called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” the ceremony includes prayers and an exchange of vows and rings. Same-sex couples must complete counseling before having their unions or civil marriages blessed by the church.

Mary Tolbert, director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, told the New York Times that the approval “is significant because it’s saying, ‘This is around to stay — this is not a passing fad.’ It’s making a statement about the continued presence of gay and lesbian people among the congregations of the Episcopal Church, and that their lives need to be marked by liturgy as well.”

The Episcopal Church is not the first denomination to allow bishops to “bless” same-sex partnerships. In 2005, another mainline denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC), voted to allow such ceremonies. The UCC also allows the ordination of homosexual clergy.

The Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal minister and outspoken proponent of homosexual rights, told the New York Times, “I believe the Episcopal Church will continue to evolve on the issue of marriage equality and look forward to joining our U.C.C. brothers and sisters in being a headlight instead of taillight on marriage equality.”

Photo/Femke Jenkins Photography

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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