WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hailed the Episcopal Church for its vote today allowing clergy to preside over religious ceremonies for same-sex couples as of November 1. .
“We commend and celebrate the Episcopal Church for this embrace of marriage equality,” said Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, HRC Foundation’s Director for Faith Partnerships and Mobilization. “Episcopalians today, in voting to allow religious marriage ceremonies of all couples in the church, regardless of sexual orientation, set an example of love and inclusion that will resonate across the religious community and beyond.”
“This move signals yet another step in the affirmation and inclusion of LGBT people by the Episcopal Church, which made history in 2003 when it elected its first openly-gay bishop, Gene Robinson,” added Rev. Flournoy. “The timing of this decision, coming just days after marriage equality became the law of the land, builds on progress the country continues to make on our journey toward equality.”
“We also commend the church for electing its first Black presiding bishop, Michael Curry of North Carolina,” said Rev. Flournoy. “Black Episcopalians are leading congregations, faithfully attending services, teaching Sunday schools and organizing food pantries -- and they ought to also be serving at the highest levels of the Church’s leadership.”
On Friday, Curry said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday on marriage equality “affirmed the authenticity of love.”
In the past, Episcopal priests in many dioceses have been allowed to perform civil same-sex unions. With its vote Wednesday at the church’s 78th general convention in Salt Lake City, Episcopalians eliminated gender-specific language from their laws on marriage, opening the door to religious weddings for same-sex couples. Clergy members may decline to perform same-sex marriages, with no penalty, if they choose.
The Episcopal Church, which has nearly 1.9 million members, joins the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as mainline Protestant denominations that allow same-sex weddings in all congregations.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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