UPDATED: House of Bishops passes marriage resolutions

Via the House of Deputies Newsletter:

The House of Bishops on Monday approved two liturgies for trial use that will permit same-sex couples to be married in the Episcopal Church, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent of this year. Their action came just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can now be married in all 50 states.

The two liturgies, which were in Resolution A054, include a gender-neutral version of the current marriage service in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, as well as a version of a liturgy that was approved in 2012 for blessing same-sex unions that now also provides vows of marriage. These rites do not refer to “man and woman” or “husband and wife,” but instead use “these persons” or “the couple” to refer to the two people being married.

The bishops also adopted Resolution A036, which makes changes to the marriage canons to permit clergy to use either the current Prayer Book marriage rite or one of the trial use liturgies when performing marriages.

After a moment of prayer, the resolution passed on a roll-call vote, with 129 in favor, 26 opposed and five abstaining.

The resolutions now go to the House of Deputies for their vote. If the Deputies amend the resolutions at all they will go back to the House of Bishops.

Update – from ENS. Note the “conscience clause” for bishops:

…The bishops next debated and ultimately approved an amended Resolution A036 that revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

Among many edits, the resolution removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman.

It also recasts the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this church” about marriage. The bishops’ amended version now reads clergy “shall conform to the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the Clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this Church.”

Clergy may “decline to solemnize or bless any marriage,” a provision similar to the existing discretion allowed to clergy.
Under the revision, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

A resolution to substitute a minority report on A036 for the resolution failed.

Posted by John B. Chilton


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  1. Robert T. Dodd

    A proud day for our Episcopal Church. Bravo!

  2. Anne

    Well done! Continue to work in the Spirit!

  3. Cynthia Katsarelis

    �‍❤️‍ �‍❤️‍ �‍❤️‍ �‍❤️‍ �‍❤️‍ �‍❤️‍

  4. Faye Burner

    Thanks be to God.

  5. Patti Noel

    I do love my church, job well done embracing all of God’s people.

  6. Christine Uhrmacher

    So proud to be a part of the Episcopal church.

  7. Professor Christopher Seitz

    Sounds like every Bishop exercising jurisdiction must allow these new rites, or if they do not choose to do so, must give ecclesiastical supervision to another Bishop who acts with the former’s authority for this purpose.

    People may object to GC action, and should not be disciplined for so doing.

    But nothing will prevent the dissemination of these new rites/understanding throughout each and every diocese of TEC.

  8. JC Fisher

    TBTG, Alleluia!

  9. Kevin Morrow

    May God have mercy on your decision to turn away from his Word

    • JC Fisher

      May God bring comfort to those having their Biblical interpretations turned from…

  10. R.P. Hale

    Well done, House of Bishops – acknowledging and affirming these rights for all!

  11. Professor Christopher Seitz

    For the record only (as it won’t actually matter, given the status of C/C).

    129 votes is not the number required but well below it, according to the rules for voting a Trial Rite.

    One needs a majority of all those entitled to vote — and that means, all retired Bishops, assistant Bishops, etc.

    This was also pointed out in 2012. The Trial Rite vote technically could not have been achieved, and so the ‘provisional rite.’

    I mention this not because it will have any effect whatsoever. It won’t.

    But anyone reading the c/c on the votes required for passing a Trial Rite will immediately see they did not get the necessary votes. Indeed, given the laxity now prevailing, no one even went to any effort to worry about the quorum.

    When it is full steam ahead, it is full steam ahead.

  12. Ann Fontaine

    Please sign your name – first and last – when commenting. Thanks, Editor.

  13. Anne Bay

    One of my favourite people is President Carter. Listening to President and Mrs. Carter interviewed at the Aspen Institute and they are both super knowledgeable in many areas. Everyone knows about President Carter’s famous Sunday Bible Class he continues to hold and his strong faith and Biblical knowledge. He came forth endorsing same sex marriage before it became a big issue, and if he is for it, I think it’s time to take note. Being a person of faith doesn’t mean to just dig one’s foot in the sand and refuse to learn, study, examine, and be open to new information. I think any new hurdle in the church can be addressed with open intellect and move on. My mother said one reason she joined the Episcopal Church was because it encouraged one to use their brain. Scientific and new findings with regards to physical and psychological issues needs to be part of all current decisions.

  14. Louis Smith

    i am very pleased.

  15. Anthony Christiansen

    Proud to be an Episcopalian!

  16. Ann Gaillard

    I am confused about what this will mean in my diocese (Albany). Our diocesan canons forbid us clergy from officiating at a same-sex wedding (or a blessing following a civil marriage); we cannot even attend a same-sex wedding as a member of the congregation without first obtaining our bishop’s permission. The canons also forbid the use of church property for a same-sex wedding (or blessing). Does anyone have any insights?

    • John Chilton

      At a minimum your bishop would have to make provision for the couple to have a destination wedding in another diocese.

    • Doug Spurlin

      How is it possible for an Episcopal bishop to require parishioners to get his approval to attend a same sex marriage? Can this really be a thing?!

  17. Pam Jordan Anderson

    Does anyone have the roll call results?

    • Jon White

      These aren’t usually provided during the GC, but are included in the journal which is published after. Not sure how the paperless GC might affect this

  18. This is good start and lately positive news for the Episcopal Church, but more must be done with Bishops that have been evasive and reluctant to provide fair and equal treatment in rites and sacraments to LGBTQ congregants and their families. Know their names well, Episcopalians because they are the barriers to true and full inclusion.

    This is a great point of light for the Episcopal Church, but many LGBTQ in less progressive dioceses will still continue to walk in darkness and not get the pastoral care they seek — even with the promise of a referral to another diocese that ‘sees the light.’

  19. John Chilton

    It takes a majority of the HOB. This has always been interpreted to mean a majority of bishops who are present. No new interpretation of the TEC constitution took place. Those voting “no” agree.

    • Professor Christopher Seitz

      Always = as of your present mindset. See the discussion over the parliamentary issues in 2012.

      But I am seriously confused.

      Surely you don’t believe a vote that did not follow the rules is somehow germane? You surely are not saying that if the vote was irregular, it will need to be taken up again when the proper quorum is assembled?

      You may observe the use of language in the C/C. When they mean ‘bishops present’ that is what they say. When they mean ‘bishops entitled to vote’ they use different language.

      But do you really care?

  20. Professor Christopher Seitz

    For that odd group that is interested in what it would be for TEC to observe its own C/C:

    Art. X requires that trial rites pass the HOD on a special vote by orders:

    “the General Convention may at any one meeting, by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the Clerical and Lay Deputies of all the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies, voting by orders as previously set forth in this Article:”

    Now just go back and see how this category–important because a Trial Rite is en route to a BCP revision, potentially–uses language that is precise, as against other instances.

    It isn’t difficult.

    But why would anyone now care? A result was sought and it mattered more than ‘rules.’ Each new generation waves goodbye to their fellows from the previous. Such is the New Episcopal Church.

  21. Cynthia Katsarelis

    I think most of us are just happy, Christopher. Others say that the vote comes from “bishops present” and that was overwhelmingly in favor. My own bishop is very nice, but he is quite bureaucratic, some might call him a nerd. So I would say that there are a lot of smart, committed people who disagree with you.

    I am actually starting to feel some compassion for those who are losing their sense of what the church should be. But I don’t know what can be done when one side’s view requires actively harming others. If I had special wisdom or a magic bullet that made you and the other conservatives feel fully welcomed, and not on a “losing side,” I would share it. In a heartbeat. For all the words we’ve had, my ardent wish is that we all find the “peace of God that passeth all understanding” and share that Peace together, in our broken world.

    • Professor Christopher Seitz

      We simply want the autopsy to be recorded.

      I have 35 years of work in commentary writing on Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

      They note their odd place in time, out of synch with the most fervent trends, and seek to see a God above and within both.

      You appear to be a kind person with sincere concerns.

      We shall have to see what God decides is of his own eternal purposes. You have your hunches.

      God bless you and keep you.

  22. Anthony Christiansen

    Very proud to be an Episcopalian today! Many thanks to all who forged the way and to our HoB and HoD. The Kingdom has come closer!

  23. Doug Spurlin

    I have one small question. I only see the 129-26 with 5 abstaining. Did they use one vote to approve both resolutions? Or did both get the exact same vote total?

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