Two of Maryland’s three Episcopal bishops said yesterday that they will allow diocesan clergy to solemnize same-gender marriages now that marriage equality has been signed into law.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act that he brought to the state legislature last year. The law will almost certainly be challenged by opponents before it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland and Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde said they will give permission to their clergy to preside at such marriages while Easton Bishop James “Bud” Shand said he would await a pending decision by the church’s General Convention to authorize trial use of a rite to bless same-gender unions.
Sutton said in a statement issued as the governor was signing the bill that not every priest in the diocese will want to solemnize same-gender marriages.
“The Episcopal Church, following the teachings and example of our Lord Jesus, respects the dignity of every human being — including those on both sides of this issue. We, like many other Christian bodies who base their decisions on Holy Scripture, tradition and reason, are not of one mind about the marriage of same gender couples,” he said. “Many of us are rejoicing that we in Maryland will be able to provide the church’s blessing upon these committed relationships in marriage, but also many Episcopal clergy in good conscience cannot perform same gender marriages. For those who have discerned that such committed relationships have met the church’s standards of holy matrimony, this bill will permit them to do so, and I am giving them my consent to perform these marriages.”
Assuming that the expected challenges to the law fail, it goes into effect on January 1, 2013.