Support the Café

Search our Site

A wedding in a hospital room

A wedding in a hospital room

In this deeply moving article, New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis tells the story of Richard Townsend, 77 and Jacques Beaumont, 86, partners of 39 years, who were married this week in the hospital room in which they are both being treated for terminal illnesses.

Mr. Beaumont, the more religious of the two, asked his pastor, the Rev. Glenn B. Chalmers, and former pastor, the Rev. Elizabeth Maxwell, of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, to officiate. Mr. Beaumont admires the church for its soup kitchen. But priests in the Episcopal Diocese of New York cannot legally perform same-sex marriages, so they called in a colleague, the Rev. John E. Denaro, of the diocese of Long Island, where it is allowed, to join them and to sign the forms. “I’m John Doe — or Jane Doe,” Father Denaro said jokingly, getting into the cloak-and-dagger spirit.

As hospital workers in different-colored smocks crammed into the lounge, Mr. Jones, the former colleague of Mr. Beaumont at Cimade, conjured up a cobblestoned Paris street by playing a Charles Trenet song, “I Wish You Love,” on his melodica, which sounds like a cross between an accordion and a harmonica. Then, at Mr. Townsend’s request, he played “Your Song” — “with apologies to Elton John.” Another colleague, Muriel Glasgow, invoked Edith Piaf with her rendition of “Ne me quitte pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”).

Do yourself a favor and read the whole story, and as penance for your sins, think only charitable thoughts about the religious leaders across this country who work so hard to keep ceremonies like this one from happening.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary Gilbert

Mark Sisk’s reasoning seems to be that priests signing a civil marriage license would give the impression that same-sex couples are just like sex-discordant couples. Because the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have not figured out what to do with same-sex couples, he will not allow priests in the Diocese of New York to officiate at the civil weddings of same-sex couples. The embrace of equality by City Hall might jeopardize the separate-and-unequal institution of religious marriage.

Sisk seems to lead from behind. He should at least have made an exception for this same-sex couple who don’t have much time left.

Gary Paul Gilbert

David C. Wacaster+

I am really disappointed in Bishop Sisk and I have several issues with his prohibition – not the least of which is that it conflates two separate institutions: CIVIL marriage and sacred marriage. There is absolutely no reason why Episcopal priests in NY should not be able to sign a civil marriage certificate.

This is the sort of non-leadership that gets one remembered and not in a good way.



So tremendously moving. Mazel Tov to Richard and Jacques! :-)..

JC Fisher


Thanks for the link to the beautiful story, Jim. Who would want to deny anyone this kind of happiness? Well, a good many folks, more’s the pity.

June Butler

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café