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Bishop of Alabama: Yes, but no on same-sex blessings

Bishop of Alabama: Yes, but no on same-sex blessings

Bishop Kee Sloan, who voted yes at General Convention to approve the new ritual for same-sex blessings, will not allow the blessings to be performed in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

From the Birmingham News:

“For the time being, I will not give permission,” Sloan said in an interview.

The blessing of same-gender unions is still too divisive an issue for Alabama, he said. “It’s not good at this time in this place,” Sloan said. “I’m trying to avoid any further division.”

The Rev. Frank F. Limehouse III, dean of the 3,400-member Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham’s largest Episcopal Church, posted a response on the church’s website,

“We at the Advent will do our best to remain true to the teachings of the Bible,” Limehouse wrote. “We cannot bless any sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman. The Bible is clear about this. If anyone who declares the Bible teaches otherwise, then I wouldn’t doubt his or her sincerity, but I would have to question their training in biblical interpretation.”

While many Episcopalians defected from the Episcopal Church after the approval in 2003 of the consecration of the first openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, Limehouse said he plans to stay in the denomination but remain opposed to blessing same-sex unions.

Advocates for same-sex blessings were puzzled that Sloan supported the rites, but won’t allow them in his diocese.

“All of us striving for full inclusion are disappointed that he’s not allowing Alabama to move forward with the national church,” said Brad LaMonte, former Southeast regional vice president of Integrity, which promotes gay rights in the church.

“He worked on the committee that developed the rite,” LaMonte said. “It’s bizarre that he’s not allowing it in Alabama.”

See full story here.


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@Bill: I think the frustration is less with the measure than with the tendency inherent in the TEC, which is to send a measure to committee, bloviate for the next several decades, finally get a compromise passed, then declare victory by virtue of the fact that something actually got done.

In the instant case, we have managed to dither around for 35 years since the passage of the full-and-equal-claim provision. Persons have lived and died waiting to see equality, and we are not yet there. So just as I think few would argue that Brown v. Board of Education was a bad thing, so too can we say that the footdragging after the original decision indeed was a bad thing, or what we term sin.

In sum, I’d say there’s wonderful and positive change underway within TEC, but there also are thick layers of sin, frustration and fear, all of which are common when change is afoot. So, in the previous comments I don’t hear that anyone is unhappy about the legislation–the unhappiness is that there are still roadblocks, more than 40 years into the discussion, to full equality and inclusion. And for prophetic voices in the church, calling us forward, all I can say is thanks be to God.

Eric Bonetti


In response to Mr. Gilbert’s comment: Four progressive parishes in the Diocese of Albany have requested and received DEPO. They are St. Andrew’s, Albany; St. George’s, Schenectady; St. Luke’s, Saranac Lake; and St. John’s, Essex. Albany is a mixed diocese, though it styles itself conservative and its leadership (and General Convention deputies) lean very, very hard right.

Robert T. Dodd

Bill Dilworth

Gary, how exactly is this an “abuse of power,” since the bishop in question is acting within the scope of the resolution authorizing the rite in the first place?

It seems to me that if the GLBT Episcopalians have such a problem with the resolution that we are labeling actions it specifically authorizes as an “abuse of power,” and invoking the struggle against segregation in our critiques of it, maybe we should have opposed the measure loudly and clearly. Supporting the resolution beforehand and then damning it once it’s passed makes us look like we’re speaking out of both sides of our collective mouth.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Thank you, Susan, for the excellent link! Yes, we need both/and. General Convention needs to be thanked for passing D018, which asks Congress to strike section three of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Section three prohibits the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples, denying these families at least 1138 protections and benefits.

Section 3 is currently being litigated because it is easier to go after than section two, which allows states not to recognize legal marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions. Section three is weaker because it took away the right of states to determine who is married. A married same-sex couple in a state such as New York is married at the state level and single at the federal level. Murdoch and I can speak about that schizophrenic setup.

This a bad both/and, whereas Susan’s both/and of working for civil and religious equality is good.

Gary Paul Gilbert


@Bill Dilworth re: “IMNSHO – our focus ought to be on getting the legal protections and benefits of civil marriage” … #GC77 was actually all over that one — passing D018 (“Urging Congress to end federal discrimination against same-sex married couples”) so overwhelmingly I never even got a chance to give my clever under-a-minute support-for speech on the floor of the House of Deputies.

I did, however, write about it on the Huffington Post, so you can read that here:

Meanwhile, In My Own NSHO sacramental apartheid is just as worth fighting to end as civil marriage discrminiation is. La lucha continua.

Susan Russell

All Saints Church, Pasadena

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