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Dallas to debate marriage equality, again

Dallas to debate marriage equality, again

The Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. George Sumner, in a blog post anticipating their upcoming Diocesan convention, expresses his weariness with those who continue to push for full inclusiveness and marriage equality in the church.  Complaining that expanding the church’s circle of inclusion is somehow not missional.

“Diocesan Convention nowadays means a debate over marriage in the Episcopal Church and in the diocese.  I welcome the democratic process which is part of our inheritance as Episcopalians.  The question of whether such bodies can on their own innovate in the area of doctrine is another matter.”

“The debate over marriage in the Church is not simply a political one, but rather the complementarity of male and female in both creation and in the sacramental life of the Church is an important truth in our faith.  I know that this issue has been a divisive one. I share the desire to get on with the Church’s mission.”


In Dallas, and in a few other dioceses still pushing against full inclusion and marriage equality, this is still an issue.  And they will be debating this once again in Dallas because there is a proposed resolution to eliminate the diocese’s own marriage canon that still defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

2017 – C06 – Proposed change deleting Canon 12 from the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas


CANON 12 MORAL DISCIPLINE Section 12.1 As used in this Diocese, the terms “Holy Matrimony” and Marriage” shall refer to the exclusive physical and spiritual union of one man and one woman, by mutual consent of the heart, mind and will, and with the intent that it be lifelong. Section 12.2 The blessing of sexual relationships between persons of the same sex is prohibited in churches, missions and congregations of this Diocese; and clergy persons resident or licensed in this Diocese are prohibited from performing such blessings in any venue. Section 12.3 All members of the clergy of this Diocese, having subscribed to the Declaration required by Article VIII of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and all persons seeking Holy Orders in this Diocese, shall be under obligation to model in their own lives, as wholesome examples, the received teaching of the Church that all of its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage.

Rationale: The subject matter of Diocesan Canon 12 is addressed by Title 1, Canon 18, Of the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage in The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. The diocesan canons accede to the national canons, and thus there is no need for Diocesan Canon 12.

Proposed by: Vestry of The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, Dallas, TX Vestry of The Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Dallas, TX


The Rector of St Thomas, one of the resolution’s sponsors, Joy Anne Daley, wrote in her blog, two years ago,

“Because we are under the authority of the bishop,  same gender couples who do get married here in Texas, will not be able to get married in  a church in the Episcopal  Diocese of Dallas, YET.

I say YET because I look forward to the day, which I hope is soon, when the state, the National church and the Diocese are all in sync so that couples who are living holy lives together may be blessed for the blessing that they already are.  I thank all of you for your faithful witness to the gospel as we continue to minister together.”


The convention is set to meet tomorrow, and it seems unlikely that this resolution will be approved.


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Ann Fontaine

Dallas voted against equality —
The motion to repeal the discriminatory canon failed in both orders —
Vote tally:
Clergy: 36 for; 70 against
Lay: 79 for; 98 against

Prof Christopher Seitz

I think this outcome was always to be expected. The Diocese obviously created the canon in question as reflecting their understanding of marriage. There is no straightforward understanding of GC 2015 and diocesan canons and, as noted, in any case Bishops were given leeway. Perhaps the two churches felt this was a good way to get a proxy on the bishop; if so, it did not turn out well. Another strategy would be to expect defeat and then use it to get 2018 GC to close off episcopal discretion. I wonder if the HOB will want that?


I notice that the other resolutions appear to make it harder to change the constitution and canons, and give the bishop more authority. I wonder the current majority fears becoming the future minority?

Christie Olsen

Praying for our brothers and sisters in my former diocese this weekend and thanking God for the continuing witness of Joy Daley and others as they follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Prof Christopher Seitz

The GC 2015 did not speak about diocesan canons. Indeed the authority they gave to opt out, they grounded in the individual Bishop. Even were this to pass, it would change nothing re: GC 2015 allowance and the Bishop would continue as heretofore.

So it is a resolution to the side of the real practical issue. One can be confident GC 2018 will do something about this. The only caveat is whether the HOB will decide they don’t want Bishops to live under directives. It is a 30 minute car ride to Fort Worth.

Does anyone know the statistics on how many same-sex marriages have been performed since 2015? I am unaware if any couples from these 2 churches have been married in FW.

Tim Kruse

If it can happen in the Diocese of Texas, it can happen (someday) in the junior Diocese of Dallas. Keep up the witnessing St. Thomas and Ascension!

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