Wyoming on Tuesday became the 32nd state to legalize gay marriage, joining several other conservative areas in allowing same-sex weddings.
Legislators filed a legal notice in the morning that declared their refusal to defend a recently overturned state law that defined marriage between a man and a woman. Their move allows county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. It also means that the state will recognize same-sex unions legally performed outside of Wyoming. The state’s first same-sex marriage could occur as early as Tuesday night.
The move is particularly significant for the state because it is the location where Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was killed in a 1998 hate crime.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today (10/21/14) at 10 a.m. gay marriage became legal in Wyoming. Some of us are excited about this new direction, while others of us are disappointed by it. I ask that we be respectful of others who disagree with us and that we remember we are all united in our Lord Jesus Christ.
With this change in the legal definition of marriage, the process I established for performing the blessing of a same gendered union is no longer necessary. In the interest of the unity of our churches, I ask that our clergy and lay leadership work together to determine how their congregation will respond to this law. Additionally, I will be issuing a pastoral letter to be read in place of the sermon at all of our congregations on Sunday, Nov. 9th.
Furthermore, all marriages must meet the canonical requirements of The Episcopal Church. These requirements include:
that both parties have a right to marry within Wyoming
that pre-marital counseling take place
that at least one of the parties be baptized
that anyone who has been divorced receive permission from the Bishop prior to being married ( this should be done 60 days in advance)
The complete canonical requirements for marriage in The Episcopal Church may be found in Canon 1. Sections 18 and 19 of The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which can be downloaded here.
As we go forward let us we share the prayer for the Church found on pg. 816 in the Book of Common Prayer:
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
May God Bless and Keep you Always,
The Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie