Under the passage of this legislation, we will now have the liturgical approval and policy to conduct services blessing same-sex marriages, even in states where these marriages are still illegal. Because the term "marriage" is one that falls within the auspices of state government, it is a blessing of monogamous relationship between two people. The official liturgical service will be called "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant." That just sounds so beautiful to me, because what is marriage but a lifelong covenant?
What is even more astounding, to me, is the margin by which it passed. The Episcopal governing body works very much like our own US Congress, by the way, so all new policies and regulations are determined by committees and voting. The House of Bishops (bishops from every diocese, active and retired) approved it with a vote of 111-41 (and 3 abstaining). From there, it went to the House of Deputies (clergy and lay people representing congregations all over the country), and passed by 78% of lay members and 76% of clergy. Those are impressive margins.
One of the things that I particularly like about being an Episcopalian is that there are accepted "gray areas" when it comes to what one believes or chooses to practice with regard to individual and corporate worship. For example, some Episcopalians, especially those that have converted from Catholicism, choose to pray to Mary, while others don't. Some like to worship in "high church" style, and others prefer more contemporary worship. Under this new liturgical practice, each clergy member is granted the right to decline to conduct same-sex blessing services as per his/her preference, and there will be no repercussion for declining.
All in all, there will be people that adamantly oppose this step toward full equality and acceptance. That happens anytime the status quo gets changed. I, however, believe this is a wonderful step in the right direction. I have known and do know several homosexuals in monogamous relationships that are more committed than some heterosexual couples. I would rather support the union between two homosexual people that are committed to a faithful relationship than one between two heterosexual people that is built on shaky ground and questionable expectations. I'd like to think God would too.
So, to all my gay and lesbian friends, I say: