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Conversation has heated up about the state of Illinois possibly becoming the 10th state to authorize marriage for same-sex couples. As I write this article, legislation is getting closer.
Let me state right up front that as they now do in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the wedding bells will chime for same-sex couples in the 134-year-old congregation of Grace Episcopal Church of Oak Park, the moment that bill passes. And it will pass. It may not be this week or next, but it will pass. Grace Church's marriage guidelines, found on our Marriage and Civil Union website page, will be the guidelines for all couples.
ABC News and OutusNews.com quote the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral, as saying: "For more than 30 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed and studied to discern the evidence of God's blessing in the lives of same-sex couples." Hall continued, "We enthusiastically affirm each person as a beloved child of God — and doing so means including the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of this spiritual home for the nation."
Grace Episcopal Church has a longstanding history of blessing the unions of same-sex couples. I believe that our first one was in the mid- to late-'90s. It is part of our heritage, our theology and our core values.
In July, the Episcopal Church approved a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions and also approved that this liturgy may be adapted in those states where same-sex marriage is legal. We Episcopalians also made it clear that we would advocate to Congress the repealing of legislation that discriminates against same-sex marriage. The resolution, entitled End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Marriage, reads in part:
"Resolved, that the 77th General Convention urge members of the U.S. Congress to repeal federal laws that have a discriminatory effect on same-gender civilly married couples, and to pass legislation to allow the U.S. federal government to provide benefits to those couples."
I am proud to be a part of the Episcopal Church and to have a bishop who supports equal rights for all. In our tradition, whenever we baptize, we reaffirm our promise to respect the dignity of every human being and to work for justice and peace for all. I pray that the bill passes soon and that Grace Episcopal Church of Oak Park will be ready and available to my brothers and sisters in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered) community who wish to have a place not only to be legally married, but also to celebrate their union in a place that will eagerly bless those relationships as well.
As the rector of Grace Church and as a citizen of this country, I look forward to and will fight for marriage equality for all.
This was published recently in Grace Episcopal's online newsletter.