GC2009: Thirty LGBT Resolutions
By Michael Heidt
The Episcopal Church looks set to embroil itself in further controversy due to a radical set of resolutions coming up before the houses of bishops and deputies at this year's Convention. According to the homosexual advocate, "Integrity", there are thirty LGBT oriented resolutions to be discussed at committee level before being proposed to TEC's bicameral governing body. Repealing B033, which was enacted by General Convention in 2006, is key.
"Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
This was passed in an attempt to give The Episcopal Church some semblance of "Windsor compliance" and thus preserve TEC's threatened place in the Anglican Communion. The pressure is now on for this 'restraint" to come to an end. For example, Resolution C007 asks, "That this 76th General Convention affirms that standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction are not bound by any extra-canonical restraints-including but not limited to the restraints set forth in Resolution B033 passed by the 75th General Convention-when considering consents to the ordination of any candidate to the episcopate."
Why? Because to do otherwise would be "unjust and discriminatory." Resolution C010, from the diocese of Atlanta, is even clearer:, the "usefulness of B033... has run its course" and resolves, "That The Episcopal Church acknowledges with regret the further oppression visited on the lesbian and gay members of this church by Resolution B033 and its application; and apologizes for the potentially negative impact of said resolution on the ability to respond to the vocational call by the Holy Spirit to the episcopate of any members of this church."
There is more of the same from the dioceses of Camino Real, New Jersey and Los Angeles, to name several. New Jersey's C033 resolution has an interesting take on the subject, which is followed up by several other proposers, namely: B033 must go, not only because of its inherent injustice, but also because it is against the Canons (cf. Title III, Canon 11 and Title III, Canon 1, Section 2) of The Episcopal Church.
To explain, "The existing canons of The Episcopal Church are intended to be comprehensive and contain all processes and provisions that are to be used for the discernment of vocation for the episcopate. The canons have no restrictions on non-celibate gay and lesbian persons and specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation." So B033 has to go because it is illegal.
We should see some impassioned debate in both houses on this as General Convention considers the wisdom of openly defying the consensus view of the Communion. Getting rid of B033 isn't the only pansexual agenda item on the table.
A new, albeit related, issue has begun to rear its curious head. Transgenderism is beginning to work its way into the legislative process. What is this? Many assume that the "T' in LGBT is about sex change, or "gender reassignment" surgery, but it is not as simple as that. According to Wikipedia: "The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:
Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.
People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.
Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth.
A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as "other," "agender," "Genderqueer," or..."
Here's a representative text from C045, proposed by the diocese of Michigan that includes bisexuals:
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay persons are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's church; and be it further
Resolved, That this Church is committed to compliance with Canon III.I.2, which supports the full and equal participation of all persons regardless of sexual orientation in all aspects of the Church's ministries, lay and ordained; and be it further
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church direct the Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop a liturgical rite for blessing of same sex unions.
Now we know.
Regardless, there are currently five proposed resolutions dealing with this confusing issue. Two resolutions (C048 & D012) call on the church to support civil rights legislation.
Three more (C001, C061, C046) ask TEC to include "transgender identity" in its anti-discrimination training. It remains to be seen whether both houses of the Convention will adopt any, or part of these resolutions, but it is interesting to note their increase in number - from one in 2006 to this year's five.
Obviously transgenderism is on the rise and now finds a home in an umbrella organization called The Consultation, which includes Transepiscopal along with Integrity and the Episcopal Woman's Caucus.
Opinion is divided as to how the Convention will react to the above. Some believe that the House of Bishops, fresh(ish) from their collegiate Communion experience at Lambeth will work to keep TEC from adopting divisive legislation. Others feel that the LGBT agenda is so far advanced in Jefferts Schori's denomination that it can't be held back, at least in part, if not in whole.
And what about "Ubuntu", the governing principle behind GC09, what does it say? As with transgenderism itself, Ubuntu appears ambiguous. On the one hand, it supports the ancestral ties that hold TEC to its Anglican heritage, but on the other, it is all about communal co-inherence. Precedence would argue that, for TEC, "community" is primarily here, in the United States; an interesting debate is sure to follow.
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