Washington National Cathedral to Celebrate Same-Sex Weddings
By David W. Virtue
January 8, 2013
The Washington National Cathedral, the nation's iconic center for funerals and presidential gatherings, will now allow same-sex weddings to be celebrated in the cathedral.
Dean Gary Hall said the cathedral has a long history of advancing equality for people of all faiths and perspectives. "The Cathedral is called to serve as a gathering place for the nation in times of significance, but it is also rooted in its role as the most visible faith community within the Episcopal Church."
The Episcopal Church has, for more than 30 years, raged backwards and forwards over the issue of pansexuality. Last summer at its General Convention, it approved rites for same sex blessings.
In a news release, Hall said it is now only fitting that the National Cathedral follow suit. "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."
Hall said his decision was consistent with the canons of the Episcopal Church. "The Cathedral will begin celebrating same-sex marriage ceremonies using a rite adapted from an existing blessing ceremony approved in August 2012 by the Church at its General Convention. That approval allowed for the bishops who oversee each diocese within the Church to decide whether or not to allow the rite's use or to allow celebration of same-sex marriage."
Celebrating same-sex weddings is important beyond the Episcopal Church, Hall said. Church debate is largely settled on the matter, allowing for local decisions, he added. The move is also a chance to influence the nation, Hall told the Associated Press.
In light of the legality of civil marriage for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia and Maryland, Washington Bishop Mariann Budde announced last month that the diocese would allow this expansion of the sacrament, which she said led to her decision for the Cathedral's adaptation of the same-sex rite.
Budde said she was inspired by the witness she had seen of gay and lesbian communities where she has served for over 35 years of ordained ministry. "I am pleased that this step follows the results made clear in this past November's election, when three states voted to allow same-sex marriage.
"Matters of human sexual identity and questions about the Church's role in blessing lifelong, committed relationships between its members are serious issues around which feelings run high and people of good will can often disagree. It is my hope and prayer that, if all of us open ourselves to the fullness and diversity of our nation's many voices, we will learn to walk together in a new way as we listen for God's call to us to be faithful to each other and to God."
Same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. Legislators in Illinois and Rhode Island are set to take up bills to possibly join them. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear cases on gay marriage in March.
The first same-sex wedding performed last month at West Point's Cadet Chapel drew some protests from conservatives. The National Cathedral is even more visible.
In a move that will surely raise eyebrows among conservative Episcopalians, All Saints Chapel at Sewanee, the University of the South, a five-story Gothic church at the center of the college campus, will formally allow the blessing of same-sex couples, embracing the decision of General Convention last summer which approved controversial Rites for homosexuals and lesbians.
The controversy has placed Sewanee in a tricky position, said John McCardell Jr., Sewanee's vice chancellor and president. "An absolute yes or an absolute no was just not possible," McCardell noted. The college feared its chapel could become a sort of Las Vegas for blessings of gay unions -- an end-run for couples whose bishops won't permit the rite in their own diocese.
The compromise: Gay and lesbian couples who meet the other eligibility requirements for a Sewanee wedding will be able to have their union blessed in the college chapel, as long as their bishops are supportive.
McCardell described the decision, reached by the college chaplain, dean of the School of Theology, and the two bishops on the Board of Regents, which oversees university governance, as "the only sensible thing."
In 2003, The Russian Orthodox Church destroyed a chapel after local churchmen declared it defiled because it hosted a "marriage" ceremony for two men. The Rev. Vladimir Enert was defrocked for conducting the service for Denis Gogolyev and Mikhail Morozev at the Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 280 miles east of Moscow, the London Telegraph reported. A spokesman for the Orthodox Church indicated the chapel had to be demolished because it was desecrated.
However, independent reports show gay marriages are fragile at best. The vast majority of homosexuals, (even those who see themselves as "loving"), are NOT interested in marriage. Those few who ARE interested in committed relationships have the opportunity to engage in such relationships. This kind of commitment does not necessitate marriage. Furthermore there is no biblical support for such "marriages." Any sexual act outside of marriage between a man and a woman is biblically proscribed and will ultimately bring the judgment of God. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have roundly rejected such marital options.
The deeper truth is homosexual activists aren't concerned with rights; they are concerned with complete societal endorsement of their behavior. Homosexuals want the society to stop telling them that what they are doing is "wrong" so they can feel better about what they are doing.
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