Photo via WikiCommons/Gary Bridgman for St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
On July 1, just days after the Supreme Court established marriage equality across the nation, the Episcopal Church in the United States voted overwhelmingly to embrace same-sex marriage. After first being approved by the House of Bishops Tuesday night by a majority of 129-26, the measure was brought to a full vote at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. By 173-27, the body approved changing the wording of the ceremony from "husband and wife" to "couple." A gender netural service was also adopted by a vote of 184-23. The new measures will go into effect on November 29, the first Sunday of Advent, opening up marriage to all of the church's nearly 2 million congregants.
The United States wing of the Anglican Church as been progressing on LGBT rights for years. In 2003, it elected the openly gay Gene Robinson to the bishopric of New Hampshire. In response to this week's vote, Robinson said:
"What we're seeing I think in the Episcopal Church, and last week with the Supreme Court decision, is an entire culture evolving into understanding that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people contribute just as much as anyone else to this society and deserve all the same rights."
The move brings the Episcopal Church into alignment with two other major Protestant sects in the United States: the United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America allowing congregations to decide for themselves.
Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, who heads the worldwide congregation of 80 million Anglicans/Episcopalians, expressed his concerns over the adoption of same-sex marriage. Under the new policy, however, the clergy are allowed to decline to perform any wedding service.
(H/T Associated Press)