This is not a thread for arguing for or against same-sex marriage. I’m just interested in what is happening at various denominations regarding same-sex marriage.
I know there was just an announcement in the United Methodists, for example, that they were going to be reviewing a resolution in support of same sex marriage, but I don’t know how things work in that church, so I don’t get whether this is a big or a small deal.
Anyone a part of a church or familiar with the inner workings of a church is welcome to chime in, including just to give opinions about where their church may be heading.
Again, if you just want to talk about SSM as the best thing ever or the worst thing imaginable, this isn’t the right thread! And if you just want to bash any or all religion, it’s also not the right thread.
Episcopal Church. You might recall hearing something about us in the news.
Without going into the turbulent history of the last 20 (especially 10) years: we have many openly gay and lesbian priests (partnered and single) and a handful of gay or lesbian bishops (partnered or single).
TEC has not yet approved official liturgy for same-sex marriage, but in 2012 the General Convention gave approval for Bishops to permit and/or perform SSMs in their dioceses in states where it is legal to do so. Some bishops also perform or allow blessing ceremonies in states where SSMs are not legal.
The church also allows bishops to forbid such ceremonies. So you have a sort of patchwork. In my diocese (Tennessee) SSMs are not performed per the bishop, although a “pastoral response” to gay couples is encouraged. We have several gay couples in my congregation.
Our next General Convention is in 2015 (I was just elected as a deputy this past weekend) and the odds are probably in favor of official SSM rites being approved for those diocese who wish to use them. I strongly doubt bishops will be required to allow them, however, so their use will still vary from diocese to diocese.
Well, there was more or less an exodus - since 2006 about a half-dozen entire dioceses split from the church* and membership is way down across the board. A lot of the loss in membership is probably conservative members who left quietly; some folks were probably driven away by all the acrimony and fighting; and there are probably some who left for places that are more unequivocally supportive of gay rights. On top of the fact that participation in organized religion of any kind is on the decline.
*The dioceses claim to have left as a whole. The church’s position is that the bishop and clergy and laity may have left, but the diocese itself still exists and all its assets still belong to TEC. That has resulted in a number of lawsuits, which TEC pretty universally has won.
ETA: So to answer your question - the last couple of conventions I have been to (national and local) have been much more amicable than they were 10 years ago. Not so much because everyone agrees now, but because those who have stayed have agreed to disagree and live together while those who were unable to tolerate the difference of opinion left the church, for the most part.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), there was a famous and widely publicized decision in 2009 which essentially allows individual pastors to make a decision about whether to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. However, it seems to be an unwritten rule that anyone who wishes to advance in the church must say yes to same-sex marriage. Marching in gay pride parades and flying the rainbow flag outside the church will also serve to advance one’s career. Those pastors who don’t do these things will likely be sent to the small, rural parish circuit.
I’m an atheist, but the father of a very good friend of mine is a Methodist reverend in the UK. Several years ago he decided he would no longer perform wedding ceremonies until he could perform them equally. He is retired now, but will soon perform wedding ceremonies when requested! Huzzah!
I’ll just add to this that the phrase is actually “generous pastoral response,” and what that means depends entirely on who’s interpreting it. (One of the most frustrating things to me, as an Episcopalian, is the church’s tendency to never say anything clearly if it can be said obscurely.)
In the diocese of New York, for instance, the (now former) bishop started a bit of a shitstorm when he ruled that “generous pastoral response” meant that clergy in his diocese could bless civil marriages for same-sex couples but could not actually marry them (this after the state passed marriage equality). I should add that this was unexpected, as he had been a strong advocate for marriage equality. (At the same time, he ruled that priests who were in same-sex LTRs had one year to get married, which of course they could not do in the church, at least not in that diocese.)
It was a completely bizarre ruling, especially since the bishops of most of the other dioceses in the state interpreted it to mean “Yes, if a priest would like to marry a same-sex couple in his or her church, go for it.”
(And then there was the diocese of Albany, which interpreted “generous pastoral response” to mean “okay, we won’t burn gays at the stake.” But they’re noted for conservatism.)
At any rate, that diocese-of-NY bishop changed the policy shortly before retiring. The new bishop is quite happy to allow his priests to marry anyone who can legally marry in the state.
My church just had its priest move on to greener pastures; he is gay, not partnered. The congregation includes quite a few gay and lesbian couples, married and un-.
Well, we finally can get married by the minister in my congregation. She refused to perform marriages until she could marry same sex couples - and since this is Minnesota - we’ve been celebrating weddings ever since - straight and gay (there was sort of a backlog of straight people). Unitarian Universalist.
The UUA has been at the forefront of the religious movement to recognize gay marriage.
Unitarian-Universalist, and my church has supported gay marriage since 1973. It’s one of the reasons I joined.
Currently, there’s a movement among UU ministers not to perform any marriage as civil authorities until gay marriage is legal (not sure if it’s state by state or the whole country), but they will perform a religious ceremony after you get hitched at the courthouse.
It’s permitted within the United Church of Canada (so are gay clergy). Pretty sure an individual congregation can still opt out of doing SSM if they want, but the number of Affirming congregations is continuing to increase.
I’m in the Episcopal Church, so what Skammer says applies to me too. I do think it’s worth pointing out that while the leadership of our church is generally fairly pro-SSM, there are plenty of members who are more conservative, and what we are moving towards seems to be an ‘agree to amicably disagree’ equlibrium.