Episcopalian Church votes to approve religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples

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SALT LAKE CITY -- After decades of debate, the Episcopalian Church voted to allow same-sex couples to marry through religious ceremony at Episcopalian churches. The decision was made during the church's General Convention held in downtown Salt Lake City.

"You could hear the exhale in the room," said Rev. Nina Pooley of Maine.

Tuesday, the church's House of Bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change. Wednesday, the vote was similar in the House of Deputies, solidifying the move.

"I think we finally got our courage together and voted our convictions, and I'm very happy," church member Jim Steadman said.

The changes represent a long sought after compromise between those for and against same-sex marriage ceremonies within the Episcopalian Church.

Under it, all gender-specific wording will be removed from church laws. For example, "husband and wife" will now be changed to "couple."

However, clergy members can choose not to officiate a marriage. The rules give them the ability to decline to participate, which means some couples may have to find another diocese to wed.

In Utah's Episcopalian diocese, the views seem to align with the majority. Bishop Scott Hayashi voted in favor the change and has been an advocate of same-sex marriage rights.

"I'm really proud of what we did," said Rev. Stan Baker of Vermont.

Baker has been battling for the rights of same-sex couples in the courts since the '90s. Openly gay, he acknowledges the need to balance everyone's rights within the church, which is why it felt necessary to him to allow some clergy members the opportunity to not partake in the ceremonies.

However, moving forward, he's hopeful this decision will become the new norm for everyone.

"I think we'll find, given a year or two, that this will probably not be the big issue we talk about," Baker said.

The changes take effect in November 2015.

16 comments

  • joe schmoe

    all churches will have “divine inspiration” to change and accept.. and if they don’t.. say good by to tax exempt status…

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Sorry Mr. Schmoe but churches aren’t political entities. They aren’t forced to either accept deviant behavior or loss their tax exempt status. Nice try but no cigar little fella.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Isn’t it time for Joe Schmoe to make an honest man out of his boy friend and marry his blushing groom? Do the right thing Mr. Schmoe and take your husband’s last name just like in normal marriages. :)

    • Sara

      What is wrong with you? How can such things come out of your heart and mind? You are a sick individual in need of help and I hope you get it. How horrible to go through life with your attitude and outlook.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        When normal people marry SARA the bride takes her husband’s last name. When Mr. Schmoe marries his husband wouldn’t he want to do the same thing?

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Is this some reference to Sodom and Gomorrah ERIK? The Lord informed Abraham that “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous …”

        Give it a rest ERIK.

  • Bobby's mom

    Bobby!….Your grounded! Put down your pet rock and go to your room!! I apologize for bobby so behavior.. He has issues.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      You’re not anybody’s mother honey. You’re confused about the role Mother Nature intended for you.

      • CC

        Too bad it’s not your mama. You might have learned a thing or two. Alas,the world will have to live with your mother’s failings.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Actually a majority of Americans agree with me Ben. Now isn’t it time you took your fiancé down the aisle of the Episcopalian Church and made him your husband?

      • ANOTHERBOB

        CC – I rather suspect that your mother explained the birds and bees to you. Sadly there is a reason for the suicide rate among those who are confused about the subject.

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