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Faith leaders applaud Episcopal Church's approval of rite to bless same-sex unions and the ordination of transgender people

Date: 
July 11, 2012

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WASHINGTON, July 11 — Members of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, applauded the Episcopal Church's approval of an official liturgy for blessing same-sex unions and a nondiscrimination policy that will allow transgender people to be ordained to the priesthood. The resolutions were passed by the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, the Episcopal legislative bodies, at the triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

Statement by the Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, Ph.D.,
Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry,
Pacific School of Religion Member,
National Religious Leadership Roundtable

"This week the Episcopal Church took two important steps toward making the good news of the Gospel a reality for all. By including gender identity and gender expression in its nondiscrimination canons, and by approving a rite of blessing for same-sex couples, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church officially acknowledged what has been the practice in many parts of the church for many years now: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people 'have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church.' Those words were adopted 36 years ago by the 1976 General Convention.

"As an Episcopal priest, I celebrate the history of Gospel welcome that has brought us to this moment and I am proud of my church for its clear witness to that welcome in the wider world. Many Episcopalians have known for some time the blessing that same-sex couples offer to the mission and ministry of the church. The General Convention has now provided a liturgical rite to make that blessing visible and tangible in our congregations.

"This is an important moment, not only for LGBT Episcopalians but for all those who are eager to put the good news of the Gospel into practice, both in our churches and in broader movements for social justice. As God said to Abraham so long ago, 'I will bless you... and make you a blessing' (Genesis 12:2). Thanks to the faithful and prayerful work of many, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has now acknowledged more fully the blessing of LGBT people in our midst."

Statement by the Rev. Susan Russell, All Saints Church, Pasadena, Calif. Member, National Religious Leadership Roundtable

"The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies has concurred with the overwhelming majority of their bishops in voting by a wide margin to authorize liturgies for the blessing of same-sex relationships. Those who spoke in opposition to the resolution accurately noted that the historic vote was a landmark decision as the Episcopal Church continues to 'evolve' on full equality for its LGBT members.

"I look forward to the next three years of experiencing these rites of blessing in our congregations and engaging in the study of the history and theology of marriage the convention also called us to undertake. I look forward to the Episcopal Church continuing to evolve on the issue of marriage equality. And — having taken the historic steps we took yesterday over the fence between fear and possibility — I look forward to joining our UCC brothers and sisters in being a headlight and not a taillight on full marriage equality."

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The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of leaders from pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith, spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from the ground up. The Task Force is the country's premier social justice organization fighting to improve the lives of LGBT people and working to create positive, lasting change and opportunity for all. The Task Force is a 501(c)(3) corporation incorporated in Washington, D.C. Contributions to the Task Force are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. © 2012, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1325 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C., 20005. Phone 202.393.2241. TTY 202.393.2284. theTaskForce@theTaskForce.org.