This entry was originally posted July 18, 2009 as part of the website “Slouching Towards Anaheim.”
“You want an amendment against same sex marriage? Anyone who’s ever been married knows it’s always the same sex!”
“Man of the Year”
It was the last day, and every smile, word, and gesture said just that. We knew we were near the end. Most of the day was spent cleaning up unfinished business and concurring with things that had been passed in the House of Bishops (remember that all legislation must pass both houses in order to be fully adopted and acted on). However there were a few exciting moments.
I’m happy to report that C023: Same-Sex Unions: Defense of Marriage Statuses was referred by the HoB to a standing committee, a motion that was then overwhelmingly accepted in the HoD. I support the spirit of the resolution, and I’m happy that it may find new life with better language next time. Considering that there were two motions to reconsider in the HoD prior to finding out it coming back to us, I’d say I wasn’t the only one who was struggling with the severity of the language.
There was some upset over a change to the Feast Days which I still don’t totally understand. From what I can tell, people were angry that the words “blessed virgin” did not appear in the main body of the liturgical text, even though they appeared in the title and in other parts of the resolution. I thought I was following the argument when suddenly it became another conservatives vs. liberals mess. I’m not sure where it came from, and I’m still not sure what happened. In the end, we passed it without the proposed changes to add “blessed virgin” back in, and a deputy from Albany took off her sandals, loudly clapped the dust off of them, and walked off the convention floor. Even I didn’t get it at first, and I had to have Stephen explain it to me. It’s good sitting next to a priest. Matthew 10: 13-14:
However, the real belle of the ball today was the blessing of same-sex unions. Or rather, the plan to look up stuff about them for now but not do them for real and maybe make up temporary stuff if in we want in certain places. Technically, no, we did not officially approve of gay marriage today. The resolution is pretty watered down, and that is very intentional and a very good idea. It’s an olive branch both to the Anglican Communion and to the conservatives still in our own church. It says, “Look, we have to at least look into this. But don’t worry, even if we keep going it won’t be official for years. Either we’ll change our minds or you will, but there’s still time.”
One might think that this would upset the gays and lesbians in the church who have been working so hard for this cause, but I doubt it will. The resolution allows for “generous pastoral response” in states where gay marriage is already legal, providing that the clergy wants to perform the ceremony (as always, the Episcopal Church has no intention of forcing any clergy to preside over any marriage they do not personally support). So, if you are a gay Episcopalian couple living in a state that allows for you to be married you’re all set. The marriage rites may still be a little experimental, but they are valid. If your state doesn’t allow same-sex marriage yet, you can either wait (as many have chosen to do), or you can seek out any number of Episcopal clergy who would be willing to do it without the state and under the radar (as has been going on for some time as a sort of liturgical “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.)
The fact is that between D025 and this new pursuit of same-sex marriage rites, the Episcopal Church has made a pretty strong stand, even if it is with purposely ambiguous language. Some will think it is a stand against Anglicans and conservatives, but most deputies and bishops will tell you that these resolutions merely say out loud that which has been going on for some time.
Some people seem to mistakenly believe that our relationship with the Anglican Communion is that of a parent and a child. I don’t think this is true, I think it is supposed to be one of brothers and sisters. But were one to take the parent-child analogy, then I believe that this General Convention was our own coming out to our Anglican parents. This was us saying, “We’re not going to pretend anymore. We’re not going to stay quiet anymore. We love you, but you have to know that this is who we are.” Some parents take this kind of news better than others. We’ll see what the Anglicans do.
Though General Convention 2009 may be over, I am not finished. I will continue updating this blog for at least another week or two, posting pictures and videos and writing about some of the stories and issues that I didn’t have time to get to in the last two weeks. Today you’ll notice some new pictures up, with more to follow. After that I think I’ll keep updating sporadically for as long as UW keeps hosting the site for free. A deputy stays a deputy until their diocese holds another election, so I keep this position until November 2010, when I plan to run again.
Wish me luck!