Presiding Bishop on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

Posted Jun 26, 2013

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following on today’s United States Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8.

The Episcopal Church is presently engaged in a period of study and dialogue about the nature of Christian marriage.  This work is moving forward, with faithful people of many different perspectives seeking together to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit.  However, our Church has taken the position that neither federal nor state governments should create constitutional prohibitions that deny full civil rights and protections to gay and lesbian persons, including those available to different-sex couples through the civic institution of marriage.

Accordingly, I welcome today’s decision of the United States Supreme Court that strikes down the 17-year-old law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex civil marriages granted by the states.  The unmistakable movement toward civil marriage equality in the states over the past decade reflects the will of the people in those states to grant equal rights and dignity under the law to all married couples and families, and today’s decision will appropriately allow those families to be recognized under federal law as well.  At the same time, the Court’s withholding of judgment on the ultimate constitutional question of whether a state may ban same-sex marriage reflects the fact that this conversation will continue to evolve in coming years.  I trust that Episcopalians will contribute actively and faithfully to this conversation, particularly as our nation begins to discern the many practical implications of today’s decisions for areas of our shared life, ranging from immigration law to family rights.

I am deeply aware that faithful Americans find themselves on all sides of these issues, including those who have not yet clearly discerned an effective or appropriate response.  It is possible to disagree AND work together for the good of the larger community.  That is the bedrock of our democratic political system.  It is also the foundation of life in the Body of Christ.  Together we can help to build up the whole community, particularly if we have the courage to listen deeply to those who hold a different view.  The Episcopal Church has an ancient tradition of attempting to hold divergent views together for the sake of deeper truth.  All are beloved of God, and the flourishing of each is what we believe God intended from the beginning of creation.  May we help to build a beloved community in which each and every person is treated with dignity, knowing that each and every one reflects the image of God.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (19)

  1. Charles W. Daily says:

    I fully support DOMA and believe that one man and one woman only are eligible for marriage. I say this in a Christian, faith based, and ethical conviction that all else is not of God.

    1. Jim Stejskal says:

      PLease then, give up all federal and state benefits accorded to married heterosexual couples, as the state should not support a religious institution.

  2. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

    If the Church has two Sacraments,Baptism and Holy Communion then we can create an ordinance an marry two men or two women or for that matter any combination of the above we want but do not call it a sacrament.

  3. John D. Andrews says:

    For me it is simple. My religious beliefs have nothing to do with what is legal or illegal. We have a Constitution that contains the concept of separation of church and state. The state should not dictate religious beliefs, nor should the church dictate our public laws. We were founded as a secular nation in order to avoid the troubles of theocracy, and secularism in the public sphere has worked well.

    1. Genest Harding says:

      AMEN well said. Absolutely the way I feel. We are allowing too many religious based laws to take over this country, which is the very reason our forfathers fled to this country in the first place. In my opinion that is why the Islomic faiths are having so many issues due to warring atittudes about the social issues. It is a dangerous slope to go down. Religion and state are seperate and need to reamain so now and forever.

  4. David Yarbrough says:

    Mr. Andrews, this Constitution forbids Congress from establishing a state religion. It was never intended to remove Christian ethics and morality from government.

    Unfortunately, Biblical ethics and morality are rapidly disappearing from government, secular society, and mainline churches, with TEC leading the charge.

  5. The Rev. Andrew Green says:

    I rejoice in today’s decisions by the Supreme Court and I believe them to be steps toward full equality and consistent with the practice of my Christian Faith. Our Presiding Bishop is an articulate leader and her words underscore a specific message: As people of faith, we are called to work together to proclaim God’s Reign of justice and peace. I have seen people in several dioceses come together about this mission, while still holding different positions on controversial issues.

  6. Jonathan Trapp says:

    I’m incredibly proud and humbled by TEC’s progressive record on gay marriage, and of course delighted with today’s rulings. Glory to God!

    1. Jeanne A. Shepherd says:


  7. David McCain says:

    Sadly, David Yarborough does not know the difference between religion and denomination. Were the U.S. Government to base its civil code on Christian or Biblical standards it then would be establishing a Judeo-Christian state religion. Religion-based standards are best practiced in the lives of those who subscribe to the tenants of a particular faith or ethical system. Forced conformity to a narrow religious standard is, frankly, un-American. And that’s as it should be. When we who call ourselves Christians cannot agree on the proper nature or form of communion; when the validity of holy orders is argued amongst Christian bodies, and the sight of a female at the altar is enough for some to grab their 1928 prayer books and 1940 hymnals and run for the hills; when the validity of certain baptismal practices is contested, and the conflicting or complimentary roles that works and grace are disputed; we as Christians are not in a favorable position to be expecting the U.S. Government to pattern its legal code after our inconsistent, often conflicting standards.

    1. Bruce Bogin says:

      Very well said. The last thing our country needs is a theocracy like Iran and Saudi Arabia. All over the Middle East Islamists and Salafists are trying to force their governments into following their version of the Koran. Why do groups of people calling themselves Christians seek to emulate this practice in the US?

  8. Pamela Deeds says:

    In my humble opinion, left or right sided “comments” are not what our church or world needs right now. We have continued that heated course of dialogue for years, in both the political and religious venues, with no success in achieving peaceful discourse or understanding. Instead we continue to insist on labeling, judging, and attempting to penalize anyone with different views. Seeking to understand, not label or judge, is my understanding of Christ’s teachings. I agree with our Bishop, “listen deeply ” then “converse” (a multi-sided event) so that we can strive to love as Christ loved.

  9. Robert Mace says:

    I concur with, and applaud, our Presiding Bishop’s statement, and am in full accord with Rev. Andrew Green’s commentary. We may all have divergent opinions and perspectives with respect to all manner of things, yet we are all beloved children of God, created in God’s image, equal in God’s eyes. To the extent to which we are not equal under the law, I think that only serves to widen the chasm between our secular, civil culture and the Kingdom of God. God is pleased, I think, when we agree or even agree to disagree, as long as the dignity and value of each of us as human beings created equally in God’s eyes are respected and honored. God bless all. God bless America. God bless our beloved Episcopal Church.

  10. Richard Lindberg says:

    The Presiding Bishop does not speak for me in her support of the Court’s decision. Constitutionally, the decision makes sense. Biblically, it does not. Homosexual relationships are not considered righteous in the sight of God, but only exist as part of God’s judgment on the human race for turning away from Him (Rom. 1:18-32, a portion not included in the Daily Office readings for obvious reasons). Homosexual marriage is not marriage because it does not reveal the truth of the relationship between Christ and his church. Her statement shows how much the Episcopal Church has become adulterous in its relationship to God. The Episcopal Church is acting much like Israel before its exile to Babylon. Our bishops are not faithful to their ordination vows. They are leading the people of God astray. As much as I love the liturgy of the Prayer Book, it may be time for me to reconsider my affiliation with the Church when we have such apostate leaders.

    1. Vince Black says:

      Amen on that one.

      One of the most beautiful – compelling aspects of the Bible is the reading of how God’s word, His Prophecy, always comes to pass. I believe we are witnessing the great falling away. God said it would happen, and it is.

      And the Episcopal Church, whom I have been a member of for many years, has apparently decided to be a part of that. I’ve wondered for some time now if the Episcopal Church could be part of the apostate church spoken of in Revelation. With this statement by the Presiding Bishop, it now appears more likely that it is. I for one can no longer be a part of that. If the Episcopal Church prefers to ignore God, He will turn “them over to their reprobate mind”. Good bye.

      As far as those who talk about judging, we are not. Tolerating behavior and embracing / sanctioning it are two entirely different things. The ones who will be judged and not tolerated are those on the side of truth, who hear His voice.

      No surprise. God said his Church would be presecuted.

  11. Richard Bidwell says:

    Romans 14
    “Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another….Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification.”

    Words read this morning at Mass.

  12. Linda J Nichols says:

    Mr. Lindberg’s statement about the relationship between Christ and his church made me think — the church is generally thought of as a female entity, but it contains males. Indeed, males have dominated for centuries. In my mind, this somehow seems to constitute a sort of homosexual relationship. Maybe that is what Christ wants. My thoughts are muddled on this as I’ve just begun to think of it. Feel free to shoot holes in my theory. I believe this is a part of the discernment process, at least for me. Others?

  13. Steven Lee says:

    I agree with Bishop Shori 100 percent! By the same token, I think
    that marriage, in general, is overrated in our world today! Time was,
    you had to be married to look good, and too many people married
    for the wrong reasons. While I am not opposed to marriages of either
    homo or hetero nature, for me, marriage is NOT, and THAT shouldn’t be
    a problem to those who ARE married or who think everyone SHOULD be!

  14. Pastor Richard Smith says:

    The DOMA laws were enacted on a bipartisan effort because of the realization that marriage as traditionally defined by the church was under attack. We have seen what the effects of feminism and socialism have had on the family unit in Europe and conservative evangelicals will never support gay marriage in the house of God. We will not be coerced or compelled in any way to alter God’s ordained “Holy Matrimony”. This is not a civil issue this is a issue that at it’s core seeks to destroy the churches that have not joined in the unholy alliance with the beast (one world government). Revelation speaks of the whore of Babylon that rides the beast. Be sure we will not be moved form our convictions come fines, imprisonment or even war. We know that the government is corrupt but now we see the Episcopal church that has dirtied it’s robe to lie with the beast – shame on you! We don’t need the approval of man or a government that has aligned itself against God. We seek only to please our Savior.

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