Northern California bishop responds to Supreme Court rulings

Posted Jun 27, 2013

[Episcopal Diocese of Northern California press release] When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acts in response to the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision today, same-gender marriages will once again be legally possible in California. Our state would then resume its position with a growing number of states that extend the right of marriage to all their citizens. As you know, I have been openly in favor of the restoration of such rights, which I take to be a matter of basic civil rights. I am, therefore, among those who rejoice at this decision, as I know many of you do. I am also mindful that others among us may feel differently about this issue, particularly when it comes to the matter of marriage equality in the Church. May God help us to hold each other in that respect and love to which we are committed in the promises of Holy Baptism.

I am personally in favor of full marriage equality in the Church as well, and continue to hope for it. However, I understand and appreciate that there is a lot of work to do before the day when our General Convention amends its canons and liturgies to make same-gender marriage possible in our Church. In the meantime, same-gender couples in this diocese who are prepared to be married in the eyes of the state, and who intend to make a life-long and faithful covenant with God, may have their civil marriages blessed in the Church. As always, the decision to become pastorally involved is up to each individual clergy person. Those clergy who choose to officiate for such a service will be acting as agents of the state for purposes of the marriage, and as clergy of the Church for the blessing. Approved rites, appropriately adapted (not including liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer), have been authorized. Full details on policies and procedures will be published in the next few weeks. These will be similar to the current materials available on the Episcopal Diocese of Maine’s website.

Again, I ask that we continue to hold each other in baptismal regard as we move into this new era in our life together. May God bless and guide you, as you consider your own response to this change. And may this Diocese be empowered by the Holy Spirit to embrace God’s gift of unity, to focus on its mission and to keep moving forward, in the Name of Christ.