Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry. I am writing to you now to recommend a path to use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers, and our continued witness to God’s inclusive love.
Clergy and lay leaders in the diocese have been working for the rights of LGBT people and for their full inclusion in our Church for more than forty years. Today, we continue to walk a journey that includes:
Bringing the witness of our LGBT sisters and brothers to this summer’s Lambeth Conference,
Combating a ballot initiative this November that will attempt to take away the rights recently recognized by the California Supreme Court,
Providing leadership at next summer's General Convention to bring our marriage practices and theology in line with our fundamental baptismal theology.
For far too long the onus has fallen on marginalized people to bear the burden of inequalities that exist within the Church, and the decision by our state’s Supreme Court has given us the opportunity to level the playing field.
To that end, the Diocese of California seeks to provide, by advocacy and example, a way forward for The Episcopal Church so that the marriage of same-sex couples will be a part of our official marriage rites, without distinction. Although The Episcopal Church does not have canonical rites for same-sex marriage, it is our goal that all couples be treated equally by the Church, as they are equally loved by God.
I therefore provide you with the following pastoral guidelines:
- I urge you to encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service and then being blessed in The Episcopal Church. I will publicly urge all couples to follow this pattern.
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