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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 06
Episcopal bishop supports marriage equality
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Episcopal bishop supports marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In sharp contrast to the state's Roman Catholic bishops - who issued a pastoral letter opposing marriage equality legislation - Seattle's Episcopal Bishop Gregory H. Rickel says he supports the measure.

In a letter released February 1, Rickel described the marriage bill as 'a conservative proposal.'

'I am for it,' he wrote, 'and I hope we will finally make way for this to happen, not only in our society, but also in our church.'

Rickel said in his letter that the Episcopal Church will consider an endorsement of same-sex marriage at its summer General Convention.

'It seems to me we have held our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters in a catch-22,' Rickel writes.

'We say they cannot live up to our values because they cannot be married, or even blessed in their union. While many of them have begged for this, it is still not possible.

'What they ask of us, the church and the government, is to put boundaries around their relationship, to hold them in the same regard and with the same respect, which would also mean that we expect the same from them. They are not asking for special treatment. They are asking for equal treatment.'

The Episcopal Church in the United States, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has wrestled with inclusion of LGBT clergy and members over many years, gradually accepting Gay and Lesbian clergy and agreeing to provide church blessings for same-sex couples.

The church's evolving position has generated serious opposition, however, particularly following the 2003 election of Gene Robinson, who is openly Gay, as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.

Several parishes have since withdrawn from the Episcopal Church, and the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and San Joaquin have proclaimed themselves Anglicans and severed ties with the parent church.

A few parishes, and one prominent Episcopal bishop, have joined the Catholic Church.

Episcopalians make up less than 1% of Washington residents. In contrast, Roman Catholics make up almost 12%, and Mormons another 3%. Some 31.45% of the state's residents identify with some religious denomination.

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., Mariann Edgar Budde, has also endorsed marriage equality legislation in Maryland.

'The scriptural argument against same-sex marriage is based on seven references in the Old and New Testaments that condemn homosexual activity,' she wrote.

'Each one of those passages, however, condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.'

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