Sunday, October 23, 2005

Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut urges Bishop to allow priests to officiate at civil union ceremonies

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According to an article on News, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut are urging their Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, to allow their priests to officiate at civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples. Members of the diocese overwhelmingly passed the resolution to Bishop A. Smith at their annual diocese meeting. According to the article:
A law allowing same-sex civil unions in Connecticut took effect Oct. 1. But Smith reminded clergy in a recent memo that they are not authorized to officiate at blessings of same-sex unions. He said that won't change at least until the House of Bishops meets in 2006. The resolution, while not binding, gives the diocese, "a sense of this convention at this time," Smith said. There will be other occasions to discuss whether priests should preside over civil unions or not, he said. Gay issues have divided the U.S. Episcopal Church and are at the center of an ongoing dispute between Smith and six priests who had asked to be supervised by a different bishop. They disagree with Smith's support for the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the church's first openly gay bishop. Supporters of the resolution pitched it as a civil rights issue, saying just as it would be unthinkable to deny services to minorities, it is wrong to deny gay, lesbian and transgender people equality. There should be "full inclusion" of all people, said the Rev. James Cooke of Meriden, who serves as a chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital. "This is what puts us on the edge of progressive Christianity." Those opposing the resolution, urged the gathering not to confuse civil rights with sexual rights. "I would like to be able to preside over civil unions, but this issue should not destroy the unity of the church," said Rev. Mark Delcruze, an attendee from Ridgefield.