One more important step to full acceptance not only in law, but in the church. It may be only Eastern Massachusetts, and it may be only Episcopalians, but this will spread, just like civil marriage is already doing, right around the world.
From the Daily Comet:
Mass. Episcopal bishop OKs same-sex marriages
BOSTON – The Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts has given priests in his diocese permission to officiate at same-sex weddings.
Bishop M. Thomas Shaw III told The Boston Globe on Sunday that gay and lesbian couples deserve the “same sacrament of fidelity” as heterosexual couples.
Shaw has been a long-term supporter of gay marriage, but previously cited the Episcopal Church’s canons and prayer book in barring local priests from officiating at same-sex marriages, even after they became legal in Massachusetts in 2004.
Shaw said in a letter released to parishes on Sunday that priests can decline to officiate at same-sex weddings if they so choose. His decision only affects eastern Massachusetts.
The letter was welcomed by activists who had pressed for the diocese to do more than just bless same-sex couples.
Read more from Timothy Kincaid at at Box Turtle Bulletin:
This change in policy should cause anti-gays to worry. But not for any reason that they will admit.
Contrary to the political ads and fiery denunciations from pulpits, changes to civil marriage laws do not require churches to do anything. But they do provide the framework under which same-sex couples can live exemplary lives and show conscientious religious leaders that their objections are based not in principle but in presumption and false impression.
Civil marriage equality will in time lead many many churches to not only adapt to including same-sex marriages but to also hold up such commitments as the most appropriate venues for love and sexual expression for same-sex attracted persons. But this change will be voluntary, a change of heart based on decency, empathy, compassion, and their observation of married couples in their pews.
Anti-gays speak loudly of “religious freedom” and of the fear of coercive efforts to compel them to follow man-made laws rather than God’s laws. But I believe that a voluntary change of heart is something that anti-gays fear far more than any coercion from government.
Kincaid here is absolutely spot on. Th strenuous opposition to gay equality is not based on any sound reading of Scrupture or the teaching of the earliest church, but on a misguided church following popular prejudice. What these people fear most is to be shown up as being simply wrong, with no remaining excuse for their bigotry.