Same-Sex Church Blessings for California Episcopal Church.

Public recognition of permanent and committed same-sex relationships continues to increase in church circles, with or without legal recognition. The Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin in California is just the latest of many jurisdictions in several denominations, and many parts of the world, which has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions in church. Inevitably, some conservative sections of the Episcopal church will object – but others will follow. With the continuing removal of barriers to ordination for out and partnered lesbian and gay clergy, and the spread of legal recognition of civil unions in the US, and of gay marriage internationally, the pressure on all moderate to liberal denominations to provide for all their couples on a basis of equality, will surely grow.

RevKatherine Hancock Ragsdale and Canon Mally Lloyd were married in Boston cathedral, Jan 1st 2011.

US bishop ends ban on blessing of same-sex couples

A bishop in the US Episcopal church has authorised the use of blessings for same-sex couples, breaking a ban on one of the most divisive issues affecting the Anglican communion.

Chester Talton, from the diocese of San Joaquin, in California, has told clergy they may perform blessings of “same-gender civil marriages, domestic partnerships and relationships which are lifelong committed relationships characterised by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect [and] careful, honest communication”.

The US state recognises domestic partnerships between gay and heterosexual couples as long as one or both of the people involved is 62 or older. Same-sex marriages were also legal for a short while in the state.

A statement from the diocese said: “We must also recognise there are same-gender couples in relationships who have not entered in domestic partnerships, perceiving them to be inferior to marriage and who, for various reasons, did not or could not marry during the brief time when same gender marriages were legal.

“Couples in such relationships are part of the diocese of San Joaquin. They are in our congregations and in positions of leadership. They are our friends, neighbours and brothers and sisters in Christ. It is now time, to the extent permitted by California law and the canons of the Episcopal church, to extend to these couples the generous pastoral response necessary to meet their needs as members of this church.”

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