|The Episcopal Church meets in General Convention.|
The Episcopal House of Bishops voted to affirm rites for same-sex blessings July 9, 2012, at the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis, IN.
Resolution A049 was passed overwhelmingly by the Episcopal House of Bishops in a vote of 111-41, with three abstentions. It now goes to the House of Deputies for ratification.
The affirmation comes a week after the Episcopal Church in General Convention voted to approve the ordination of transgendered people.
The House of Bishops authorized "provisional" rites after the Standing Committee on Liturgy replaced the phrase "authorize for trial use" from the original resolution with the sentence to “authorize for provisional use I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing for study and use in congregations and dioceses of The Episcopal Church.”
"We act in humility," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said to the House of Bishops after the roll-call vote.
Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia proposed an amendment clarifying that the rites are only to be used for same-sex couples and not opposite-sex couples. On a voice vote, the House of Bishops adopted his amendment.
During debate, bishops rose in support or opposition to the resolution, including Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, saying that it would likely be viewed and used as a marriage rite. “I do not want to lose the symbolism of the of the holy marriage feast of Christ and his bride,” he said in opposition to the resolution.
But Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, expressed support for the resolution. He drew a parallel with A049 and the decision fifty years ago to allow divorced people to remarry in the Episcopal Church, saying that the theological arguments to affirm gay blessings are as strong as allowing divorce and remarriage.
“They are the same,” Bishop Sauls said.
Bishop Marianne Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington stated on the floor of the House of Bishops that she supported the resolution and rites for same-sex blessings. Gay and lesbian people “only want the church to honor their relationships,” she said.
The resolution is expected to be ratified by the House of Deputies this week.
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